Poetry Friday: Remembering L.K. Madigan

Lisa Wolfson, AKA L.K. Madigan, Powell’s, October 2009

Yesterday was a snow day, a long-awaited snow day in which I would be happy that I had an unexected day off from school.   I spent much of the day reflecting on the news I received on Wednesday about Lisa.  I learned of her illness last month, read about her decision to go to hospice about two weeks ago, and yet I was hoping for a miracle: that she would beat cancer. I thought about how we first met at the 2008 Portland Kidlit Blogging Conference and connecting when the portland Kidlit community met for drinks on Fifth Fridays.  Lisa offered an autographed ARC of Flash Burnout for the first Bridget Zinn auction and more recently she offered a critique for the second Bridget Zinn auction. She was so willing to help others.

I have no words. It’s such a loss.  She will be so missed.   I remember a conversation we had about the challenges of writing and working. Her words were so encouraging.  See that smile on her in the above photo?  It was infectious and always there every time I saw her.

It was Lisa’s wish that her son go to college.  A trust has been set up for him here:

Becker Capital Management, Inc.
Attn: Sharon Gueck/John Becker
1211 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2185
Portland, OR 97204

Donors will be sent acknowledgement letters.

Should anyone have questions, please contact Sharon Gueck at sgueck@beckercap.com or John Becker at jbecker@beckercap.com.

Today I offer this benediction in remembrance of Lisa. 

Life is short
We do not have too much time
To gladden the hearts of those
Who walk with us
So be swift to love
Make haste to be kind
And may the blessings of God always be with you.

–13th Century Benediction
I am leaving for my writing retreat with my copy of Flash Burnout for inspiration .   Be kind and loving.

Poetry Friday is being held at  Read Write Believe.

Nonfiction Monday: Oprah:The Little Speaker

Do you watch Oprah?  Subscribe to her magazine O?  Have you wondered about her childhood. Thanks to Carole Boston Weatherford’s book,  Oprah: the Little Speaker readers get an inside look of Oprah as a child. 

Oprah was a child raised by her grandmother because her mother was a maid and her “daddy a soldier passing through”. Strong, loving Mama Hattie, Oprah’s  grandmother surrounded her with Bible scriptures and church. Oprah fed the animals on the farm and emptied the slop jar. At three, Oprah could read and shortly thereafter, she began public speaking in church by reciting Bible verses.  Oprah suffered bullying because of her gift.  She was called “Miss Jesus or the “Preacher”. 

Weatherford’s writes lyrical paragraphs followed by an italicized  sentence “Surely, God was smiling too,” and “learned to lean on God just like Mama did.”  Readers will gain a sense of how faith, perseverance, and love provided the platform for the adult Oprah. London Ladd’s acrylic painting reflect the somber determination of the little speaker.  It’s a great book for young readers to learn about determination and speaking up.


As the CYBILS  Nonfiction Picture Book organizer, publishers were generous with review copies.  I have a three book prize package to giveaway this week: Oprah: The Little Speaker, Paul Robeson by Eloise Green Field, and Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation by Pat Sherman.

Simply leave a comment here by Sunday February 27, 9:00 PM PST.  I will announce the winner next Monday.  I will be giving out three more books on Wednesday so watch for that.

Nonfiction Monday is being held at  Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian. Thanks for hosting.

Happy Monday. Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: Phillis Wheatley

 Two weeks ago I reviewed Phillis Sings Out Freedom: The Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley.  Today I bring you one of her poems from Poetry America.

On Imagination

by Phillis Wheatley

Thy various works, imperial queen, we see,
    How bright their forms! how deck’d with pomp by thee!
Thy wond’rous acts in beauteous order stand,
And all attest how potent is thine hand.
    From Helicon’s refulgent heights attend,
Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend:
To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,
Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.
    Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,
Till some lov’d object strikes her wand’ring eyes,
Whose silken fetters all the senses bind,
And soft captivity involves the mind.
    Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God,
We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,
And leave the rolling universe behind:
From star to star the mental optics rove,
Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,
Or with new worlds amaze th’ unbounded soul.
Read the rest HERE.
Poetry Friday is being held at Great Kids Books.  Thanks, Mary Ann.
Important Announcement:
In just 6 weeks it will be National Poetry Month.  Do you want an original poem by a student poet?  Let me know by email macrush53 at yahoo dot com.  I am creating my list to send.
Happy Friday. Happy Reading

Nonfiction Monday: CYBILS Love and Yes, It’s Tuesday

I know, I know, it’s Tuesday.  I didn’t get the NF Monday post done yesterday.  Great intentions but school got away from me.  It’s been a very difficult school year with the students. My heart goes out for them, wishing there was a way to make some of their lives more peaceful.

If you have yet to read about the CYBILS, they were announced yesterday.  You can read about them HERE.  In my category: Nonfiction Picture Book our committee rocked it with selecting The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy):

“This is a frank biographer and an honest one; she uses no sandpaper on me.”

~“Mark Twain on his daughter’s biography

Who better to write a biography of one’s life than one’s own daughter? Wouldn’t it be interesting if we had accounts of the lives of Ben Franklin or Eleanor Roosevelt or Thomas Edison written by their offspring? Sadly, we don’t, but happily we do have an account of the life of one of America’s most amazing writers, Mark Twain, penned by his daughter when she was only thirteen. Kerley, author of The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), weaves the biography Susy Clements wrote of her father Mark Twain with the tale of the writing of the biography itself, revealing, in a new way, the life of Twain. Children who were presented with this beautiful nonfiction picture book seemed to revel in the tale told from the point of view of a fellow child, “portrait of the funny, serious, absent-minded, cat-loving, billiard-playing, philosophical papa-the extraordinary Mark Twain.” The illustrations, including actual excerpts from Susy’s biography included as small mini-books inserted within the book, reflect the delightful spirit of Twain’s writings and capture the feel of the time period.

