Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Architecture for Everyone

There are so many young people with the dream of building exciting buildings.  Whether it is a tent made out of blankets, a building created with toilet paper rolls, Legos and building blocks taken to towering heights, or some other magnificent structure, there are myriad reasons to encourage such activities whenever possible. 

I was inspired to think about this and post this today when I found this interesting lists of 15 Adorable Children's Books Featuring Architecture..  It is a great list, but I can't resist adding just a few more books that I like.

Everyday Structures from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman is an alphabet of interesting ways of looking at structures, constructions, shapes, and styles.  I am not always thrilled with the questions that the author chooses to ask, but they are good jumping off points for discussions between you and your child or the reader can skip through them to find ones that are interesting.  This book could be enjoyed by Kindergarten and first graders with some parental help and by those up about grade five as a starting point for learning more about structures.

As suggested in the on-line list above, the books of David Macaulay are amazing insider views of great constructions from Castles and Pyramids to Cathedrals and Mosques.  He has a newer series for younger readers, but the beloved ones are what will capture middle grade students to adults with their detail and wealth of information.  If you find his book called Built to Last, you will get Castle, Cathedral, and Mosque all in one volume.

If you want an exciting story of the brave folks who actual build the skyscrapers, offer your middle grade to middle school aspiring architect Skywalkers:  Mohawk Ironworkers Build the City by David Weitzman  looks at the long connection between the Mohawk people and construction by first looking at the construction of the longhouses that were built in what is now upstate New York perhaps as long as 4,000 years ago.  Most of the book, however, concerns how the Mohawk people have been involved with so much modern construction, risking their lives as they create the iron structures that take skyscrapers reaching for the clouds.

Picture-book-reading builders will enjoy Monkey with a Toolbelt by Chris Monroe as they marvel at the real and pun-created tools in his belt and the creative ways he puts them to use to help friends and escape danger.  This is an imagination sparking joy for kindergarten and up.

For space age style creations, spark imagination with Marveltown by Bruce McCall.  Marveltown is a city created by inventors and filled with things like a Skyway held up by invisible ion rays and opportunities to go rocket-jumping by moonlight or fishing from a mile-high tower.  No wonder all the kids who live there are inspired to make their own inventions like a rocket chair, a machine to eat homework,  or a rug especially created to trip school bullies.  When things go very wrong in this placid town, it is the inventions of the kids that help to save the day.  This picture book will appeal to kindergarten and up.

Henry Builds a Cabin  by D. B. Johnson goes back in time with a story inspired by the life and writings of Henry David Thoreau.  The Henry in the book is a bear who is shown designing his house and then building it from chopping and shaping the logs to notching beams and fitting them into place.  His neighbors think the house is too small, but Henry knows where he wants his priorities and for him the great outdoors serve as most of his rooms so his house doesn't need to be very big.  This picture book will appeal to grades two and up as well as to anyone who as an interest in Thoreau.

Don't stop here.  Check out craft books which will inspire creations.  Cookbooks, too, are often about building edible creations that are more than a couple of layers with icing. (The Secret Life of Food by Clare Crespo is one cookbook that comes quickly to mind in this category.)   In fact, true inspiration can be found almost anywhere.  Read a little then gather supplies and start building.  Have fun.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Just Duckie!

If you travel down the nearest major street to my home, you will pass houses with a man-made small lake (pond) behind them.  In front of one of the houses on the other side of the street is a sign that says "Duck Crossing".  That sign was the inspiration for the stories and activities  shared in kindergarten and first grade this week.  (I am happy to report that every time ducks are crossing to the house that feeds them, the traffic on the street always stops.  Only once have I heard as much as a car horn.) 

The Ks and first grade did the obvious like singing "Six Little Ducks That I Once Knew" and reciting "Five Little Ducks Went Out to Play".  They colored ducks that we could then attach to a craft stick for simple puppet.  You should have seen the ducks.  They were beautiful and creative.  One boy spent a long time carefully coloring concentric circles in bright colors and then rays of other colors to complete his duck.  He named it "Radiated Duck."

It amazed me how many picture books we had about ducks--so many that I could not possible share them all.

The natural first choice for duck stories is the classic, Caldecott Award winning, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey.  It was first published in 1941 and is still a lovely and much loved story.  I did not get to know Boston until my daughter moved there for graduate school, but I immediately recognized the Public Gardens from the many times I saw it when I read this book over and over.  The cars and the police uniforms may have changed but the swan boats are still there.  Of course, now there is also the row of duck statues for Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack, Quack, and Mrs. Mallard.  If you are going to Boston, be sure to read (or re-read) this story so you can fully enjoy seeing the Charles River and other sights of the city.

Bringing memories of the illustrations of Make Way for Ducklings  to a new story is just part of the charm of Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore.  It gives a happy ending to the story we hear all too often of ducklings that fall through the grate on the city drainage system.  Thanks to clear thinking humans the ducks are saved after their fall and reunited with their mother who insists that she has to lead them across the street...this time with help.

Outfoxed by Mike Twohy has great illustrations and a story that is guaranteed to get laughs from kids and adults.  Fox raids the hen house at great peril to himself only to find that he has actually gotten a duck when his heart was set on a chicken dinner.  He is willing to settle until the duck announces with a wag of its tail and a slobbering lick to fox's face that he is actually a dog.  For the rest of that evening the duck does all kinds of dog like things--from lots of jumping and licking to  barking and looking adorable.  That night he even sleeps with fox.  Alas, in the morning, fox decides that the darling duck/dog needs to go back to the far because a fox does not keep a pet.  Duck/dog cries pitifully but fox throws him over the farm fence, anyway.  Has fox made a mistake?  The twist at the end will answer that question.

Patricia Polacco writes so many well known books that sometimes others are overlooked.  One of those is John Philip Duck which tells the story of the little boy that brings his pet duck to work at the
Peabody Hotel in Memphis and that duck grows up to be one of the ducks that daily ride the elevator down to the main lobby swim in the fountain, under the guidance of the Duck Master, a job first given to the young boy who started the tradition.  The story has just the right balance of tension and charm along with its historical accuracies.

Duck to the Rescue continues the series by John Himmelman, however, unlike cows, pigs, and chickens, duck does not seem to be able to get anything quite right.  Sheep has the perfect solution.  This is a series loved by the kids as they love to chant, "Duck (or whoever the animal of the book is) to the Rescue!" every third page and then see what happens next.

Guji, Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen can be a very deep story if you want to make it that.  It is all about making choices about who you are and who your family is.  Of course, the kids just want to see what this crocodile hatched into a duck family does after meeting his bad crocodile cousins.  He is one smart crocoduck.  The illustrations are especially quirky and charming.

There are myriad other duck stories.  Look for titles by Jez Alborough, Doreen Cronin, Jackie Urbanovic and more.  Let me know what makes you feel just duckie.

Note Emerson students:  Lucky Duckies will be back at Emerson after break.  See if you can win a little duck by checking out a book that is checked out Lucky Duckie.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

NPR's 100 Must Reads for Kids

You may have recently heard or seen the list that NPR has created of the 100 Must-Reads for Kids 9-14.  (It was one of their most shared stories last week--many of them coming to me from friends and other sources.)  I have read it several times now and want to say that I think it is a great list and then add the caveat that so many others noted in the comments.  Nine to fourteen is a huge age range and some of these books are clearly at the top of this range while others skim the lower reaches.  Look on a library catalog (such as Emerson School's catalog which can be found in the library section which is under  of the school website) or even Amazon or the like.  (Amazon is great for information gathering but whenever it is possible I will argue for shopping at your local bookstore because bookstores are worth saving.)

That said, there is one choice of best books that I feel needs a comment.  Please, if you are going to read The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder,  be sure to balance those stories with The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich  along with the others in the trilogy.  (You will find The Birchbark House on the NPR list, too.)  Erdrich's children's books are often compared to Wilder's books as they describe daily life for an Ojibwas family in about the same time and place.   They add balance to the often stereotypical and negative images of Native Americans that Wilder includes in her books.  I understand that Wilder was writing in a certain time and of her childhood memories.  There is much to be said for these books that are classics for good reason.  However, I cringe at the thought of young people still harboring these biases in today's world.  (Full disclosure here--I never have particularly enjoyed the Little House books, not even as a young girl growing up in the foothills of Montana. Or perhaps I was a young girl growing up in the middle of nowhere.  Almost everyone I have ever discussed these books with has had a very different impression, even women who grew up in the rural West.)

 I want to applaud a few of the titles from this list that I think are outstanding and often overlooked.

A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck is something of a hard sell in my library but if you want a good chuckle combined with historical insight and a heartwarming family, it would be hard to find a better book than this one.  I would suggest grades four and up as the best audience to enjoy one of the quirkiest grandmothers in children's literature.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan offers up both cultural and socio-economic differences in a touching story that will be enjoyed by grades 4-7 or so.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate  won this year's Newbery award.  I was skeptical about it when I read the descriptions and probably would have been a little put off by the description given on this list, but I promise you that it is much better than any description I have seen and is very worthy of the award.  Grades 4-7 are good for this one.

Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater is a classic for a reason.  Don't think that seeing the movie means you have any idea of how wonderful this book is.  Anyone of any age will enjoy this book.

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden falls into the classic category, too, and is a story that has passed the test of time for good reason.  Be sure to find a copy that gives ample recognition to the wonderful illustrations by Garth Williams (whose work you will also find in other classics such as Charlotte's Web and Little House on the Prairie).

Half Magic by Edward Eager was one of my favorite books as a child and started me on the grand adventure of reading fantasy.  Read all of the books in the series. These are great for reading aloud at any age and many second graders can tackle them alone.

The Borrowers by Mary Norton left me incapable of ever looking at little things ribbons, toys, nuts, and such without wondering how a tiny person would put it to use.  I am going to say their readership begins at about grade three.  (As [almost] always, they are better than the movie or the Disney books of the same title.)

The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis should be required reading for everyone--no I would never really require everyone to read any given book, but that is how highly I regard this novel of family, the realities of racial relations, and a big slice of American history. There are some harsh scenes of racial conflict but there are also some amazing scenes of family love and humor, all of which are appropriate for grades four and up.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia also has themes of family and racial tensions and a good dose of humor though it is very different from that of the Watsons.  I think people, especially girls, will enjoy this most beginning in grade five.

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Edwards is a book that kids come across years after it was read to them in first or second grade to tell me that it was the best book they ever heard and then they read it again and confirm that they still love it.  Yes, Julie Edwards is better known as the Julie Andrews who sang her way into the hearts of millions as Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is simply beautiful.  Don't miss it if you are in grade three or above.

Inside Out and Back Again  by Thanhha Lai is so much more than poetry.  It is a beautiful story of a girl finding her way without losing her roots.  I suggest it for grades five and up.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer is for middle school and up as it is a harsh, almost too real-sounding dystopian novel that may be the best of this genre that I have ever read.  A sequel is set to come out in September of this year.   Nancy Farmer has many other books that should not be missed.  The Warm Place is for slightly younger readers, grade three or four and up, but the rest are really aimed at older readers.

The 21 Balloons by William Pene DuBois is another classic that seems dated at times but is a rollicking good story that will win readers in grades three and up in a vary short time. I have fond memories of reading it with my children and having take many breaks to laugh or to think about some of the wild ideas that make this story so unique.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Middle School students may be closer to the same reading levels than they were in first or second grade, but their maturity and interests vary greatly.  This list is one that should be regarded as having the potential to please everyone but it is almost certain that not every title will be appropriate or appealing to everyone.  

Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel Fattah is told through the eyes of a young Palestinian girl who must travel through Israeli territory to help her grandmother.  

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe by Douglas Adams  and its many sequels has become a classic of science-fiction and humor.

Watership Down by Richard Adams resonated with me when I read it because it is far more than just a story of rabbits who need to find a new home.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie faces many of the problems of every young man with the added conflict of having to live in two worlds--that of the reservation which is home to his family and his heritage and that of the white high school that recruits him to play basketball.  The cartoon drawings in the book help to add  humor and understanding to a difficult life.  Warning:  The story is very frank about what young men deal with as they mature, including sexual issues.  Sherman Alexie gets mixed reviews from people who care about Native American stories and may be offensive to some people on that level.  That said, it is an interesting story that will move and motivate many readers.

City of the Beast by Isabel Allende  (and two others in the series) follows a young boy as he joins his grandmother on an expedition in the Amazon.  There is a good mix of magic and reality in this book by a highly respect Latin American author.

Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez is based on the author's experiences growing up in the Dominican Republic under the harsh dictatorship of the time.

Chains;, Fever, 1793; and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson perhaps seem at first glance to have little in common besides having the same author. The other tie that quickly becomes evident is the outstanding storytelling.  The first two of these are historical--the first about free African Americans living in the American Colonies at the time of the Revolution and the second is about the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. Both will hold interest to the last page.  A parent of a daughter told me a few years ago that she wished her daughter and every 8th grade girl would read Speak before entering high school.  It tells of a young girl who goes to a party in that summer between 8th and 9th grade where something so terrible happens that she quits talking.  Her story is slowly, often painfully, revealed in a manner that warns girls of what could happen in a seemingly innocent setting--both in what happens to the main character and in how easily her friends are able and willing to mistreat her.

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby is also about a girl who is mistreated, but this time the setting is much less common.  She leaves an orphanage to join a circus wonder show.  Needless to say there are many odd characters.  This book is tough to read at times with its stories of child abuse. It is also moving and an interesting window into circus life.