The Extraordinary Life of Mark Twain introduces young readers to this significant American writer in such a way that will spark curiosity to find out more about him. Despite Twain’s own assertion that “biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man “the biography of the man himself cannot be written….”, Kerley, using extensive documentation, timeline, and sources, has managed to create a brilliant biography of Mark Twain with literary value, artistic quality, and child appeal.

The committee agreed The Extraordinary Life of Mark Twain (According to Susy) was indeed extraordinary.

I did a blog post in OCTOBER on the book. 

I tell you selecting the winner from seven finalists is a lot like selecting your favorite child.  I mean look at these finalists:
Bones by Steven Jenkins (Scholastic Press)
Dinosaur Mountain: Digging Into the Jurassic Age by Deborah Kogan Ray(Farrar Straus Giroux)
Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Travares (Candlewick Press)
Sit In: How Four Friends Stood By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Little Brown Kids)
SkitScat Raggedy Cat by Roxane Orgill (Candlewick Press)
Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy (Simon and Shuster)
The Extraordinary Mark Twain (according to Susy) by Barbara Kerley (Scholastic Press)

Each title offers such a unique style, subject, and personality, they were deserving.  In the end, Kerley’s book offered something more.  It lingered with those who read the story.  The excerpts from Susy’s journal cleverly added as in sets was value added.  Any child who reads this book is likely to search for a subject to study for their own biography. 

Stay tuned because as I am planning to interview Barbara Kerley with in the next month.

Finally, a HUGE thank you to my second round panelists:

Carol at Rasco from RIF

Deb at Reader Buzz

Franki at A Year of Reading

Kara at  Not Just for Kids

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil

These panelists were fabulous to work with on the judging.

Happy Reading


Poetry Friday: Student Fibonacci Poems

The fifth grade is finishing their Power Point projects on Colonial America?  It’s SO difficult to get them done in less than two months (and it’s been longer with assemblies and holidays). 

Some students finished faster than others so I had them write Fibonacci poems about Colonial America as another way to present the information.  These are from Mrs. Ericson/Ms FitzSimmon’s class:

 Colonial America

And women
Cooked and cleaned
Men hunted deer and elk
Boys and girls played with toys like popguns

~ Quobe


Colonial Times (Syllables)

Worked hard
Dull green, brown
Not dress elegant
Vegetables were grown from gardens

~ Ashlyn


Selfless people
In ragged clothing
Worrying souls doomed to starve
Traveled so far and long to a home
Worked hard to get to what they have found and have now (America)



Playing games
Dull color clothing
Bad equipment to cook with
They made hand-made schools, buildings, boats, houses

~ Dorian


Large land
Small/large houses
The land is called America
They have no technology like we have today



Petti coat
Woman wore dresses
Men wore breeches and stockings
Woman sewed dull green, brown, and mottled gray

 ~ Trinity


The Vast Plains of America

We came
As Colonial Americans
Indians patrolled their dirt roads
Americans crossed eastern seas westward bound for America

~ Emma   

They are so terrific and I particularly love how Ashlyn used syllables and that Jenna included an additional line with 13 words.


1. CYBILS will be announced on Monday, February 14.   To show the love, I will be giving away books on my blog Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week.

2. In just 7 weeks it will be National Poetry Month.  Do you want an original poem by a student poet?  Let me know by email macrush53 at yahoo dot com.  I am creating my list to send.

 Poetry Friday is at Rasco from RIF. Thanks, Carol!

Happy Reading.  Happy Friday.


Nonfiction Monday: Phillis Wheatley

 Two of the CYBILS NFPB nominees were about the incredible stories of two important   figures in American history who were slaves.  I reviewed Dave the Potter earlier this year HERE.  Today here’s the other book about the amazing American poet, Phillis Wheatley.

 Phillis Sings Out Freedom: The Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley by Ann Malaspina tells a little know story about Phillis Wheatley’s involvement with the Revolutionary War. 

 Readers will learn that Phillis arrived on a slave ship in Boston where she was immediately sold into slavery years before the war. Luck was on Phillis’ side as she was purchased by the Wheatley family.  Susanna Wheatley grew to love Phillis and took here under her wing.  Phillis learned to read in English and Latin and soon began writing poetry.

 Fast forward to 1775, it’s the beginning of the Revolutionary War and Washington’s army was made of a rag-tag collection of men young and old.  He wasn’t sure how the war would turn out. 

 Phillis Wheatley fled Boston when King George III’s men marched into the town.  While appreciative of British friends who helped her become a published poet, her heart was with the colonists and freedom.  Wheatley penned a poem and sent it to George Washington.   A poem of encouragement, one in which Phillis Wheatley was invited to meet George Washington.

  Susan Keeter’s oil paintings compliment the text.  There is an author’s note and bibliography in the back.

 This is a book that will add to the ever-growing list of books about the American Revolution.  It’s a story not widely know and demonstrates the American spirit.

Nonfiction Monday is being held at Wild About Nature.  There’s a lot entered today.

Happy Monday.

Happy Reading


Friday Poetry: Winter Haiku by Mrs. Tewinkel’s Class

I walked by this second grade class room the other day and knew that I had to feature them this week. 
This is a second grade class. Mrs. Tewinkel, their teacher, understands the art and writing connection. 
The haikus are on a crayon/watercolor resist. 

If you click on the photo, you can read the poems better.  Here are two:

snowball fight today
snowflakes falling everywhere
I’m at the mountain

wind is very strong
birds fly south for winter
frozen ponds are cool

Dori at Dori Reads is collecting all the poetry this week. Thanks, Dori.  Can’t wait to see what others have posted.

Happy Friday.

Happy Reading.