My Life With the Lincolns by Gayle Brandeis offers some lighter reading as a girl living in Chicago in the 1960s grow to believe that her family is the reincarnation of the family of Abe Lincoln (her father's initials are A.B.E. for one thing) and decides she has to protect her father from Lincoln's fate.  Her father is very involved with the Civil Rights movement and she gets dragged along to much of the activity, too.

Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos is the story of a Muslim girl whose family is illegally in the United States and how they work to be legal and safe and accepted.

Playground by 50 Cents surprised me as I usually don't have high expectations for children's books written by celebrities.  This novel by a rapper is well written and poignant as it talks of a young boy trying to fit in with the crowd while struggling to understand his parents.

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis is my favorite of all of Curtis' books.  It is also written for older readers than the popular Watston's Go to Birmingham--1963 and Bud, Not Buddy.  This book takes us to Canada and the first town specifically built for escaped slaves from the United States.  Elijah is the first child to be born there so he does not understand slavery until he travels to Detroit and sees the reality of it.  As with every Curtis book, the story has plenty of humor along with strong historical information.

Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle will be an easy reader for many middle school students but this interesting adventure of a small boy for whom a tree is the totality of his universe carries a big environmental impact that will be enjoyed and pondered long after the last page.

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd weaves a mystery around a missing cousin who comes to visit.  Only the boy dealing with life on the autism spectrum has the kind of thinking skills to find a solution.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper will change the way you look at people with severe disabilities.  It is all too easy and common to think of someone who can not speak or control their muscles as somehow mentally inferior.  The narrator of this story knows that first hand because she has dealt with cerebral palsy her entire life.  A text to speech machine lets her prove how much she knows and can do but may not be enough to help her make friends.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer takes dystopian novels to a high level.  Set in a land between Mexico and the United States that is run by a cruel dictator who expects that cloning will keep him alive with harvested organs, this is the story of one of the clones.  It is powerful storytelling.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle made me laugh out loud.  Middle Schooler Nate travels alone from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to live his dream of auditioning for a Broadway show.  His small town reactions to the big city are perfect as are the descriptions of stage parents.

The Big Splash and Sidekicks by Jack D. Ferraiolo are lighthearted looks at almost typical life.  The Big Splash  is what the students in one middle school calls a practice of  carefully directing water balloons at classmates to help make clear their standing in the social pecking order.  Sidekicks  reveals some of the difficulties of being an adolescent super hero, from the perils of wearing tights to developing  a crush on your arch-enemy who somehow turns out to be a girl.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos is based on the author's childhood in the actual town of Norvelt, a city with an interesting history of its own.  The story is filled with interesting characters, typical pre-teen angst, and some surprises.  It won the Newbery Award.

The  Princess Bride by William Goldman did not cross my path until I was an adult but its humor and adventure is perfect for middle school readers, too.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon was written for adults but soon became popular with young adult readers.  The narrator experiences life through the view of a high functioning autistic teen who uses math to explain much of what he sees and hears.  This situation can make life confusing and difficult but it also helps him solve a mystery.

Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger features a group of boys willing to work hard to avoid having to work over one of the last sweet summers of high school.  Humor builds as every project they devise to keep them out of the workforce leads to new problems.

The Saint of Dragons by Jason Hightman uses a rather familiar plot of a boy discovering his magical powers to take the reader on a high adventure with dragons and prophecy and unexpected developments.  There is a sequel, too.

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Leib is maybe best explained by noting that the its author is a producer of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and worked for the Simpsons TV show.  It is non-stop sarcastic humor about a friendless boy who is willing to go to any lengths to buy votes in a school election.  Luckily, he has been financially wheeling and dealing long enough and well enough to have plenty of money to spend.

The Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mobus  creates an alternative world in New York City that includes famous figures who have played a part in the history of the city.  It has high adventure while introducing myriad characters, historical and fictional.

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville takes the reader to alternative version of famous cities of the world.  Un Lun Dun is almost like London but not really.

Monster by Walter Dean Myer is not for the faint of heart.  It is the powerful story of a young African American boy who is about to go on trial for robbery and murder.  He keeps going over the crime, both in a movie he is directing in his mind and in his journal, and can not be confident that he is innocent or was unintentionally somehow responsible.  This is a very powerful look at jails, the court system, and life in a tough neighborhood.

A Step From Heaven by An Na is deceptively brief  and easy to read.  The story is not easy, however, as it tells of a girl moving from Korea with her dysfunctional family and trying to adapt to life in the United States.

This Dark Endeavor and Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel show the talent and diversity of this author who visited Emerson a few years ago.  This Dark Endeavor  is the author's imagining of what happened to the Frankenstein brothers before the more famous story.  It is has mystery, love, magic, and events that make it a true work of horror.  Half Brother  has horror of another kind--the horror a boy feels first when is life is torn apart when the family "adopts" a chimpanzee to be his little brother for research purposes and again when they take that brother away.

Life As We Know It; The Dead and the Gone; and This World We Live In  by Susan Beth Pfeffer imagine a world thrown into chaos when the moon is knocked out of its orbit. The first book tells the story through the eyes of a teen girl in rural Pennsylvania.   The second takes us to New York City and the event as it affects a young man, and the third is both of their stories.  

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs uses old photographs that the author discovered in antique shops and at flea markets to create the characters who inhabit this peculiar home and haunt the boy who sets out to discover how they are a part of his grandfather's life.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is a powerful story of a Lithuanian family who is exiled to Siberia by Stalin.  I recently convinced one of my adult book clubs to read this.  They enjoyed the experience.

Scrawl by Mark Shulman is written as a journal required in a high school detention setting.  I confess that I am partial to journals and letters and such, so maybe not everyone will find it as interesting, moving, and enjoyable as I did.

The Schwa Was Here My Neal Shusterman was my first introduction to this author who remembers the ups and downs of social situations in middle and high school much the same way I do.  I liked the idea of someone being so bland that he was invisible and then others putting that talent to good use.

Runaway and The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen are both about girls running.  Runaway is the journal of a girl who runs away from home and tells of her experiences living on the streets and struggling just to get a meal and a place to sleep.  The Running Dream tells the story of a girl who was a champion runner until a tragic accident takes her legs.  She must learn to be strong for herself and so she can help others.

The Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede melds the history of the Westward Expansion with magic in intriguing ways that will probably lead the reader directly to the sequel.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Recently a co-worker and I were supposed to present a discussion of using graphic novels and non-fiction to teach diversity and justice.  Unfortunately, our presentation was cancelled due to lack of participants in the workshop, but I am not about to let my annotated bibliography go to waste so I will present it here.

My people are a bit put off by graphic works, viewing them as too simplistic or silly.  Perhaps people are remembering the many hours that they spent illicitly reading comic books by Marvel and the like under the blankets after being told to go to sleep.  Such memories are generally too pleasant to have possibly been good for a growing mind.  Recent research seems to be pointing to the opposite being true.  There are strong suggestions that reading a work in graphic format actually increases the ability to remember it.  I don't know if this is true, but I do know that graphic works open up worlds to kids that they might otherwise never enter.  Many of the students who use my library gravitate to the graphic works as a jumping off point to reading more traditional formats.

Don't write off these works until you have had a chance to read them and, perhaps, witnessed a young person reading them.  Graphic works have a lot to offer.  Start with some from this list and then go on to read more.  They are addictive.  (P.S.  They are not just for kids anymore either.  More and more adult level graphic works are being published, especially memoires.)


Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword and Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch—Grades 4-7   This book will capture readers so completely with trolls and magic and adventure that they will not realize how much they are learning about and appreciating Orthodox Judaism and its customs. Mirka wants to fight trolls and dabble in magic but she does not want to forget the meaningful traditions of her faith. This is a good way to look at communities that we may not understand while discussing religion, self-identity, and women’s rights.

Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest by John Lechner –Grades 1-4   This carries an overt
anti-bullying message along with a story of crazy adventure and some facts (and plenty of imagined
information) about burrs. Toss in a generous dose of humor and kids will find that this book sticks to
them like a burr to wild dog.

Take What You Can Carry by Kevin C. Pyle—Grades 7 and up   In 1978, Kyle, a troubled teen, can only take what he can carry when he shoplifts from a convenience store. In 1941, Ken and 110,00 other Japanese Americans sent to internment camps were instructed to only take what they can carry. These two stories are told side by side unit as it gradually becomes evident that Kyle is stealing from Ken. This novel offers both history and compassion.

Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow by James Sturm and Rich Tommaso—Grades 5 and up   It is not easy to separate fact from fiction in this story of a young man who hopes to follow Satchel Paige into the Negro League. Emmet, the narrator, tries out against Paige in 1929 but suffers an injury that keeps him back home as a sharecropper but always following baseball and his heroes. There are short updates of his life and world affairs until on September 2, 1944, when Satchel Paige and the All-Stars play against the local all-white team of the Tuckwilla All-Stars. With all the excitement of a good baseball game, readers learn about Jim Crow, standing up for your rights, and pride in one’s actions in this powerful story.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan—Grades 7 and up  My co-worker and top-notch 7th grade teacher, Beth Nazario, uses this wordless book to teach writing along with helping students experience what it means to be an immigrant.  The students write about what they are reading and imagine themselves being one of the un-named immigrants depicted inside the front cover.  After much discussion and introspection, the students each experience an imaginary interview with a customs officer who does not speak English.  Older students or adults who are fluent in another language interviews the student with typical questions.  The experience is often quite powerful.  Even without this in-depth study, this is a powerful book.

Lost and Found by Shaun Tan—All Ages   It takes a more sophisticated reading and guidance to get all of the nuances of the short graphic stories in this collection which will be enjoyed by all ages for their quirky humor. For discussing the reception to immigrants (“the immigrant problem”) my choice would be to read and discuss “The Rabbits” (words by John Marsden). It resonates especially if you have seen the documentary movie “Rabbit Proof Fence” which also comes from Australia.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier—Grades 6-9 This novel won a Stonewall Honor Book Award in January 2013 for its balanced portrayal of gays in a middle school setting. The story follows members of a drama department in their budget strapped production of a musical. The protagonist, Callie, is the set designer who dreams big both for the production and for finally finding a meaningful relationship. Will one of the two cute boys be the answer to her dreams? She deals with declarations of sexual orientation in a way that seems very realistic and appropriate.


Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection edited by Matt Dembicki—Grades 5 and up   Dembicki sent requests throughout North America to find Native American storytellers willing to tell their traditional stories and let noted graphic artists illustrate them. The tellers selected the illustrator who they thought would best fit their story. Everyone loves a good trickster tale, making this book an especially good introduction to Native American folklore. Whether you are selecting based on the graphics, the moral, the humor, or the adventure, you are sure to find several here that will be appealing.

The Shark King by R. Kikuo Johnson—Grades 1-5   First and foremost, this is an intriguing telling of the Hawaiian tale of Nanaue. It is also simple enough for emergent readers while engaging enough to keep older readers interested until the final page. Nanaue is the son of a mortal woman and the shark king.  His father disappears before his birth, leaving a cape and instructions that his son will need it. Parental separation is one topic dealt with in the book, but more intense is its discussion of bullying and survival.

The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea by Anne Sibley O’Brien—Grades 3-6 Folktales from Korea are not in abundance so you will want to give this award winning graphic novel a try for many reasons. First of all it tells a story little known in this part of the world. Add to that the
comparison to the European Robin Hood and then top it off with the colorful illustrations and you have an enjoyable way to dig deeper into the culture of Korea.


Little White Duck: A Childhood in China by Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez—Grades 4-7 China in the 1970s was in flux so being a child in that time and place could not have been easy. The eight short stories in this collection are based on the author’s life and give a unique glimpse into life in China before and after the death of Chairman Mao. The text and illustrations provide a glimpse not only into the life of the author, but also the history of China and the wealth and beauty of traditional Chinese teachings.

Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love by Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack, Jr. Illustrated by Randy DuBurke—Grades 4 and up   This biography uses the writings of Nat Love to follow his life from his 1854 birth into slavery through his life as the most famous African-American cowboy in the Old West. He knew such luminaries as Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid, was well known for his skills in roping, shooting, and roping, and was a real character of the time. Love published his autobiography in 1907; his words are mixed with a little bit of creative fiction to make a compelling read.

Around the World by Matt Phelan—Grades 4 – 8    Phelan is an award winning graphic novelist and historical fiction writer who has turned to the true tales three daring adventurers of the nineteenth
century who circumnavigated the globe in ways never seen before. Former miner Thomas Stevens rode his bicycle around the world in 1884 when bikes still had that amazing big wheel in the front; reporter Nellie Bly only needed 80 days in 1889 for her trip; and retired sea captain quietly set sail in a small sloop in 1895 and became the first person to sail around the world alone. This stories encourage bravery, creativity, endurance, and the power of both sexes to do the impossible.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier—Grades 5 and up   Here is a memoir that will resonate with tweens and
teens. When Raina was about to start Middle School, she fell and damaged her two front teeth. To fix
this dental nightmare required that she experience surgery, implants, and most embarrassingly for a
girl trying to fit in with the cool kids, headgear and false teeth. Use this book to begin discussions about disability, bullying, or just trying to fit in when you are obviously very different looking.


These poems were written by 7th grade Language Arts students in the past couple of years.  I have changed names to initials, but otherwise they are as they were written.  If I do say so myself, some are quite good.  Many thanks to the students who were willing to share their work with me.

I’ve lived, I’ve laughed, I’ve loved
I’ve seen the gifts from above
I’ve been around the globe
I’ve seen the terrors from below
I’ve been to the highest mountain peaks
I’ve collected all I’ll ever seek
I have nothing but I’ve got all
from great heights I doth fall
to a fiery H*** with which I came
I now do forsake my name
I do give up humanity
and turn my back on the world I see
only one thought comes to mind
when I leave god rest my kind

o soccer soccer soccer
oh how i doth love thee
when i am old and feeble
to the young shall i teach thee



How can I find a way to breathe,
Why can’t I find a place of peace?

Salt water seas and salty breeze,
Surely that’s the life for me?
Fish are swimming in the shallows,
Hungry birds are mourning shadows.

Where am I, this salty place?
The sea is where I’m at to date.


The waves are lapping
at the rocks,
and their shimmering
waters are churning
pools, churned by
the huge hands
of a god.


The internet is a heaven
a home away from home
the many wonderful things it does
like do research and write papers
The internet is a heaven.


ROTFL and I went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.
I started to die and ROTFL cried and I asked what was the matter.
ROTFL said, “I died.” I screamed “You lie!”
and I kicked ROTFL in the nose.
The end.


So cute and so small
Smelled sweet like the trees
I used to cradle her
‘Til she got the fleas.


Dreams hate the dark
Dark hates the light
Light hates to fight
Fight breaks the night
Night brings morn
Morn brings day
Day brings worn
Worn needs sleep
Sleep for dreams.


The Fire
The fire burns,
it crackles and pops,
sparks fly,
and embers flash.

It toasts the treats,
before they meet,
the chocolate filling,
and Graham cracker sandwich.

The fire burns on,
without pause it continues,
to light up the camp site,
as it soothes everything around it.

The fire is at its Zenith,
for soon it will go south and die,
but the kindle will stay,
as its memory will live on.


The Ball

The ball bounces,
some of it rubs off,
it waits for the racket to trounce it,
as if it’s companion had coughed,
it spirals into the twine.

But once again,
like a newborn animal,
the yellow-green sphere begins its journey,
over the white tape,
and between the two menacing sets of strings.

The match will soon end,
the ball will sit,
the players will leave,
but the ball will wait,
to bounce again.


The Pillow

The pillow lies soft, warm, and nice,
lavender and goose feather scent,
made for the head of those it calms,
sending them into a deep trance,
its powers send you into a sleep,
like none other ever before,
waiting for tomorrow's morning,
is the pillow.   


BAM! I hear the thunder
SLAM! I see the lightening
brighten up the night.
I run up to my bedroom
cowering in fright.

I crawl under the bedsheets
as I hear the thunder beats,
knowing if I go to sleep,
the storm will pass on.

I wake up in the morning,
and everything is drenched.
My backyard is all wet,
but I bet that today’s weather
will be better yet.


Shakespearean Sonnet #1:


The planes that flew across the USA,
through the brilliant sunshine of that morning
were hijacked to America’s dismay,
crushed our country’s heart without a warning.

They hit the towers with a horrid force,
trapping people inside by the fires,
people screamed as the planes met their planned course,

towers turned to devastating pyres.

The towers gave after many hours,
billowing smoke as they fell to the ground.
People were crushed under the two towers,

unless they jumped or fell without a sound.

The towers did finally surrender,
billowing smoke as they crashed to the ground.
To the fall so many lives were rendered

unless they jumped or fell without a sound.

The memory of that horrific day,
A spot in history of darkest gray.


Shakespearean Sonnet #2:


The ocean, unforgiving are its tides.
Its creatures behave in ways much the same.
The ocean with its rules they all abide,
the ocean we know will never be tame.

The ships that travel ‘cross its surface waves,
get battered and may sink beneath its depths.
The ocean has become a place with graves,
because of so many sailors’ missteps.

The ocean can also be beautiful,
a sunset above its bluest surface.
The fish swimming about as usual,
all things existing with a known purpose.

The ocean is so unpredictable,
when it’s beautiful it’s forgivable.


I love my hockey stick
It loves me back
It follows me everywhere I go
It sleeps on a rack.

I love my hockey stick
It’s oranage, not red.
And every evening,
It tucks me into bed.


Dust to dust
Death, so final
Where do I go after the fall?
Seems like yesterday I was
Running, jumping and climbing.
No more.

There is no turning back.
I can see the light.
My body is still.
Today is my day to explore.
I am at peace.


Gurgling and gleaming
The glowing lava slips down the mountain.
The gigantic volcano erupts
Going, going, gone.


I am a test.
I hear their moans and groans,
As the teacher announces their arrival.
Most hate me, very few like me,
But I don’t care.
I hate all of them, too.
They don’t know any of my answers.
Most of them hit me,
As they tap their pencil.
While they wait for the school
Bell to ring.
But if you study,
And treat me well,
Don’t you fear.
I’ll make sure
The next time I see you,
I’ll have a


Swish! goes the wind.
Splash! goes the water.
Sizzle! goes the fire.
These are the sounds
that make the Earth go round.


Dandelion Seeds
A Dandelion seed is a fish in the air
Not knowing its destination
but that it’s going to get there
It floats through the wind
tumbling and tossing
wishes clinging on.


Smack! The puck hits the ice.
Players push and fight
for possession.
Vroom! As it drives down the ice
toward the defensive side.
Whoosh! As it flies over the goalie’s shoulder
stick side.


There once was a man named Tesla
Invented so many things.
From neon lights, to coils
He even tested wings.

Edison was a very stubborn man
He wouldn’t give up DC.
Most of his inventions were a sham,
Including “his” electricity.

Oh tree
Oh green tree
You are like a giant
So tall and fat
With your busy leaves
You make me feel so
You may be tall
But you are very slow
Inching your way to the sky.

Tissue after tissue
Slime running by
Is this really my issue
Or just another lie?
I feel the goo
Of green and yellow.
I know it’s true,
For it feels like jello.


The Fire

Glowing orange
Burning hot
Warming the room
Night after night.

I come inside and feel the heat.
The cold winter day has me quite beat.
The heater is roaring like a bear.
My mother is sitting in a chair.
And I just crash on the couch.


As the light comes on, we prepare to jump.
As the light comes on, we know we may die.
We line up to go, and hear a loud bump.
We’re hit! These enemy fighters are sly.
The first trooper steps up to make the plunge.
It’s my turn to go and my nerves are shot.
I sum up my courage and make the lunge.
Oh how I wish I was back in my cot.
I am falling toward the enemy lines,
as the transport explodes right above me.
I’m lucky enough to avoid the mines.
One man does not, but I’m better off than he.
We suffered some deaths, but life must go on.
Now we will turn it over to recon.


The Seashell
I am a seashell
washed up on the beach.
All around, noises are loud.
As the tide washes ever closer,
I know I am almost home.

I feel the water close around,
and no longer feel the sand.
As I am washed away,
I know I’m home to stay.



The first to come is thy of sweet and soft.
Which birds do sing and smile to the sun.
Now shines so bright and through the clouds it wafts.
And in the end the rain has past and done.
The second is of days so hot you’ll shy.
And in the meadows little children play.
And when it’s over you are sure to cry.
Because it’s almost time for school’s first day.
The third that comes is when leaves fall off trees.
And children dress in scary clothes at night.
And school resumes and things begin to freeze.
And the cold will surely give you a fright.
And lastly that falls is the snow filled nights.
And then the new year will take to its flight.


Bumble bee
Bumble bee oh bumble bee,
You are a mini sun.
With black stripes.
That are your tights.
And fur of a bear that stuns.
Oh bumble bee oh bumble bee
Please oh please
Don’t sting me!

I run in an open valley.
One lush and green.
I run across the river.
The sky is now serene.
I look into the water.
So deep, so blue.
But the reflection I see is not me.
It’s you.



Forever made.
Hard to fix.

Many are not on purpose,
Some are lies.
Some made to cover
embarrassing moments.
Never being able
to figure it out.

Making them,
watching them
being made.
Never know
what to do
when it ruins
something special.


The Violion
A beautiful instrument
with music so beautiful
like a bird singing its song.

Carved wood,
pretty as calligraphy.
Many play it,
some just listen.


The earth is teeming with unending life,
With bugs and other revolting creatures,
But sometimes we are constantly in strife,
But Earth has many other great features.
The modern days are different than the past,
The prehistoric humans were a sight,
But now we are advancing very fast,
Faster than the quick and fast speed of light.
The oceans cover the Earth vast and blue,
Don’t drink the water because it has salt.
And deep in the bedrock there lies a clue,
As to why LA has a line of fault.
The heart is our home, the Earth is our guide,
Once it was full of carbon monoxide.


The Housefly

There is a buzzing in the house,
LIke a sleeping person on helium.
Even though that housefly is a jerk,
He is still better than my spouse.


Shakespearean Sonnet

April dear April, oh please do come soon,
I need sweet roses and buds on the trees,
I need pure raindrops so clear and so blue,
I want cool winds, and a soft calm breeze.
April showers shall bring on May flowers,
I’ve seen them in April all in their bloom,

I know May has rain, comes for some hours,
I need tulips, nature’s perfect perfume.
Oh my dear April your cloudy blue skies,
The smell of the spring it comes in your wake,
Please don’t come back just to tell me goodbye,
Oh April, if you leave, my heart, will break.

Oh April don’t go, it means much to me,
April my dear, you must simply agree.


Where Poetry Hides

I met him that night,
When I walked through the dark,
Mist it hung with shadows everywhere in sight,
I saw him,
the mater,
the master of dreams.
Where does poetry hide?
He asked,
From where does it come?
I said I would search,
the land in my mind,
and I walked around my thoughts,
all through the night.
On roads and rivers,
meandering my mind,
I found it you see,
where poetry hides,
inside the creativity of you and me.


A gushing waterfall and a bubbly spring,
This is a place where nature loves to sing.
Enormous domed rocks that are ringed by trees,
A sunsplashed meadow cooled by the breeze.
The evening brings forth a colorful display,
The bright orange sky gives way to red rays.
I run in the meadow through a sea of flowers,
I know I must leave in just a few hours.
And suddenly there is nothing blue blue,
I start to fall there is nothing I can do.
I land in the rough and gritty sand,
And as I stand up I know I’m on land,
There is quite a sight a bright blue sea,
Inside that there is a colorful coral reef,
Parrots I see those colorful birds,
They mimic many tunes that I know I have heard,
Something quite soft is pressed to my face,
Oh but wait where, where was that place?
remember, remember, try to think,
I know i Have lost it as soon as I blink,
I am now awake and I have lost it,
It’s gone for good--lickety split.


Dare Me to Write a Sonnet (Because I Will)

Fourteen lines end with a rhyming couplet
Words all neatly lined up in one stanza
Every second line to rhyme you must get
Trying not to sound too much like Yoda.
Fifth line now and new endings introduced
Into the rhyme scheme for the next two lines
More complex poems and harder to deduce
cummings would have thought them too strict confines
Four more lines until the rhyming end now
Ten fingers tapping out the syllables
When I first started only thought was, “How?”
End now nearing fits words into labels
Dare me write a decent Shakespeare sonnet?
For you I will and put a bow on it.


Dear Math
It’s not your fault.
I’ve always worked better with words than numbers anyway.
It’s not that I have anything against you.
You’re dead useful, I’ll give you that.
It’s just, when you follow me home, it bugs me.
Wanting to draw, wanting to write,
Wanting to create

And then there’s you
I’m like an unwilling babysitter
You’ll get me into trouble if I leave you.
It’s not your fault, it’s ust your nature
It isn’t my fault if I want to ignore you sometimes?
You’re just so stuffy and tedious
All rules, and unlike grammar, you learn them to follow them
It’s not your fault, Math
I’ve just got enough problems of my own.


Water dripping off nowhere cliff
Water falling
    Then ceasing
Water drenching pavement
    Dribbles off
Water, freezing to the bone
    Proves skin isn’t waterproff
Water distorting window glass
    Like a moving sea through air
Water comes and goes in beats
Water, then, is music
    And all the air-fishes ptiches        their colors context
All the Earth’s an ear
    And wet.


You came to life one day
You took my breath away
The sun came out
I started to pout
There’s nothing left to say!



You are the color of the sky

You are the color of sadness
You make people high
And then they create madness


One day, one day
I will go
out, out
into the snow
walking, walking
to and fro.
Hello, hello
to the new world
where I can travel
wherever I please.
Travel, travel
without even a wheeze.
Goodbye, goodbye
to the old world.
Goodbye, goodbye
to the old life.



I like to go into the snow
it is so very fun.
I like to run and run around
and bound and bound and bound.
I like to be in the winter
it is so very fun.


Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day,
Is how Shakespeare began that famous poem.
I really do not have much more to say,
But I guess I will have to write some more.
Poetry is not my favorite thing,
And sometimes it just seems like a huge bore.
It makes my head hurt with a real bad sting,
So bad I may just walk right out the door.
I am sitting and writing this long thing
So I can get the max number of points
And in my head there is a droning ring
Also a sudden aching in my joints
I don’t think that there is much more to do
So now I will present this poem to you!


Guitar Pick

Oh guitar pick
You’re so tolerant.
As I pick you against the strings,
You never complain.
Even when I get mad
and throw you,
You never hurt me.
Unless I step on you.


Sir Issac Newton
Was a tootin’
An apple fell on his head,
So he invented gravity instead.


Snow to Spring

it covers the Earth like a blanket.
come through and pierce it.
hotter than the desert,
and steals our blanket.
the snow is gone.
spring has sprung!


The Season of Life (Shakespearean Sonnet)
There is no month like the month known as May.
When butterflies come out and start to fly,
And People start to enjoy sunny days.
When warmth comes forth, and snow is doomed to die.
The summer begins with a dimmed down buzz.
Tis the season for barbeques run wild,
and bumble bees begin to get their fuzz.
No more must conditions be so dire.
Because people must start to go outside,
and by their mothers’ rules they must abide.

Water travels through a river,
turn the handle, and it comes hither
drink its wetness, so refreshing.
quench my thirst, as I drink it.
Use the extra to feed the leaves
of the oak tree in my pantry.


There once was a cube named Rubik
It has a shape that was cubic.
It was from Dayan
Speed cube in my hand
This was a good Rubik’s cube to pick.


I walk on this world
without a care
of anything around me

No matter who calls
I don’t hear the voice
no cries, no demands, no pleas.

I only cared about me.
Everyone is like this,
filled with sorrow and regrets.

We must have faith and happiness
and believe in ourselves
to set us free.

It is free to choose.
The world isn’t perfect,
but you can help it be.



Who knows what lies there?
I can’t see in that blue square.

What could it be?
What could be in that dark sea?
A monster green?
A hairy fiend?

The world may never know,
The dark may never show.


Fender Stratocaster

Strum it, smash it
From classic rock, to heavy metal
Turn it up
Kick the pedal
Max volume
Min reverb
Works for every tune.

Razzles are delicious
They are candy that turns
Razzles come in six flavors
and are generally fun!


Oh dog,
you play,
and run,
and jump.
If I give you a treat
you might do a stunt.



Clouds are like cotton candy
because they are so sweet and dandy.
They float in the breeze
and look like anything you please:
a flower
a bug
a tower
a shrub.
Endless possibilities.


Doofus the Hen

Doofus is a big fat hen.
He lives in a old fox den.
He doesn’t like the stench:
It makes his teeth clench.

His life was pretty boring.
It mostly consisted of snoring.
But once, he strangely awoke
to find himself a bicycle spoke!


The Mortifying Cascade of Red-hots

It was your average day at the coal mine
When a bunch of bats flew straight out.
Something bad must’ve happened!
Someone heard a shout...

Run! Run! Run!
Like a crazy wren!
What’s that big red wave?
Just hurry towards the glen!

Wait, are those red-hots?
OMG! They are!
I should get myself some!
Whoops, I stepped in tar!

Help! I’m stuck in this pit!
I’m practically a fossil!
Red-hots are attacking!
This disaster is colossal...

Oh Noes! It’s here!
I’m nearly gonna drown!
Wait a second, what?
This was planned by you clowns?

This was all a prank? How could you!
I’m quitting this job, I don’t get a good pay.
Wait, you say I get to keep all the red-hots?
Fine, I’ll stay...


Life is like...

Life is like a hot bath,
It feels nice while you’re in it, but the longer you stay in, the more wrinkled you get.

Life is like a cherry soda,
Once you get to the good stuff, the fizz is gone.

Life is like a turkey,
No matter how you cut it, it’s still a turkey.

Life is like wine & cheese,
The older it gets, the better it is.

Life is like bread,
Until you do something with it, it just loafs about. (I c wut u did thar...)

Life is what you make of it,
So do the best you can.


Plastic Insanity

Higgledy piggledy,
Plastic insanity,
Two million tons of it,
Please no profanity.

Luckily, all of it’s
So it will rot away,
“Green” is achievable!


Beginning with autumn,
The leaves turn gold, orange, and red.
They lazily drift to the ground,
No hurry for the winter.
They lay in piles under the tree,
With the branches bare.
I wonder how they do when old.

Winter comes round,
and all the leaves are
under the snow and rotting,
Helping the ground for next year.

Finally, after the sun
decides to stay a while longer,
leaves grow back,
new, green, and fresh,
help the tree regain its strength.

Finally, the air gets hotter,
summer rolls in.
The trees take in
sun from longest days,
shade for us,
sun for them,
this is the way
so far
it is.


Random Poem

Dear clothing,


Lake Michigan

On my beaches, people make
sand castles, pits, and sandy cake.

On my beaches, children play
morning to evening, day by day.

On my beaches, some collect
specific stones, I suspect.

On my beaches, people forget,
just how much everyday they fret.

On my beaches, as quiet as a mouse,
some wish to own a house.

On my beaches, time slows down,
and people soon have to leave my town,

I am Lake Michigan,
tourists I get.
But I’ll always be here.
Don’t you forget!


The Annoying Seller (Shakespearean Sonnets)

When I was walking I saw a seller
He came forward with items so many
He asked me how I was, I said steller
He inquir’d if I could spare a penny.
I said, “I don’t have a need for your goods.”
But he persisted to try and sell them.
I turned to leave him and go to the woods.
But he stopped me and pulle out a large gem.
He said I could buy it if I wanted,
I really was starting to hate this guy.
I was really starting to be haunted.
i was beginning to wish that’d die.

He kept on persisting to buy his gem.
So I drew my sword and beheaded him.



Was may act so helter-skelter
But they still will give us shelter
They will always love us most
To them we offer this toast:

We admire them like a hero
They don’t treat us like a zero
They’re the ones we care for so
We should thank them, to and fro.

Sometimes we may yell and fight.
Words can really, really bite
But in the end we always say
I’m sorry that I was that way.

We know that they’re here for us.

They will always cheer for us.
We all love them such a bunch.
They sometimes even make us lunch.

So in this poem we will say,
I hope you’ll always be this way.
Think of all the things you’ve taught.
We love you an awful lot.


Shakespearean Sonnet

There once was a little boy, down the land.
He always playƩd outside all day long.

But on Tuesday, his fun was ruin’d by rain.
So the little boy chose to sing a song.
Everyone heard and came to sing as well.
There were so many people and they got stuck
in the house, mom would get mad so don’t tell.
They were there for days, until the mail truck
came. They were overjoyed to be let out.
The mailman walk’d up and opened the door.
They fell upon him and all scream’d and shou
with gladness. But then it started to pour.

The years lasting rain overfilled the bay.

The boy will play again outside someday.


“I am like love, I go where I please,
and please where I go.” said an

“I am like happiness, the more you chase me,
the more I will elude you,
but if you turn your attention to other
things, I will come sit softly on your
shoulder.” said another unknown.

To the caterpillar, I am the end of the
world, but at the same time, I am
the start to a new beginning.

I am the chance to start over,
To put your past behind you,
and think about your future.

I am a butterfly.

When you see me now, think of these
words, then try to be happy,
just like a bird.

Don’t worry about your past now,
think about today, this moment,
what you want to do, and how.

Think like a butterfly.




The Poem
I am not much of a poet,
I’d much rather be dancing
and everyone knows it.
This poem needs enhancing,
but I don’t know how to make it.
So I’ll just fake it.


The Woman and The Computer

Talking with no emotion
She is a computer
Never moving the muscles in her face
Never showing how she really feels


My car tells me when I should brake
and which steering corrections to make.
A warning will shoot
from the seat to my glute,
as the car gives my butt a firm shake.


Bright as the sun
If not brighter.

Fast as a cheetah
If not faster.


There once was a young girl named Sue.
Who hated getting the flu.
She ate an apple a day,
So her doctor would say,
“You don’t have the flu, young Sue.”


I am a light,
big and bright.
I live everywhere,
from homes to streets
giving light to everyone
This is my job around the world
to make it bright.


The sky is a place,
peaceful and blue,
the clouds full of grace
with the sun and the moon.


Oh poems, lovely poems
You each have your own rhythm.

You exist in couplets and tercets,
Some of you are written in sonnets.

Apostrophe and Simile
Are both very interesting to me.

The power of metaphors
Make things seem like you have never thought before.

Personification, repetition, conversation and alliteration
Have all different positions.

It expresses feelings they may be illogical, magical...
Did you guess what it is? It’s lyrical.

Onomatopoeia and assonance
Have kind of the same importance.

Stanzas, form and lines
Are not the same voices.

That’s a Quatrain.

I hope you enjoyed this poem
And understand its lesson.

I am a pumpkin.
I grew in a wonderful garden.

I made an excellent friend.
He is an eggplant.

The seasons have passed,
A little too fast.

But the time has come
For me to become...

A delicious soup.


through the forest where the cattails are.
20-30 wild screaming turkeys
breaking cattails
they flew off in the dull light
snowflakes were trickling down
the day was cold
the cattails crunching the turkeys screaming
still I wonder why they are there?
where will they go?
why were they spooked?
it was cold
but I seemed to forget
they just kept coming
flying so high
higher than I’ve ever seen them fly
it was stunning
and then
they were gone


Baseball Baseball is so fun.
I always hate when its done.
Baseball Baseball is not for everyone
cause the price of fun
Can hurt.


O Sweet Sweet Summer
how you whisk us away from school.
Away from all responsibility
Away from any real dedications
Nothing needed to be done
Everyone is having fun.
Nothing to do
Having FUN.


Inspiration is key
To make this be easy.
So someone can be done,
And not do another poem.

The ocean can be calm and friendly.
It can be like a water park.
It could be very forgiving,
But the ocean is a raging bull,
very unpredictable.
You better watch your back,
It could be charging at you.

My teacher told us to do poems,
And to make it worse, it was two.
I didn’t know how long it would take
Or how hard it would be
For me to just do two.

However, after a while I almost figured it out.
And it was harder than I thought.
And now that I have one,
I know that I will do another,
No doubt!


Shakespearean Sonnet
There once was an old dog who loved to play.
He always ran to fetch the purple ball.
But he hated to play in the late day,
When Christopher’s shadow was very tall.
Christopher was his favorite person,
Christopher always gave him yummy treats.
When he is with Christopher, he has fun.
Christopher’s treats were made out of buckwheat,
And they never had meat inside of them,
For Joe, the dog, does not like meat inside,
But loves to include a dandelion stem
In it though. Joe is kind and will abide.
Christopher loves Joey all the way through,
And of course Joey loves Christopher, too!


Barumba Snogalog
There once was a dog named Barumba Snogalog,
Who was agog to jog through the fog.
He stepped in a bog, and slipped on a frog,
and stumbled home worried he’d be flogged.

His master was kind, and wrapped him in a tog,
Then he handed him a bristlecone log.
His favorite to gnaw,
but like a typical dog,
he chewed on his master’s new clog.
This is the story of Barumba Snagalog.


A Flower

Alone, sitting still until the wind blows,
a package of pollen that glows.
Hitching a ride on currents of air,
flying off like a bird,
a cloud in the air.

Dusting a meadow filled with flowers,
later they will grow.
Sun and rain will bring new colors,
a rainbow will appear.


There once was a feller from Mars,
Who sat down and looked at the stars
And with one dirty shoe
He stood up and threw
And got ran over by a few space cars.


Oh my golly!
What could that be?
Is that
A bat?
Dear bat please
Don’t eat me!
At least let me say good-bye,
For I am just a little fly.




I’d rather go to the pool.
Or have some mule,
While playing pool.
While playing pool like a mule.
At the pool...?


curtain call
having a ball
That’s why I love acting
stage fright
opening night
That’s why I love acting
read through
blocking too
That’s why I love acting
take one
so fun
That’s why I love acting


Watch Me Fly
Watch Me Fly
i’m not yours anymore
i’m free
just me
by myself
i’m just me
not under your dominion
not yours
just me
Watch Me Fly


People pushing me
    I can’t do anything about it
People pouncing on
    my last bits of hope
People preying on
    rays of light and love


One teacher
and yells over the music,
“Does it have to be so loud?
And isn’t everyone supposed
to be
having fun?
No one’s smiling.”
The other replies,
“It has to be loud enough
to cover up
the sound of
hearts breaking.”
They glance over
standing there,
no friends clumped around her
dancing with
a boy sees her from across the room.
Although he could have chosen

He begins the dangerous journey
from his crowd of admirers
to that girl
She looks up from the ground
and sees him
sauntering over to
she is
Why would anyone choose me
over them?
She thinks in a panic.
He walks up and says
those five words
those measly five that can
“Will you dance with me?”


Crack an egg
Stir the butter
Break the yolk
Make it flutter
Stoke the heat
Hear it sizzle
Shake the salt
Just the drizzle
Flip it over
Just like that
Press it down
Squeeze it flat
Pop the toast
Spread the jam
Say the words--
Breakfast’s in!


A violin sings in the most beautiful voice of the world
Each note dances out into the room
With each sound it makes it is sure to turn a person out of gloom
The sound prances everywhere bringing everyone joy
It was born to let living things enjoy
To let everyone grin
That is the dancing violin.


Shakespearean Sonnet
Oh Poetry thou are a piece of art
Thou is the Mona Lisa of writing
you are what is needed to be smart
people who have none of you are fighting.

You can be hard or you can be easy
you can be smooth or you can be choppy
you are so easy you are even brezy
you can be neat or you can be sloppy.

Oh poetry you can have Odes of Odes
you are of the most silent of the arts
you can be about anything even toads
you even helped some make the red sea parts.

Now I must say goodbye to you my friend
Ad unfortunately this poem must end.



was a
cat that ate
a mouse computer.
He said that it tasted like chicken pie.
He said that it filled him up, yum yumity yum.


I have always wondered,
What is so special about poetry?
Sure you can get away with funky grammar,
But it brings us back to why.

Why does poetry taunt me?
What makes it special?
Why am I allowed to put RanDom
Capital letters in the middle of words
Or even make up new words like xughn and plarghf?
And What does it mean to have a
Poetic licence?
I mean I didn’t even take a test
Or get a card.

And don’t get me started on the odes
I mean seriously ode this ode that.
What the heck does ode even mean?

Poetry is just writing to me,
Big diff?
Like I would actually get away with that
In an essay.