Student Poetry Month 1/30

It feels kind of weird to not have a boatload of student poetry for National Poetry Month.

I have collected some student work. And to begin things off, I”m starting with my grand nephew’s Oliver’s poem. He gave me permission to share.

In a conversation with O and his mom, he let us know the following:

I’ll be posting student poetry here Monday through Friday.


Poetry Friday: Working with Third Graders On Animal Sound Poems

Welcome to Poetry Friday. Thank you goes to Rebecca at Sloth Read for hosting everyone.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to sub in Mrs. Martin’s room. I shared the “I Come From” poems in January.

I love teaching poetry when I sub. The tricky part is being able to get it down in the amount of time I’m given. Yesterday I had an hour which I could work with the class.

Georgia Heard’s book BOOM! BELLOW! BLEAT! has been a great mentor text.

We discussed some of the poems in the book. I really like “Rattlesnake Warning” and “You Can’t See Us, But You Can Hear. Us” for whole group participation. Then I shared my poem and asked what they noticed.

This lead to a discussion about

Here’s a sneak peak of the third grade poems. What I notice with third grade is their variety of animal choices: cockatiel, blue whale, chinchilla, canines, pandas, and a giraffe to name a few. We talked about being more specific that just “dog” or “bird”.

I will be publishing them during April’s National Poetry Month. And in the near future, I will have an interview with Georgia Heard.

Poetry Friday: Part Two Kinder Poems and Giveaway

Welcome to Poetry Friday. I know that Heidi has a great round up at My Juicy Little Universe.

Monday I stopped by the kinder class I worked with to get some illustrations for their poems. This class has had their share of illness and new students were gone. Therefore not all finished poems have pictures.

These poems were inspired by BOOM! BELLOW! BLEAT! by Georgia Heard.


Check out this interview with Laura Purdie Salas on her new book, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. I interviewed her on my blog yesterday. Her publisher has donated a book for a giveaway


Would you like a poetry postcard for National Poetry Month? Here’s a blog post about it HERE and you can sign up below:

In the Middle of the Night Blog Tour; An Interview with Laura Purdie Salas

Today I am happy to share a recent interview Laura Purdie Salas regarding her latest book, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. This book arrived in the world on Tuesday. I’ve had a chance to get acquainted with it and is it a gem. I think kids of all ages can relate to what happens when you are sleeping.

It reminded me of my own beliefs that the fairy tale world came alive at night when I was sleeping. I mean Hansel and Gretel’s house was right there in the hallway and I would have to pass Rapunzel’s tower to go to the bathroom.

I had some questions for Laurie about MIDDLE:

JRM: Where/how did the idea for IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT come about?

LAURA: Actually, two poems, one I wrote and one I didn’t, inspired it. First, I wrote a poem called “Lights Out at the Bookstore” for BOOKSPEAK (Clarion, 2012), about all the books having a party at night. I loved writing that poem. Then, somebody (I can’t find the poem now, and I’m so frustrated) wrote a 15 Words or Less poem on my blog about chalk coming to life at night. Those two poems wriggled around in my head, and I thought, “What about a whole collection about what inanimate things do at night!” That was back in 2012.

JRM: What kind of prep/research/play did you do before writing the poems?

LAURA: Hehe—very little prep or research. This one, unlike the science-related poetry and verse I’ve been writing, is pure imagination! I just started brainstorming objects and possible things they might do. Like:

coloring sheet/homework: folds itself to become a paper airplane or a sailboat or a hat and it’s all wrinkled in the morning

pencils: built a fort or other big building that other things can interact with. eraser/face her/race her

socks: like the square dancing one, but it needs to be first person, can still be to the rhythm of a caller

knife: diving board

bowl: swimming pool below

kids’ meal toy: comes to life as a daredevil diver, diving off the diving board and into the pool

blanket: superhero cape for…

broom: superhero, cleans up messes, rescues things, flies through house with cape around its neck

plate: surfboard in the tub? moon in the sky? it dances, spins, does anything but lie flat?

pencil sharpener: chases crayons and whittles them down and makes confetti

what jumps in the confetti?

I wrote boatloads of lists and dozens and dozens of poems. And mostly, the research was all in my head! Such a change from my usual process.

JRM: Were there challenges in writing the book? How did you work around them?

LAURA: There are always challenges! Trying to find the focus was a main one. I didn’t start out with a house focus, so I had poems about all sorts of random things. And, as always, the only way to work around them was to write draft after draft, always circling back to ask, How can I make this collection stronger? Or asking my writing group, How can I make this collection stronger? Eventually, I zeroed in on a household focus.

JRM: Were the poems written in the order they appear in the book or did you organize the arc of the book later? What was the process?

LAURA: No, not at all! My process was to spew out poems. Any poems, all poems, without judgment. Then I tried to look at the shape of all the poems together. Eventually, I organized it by room/area of the house. Later, my wonderful editor at Wordsong, Rebecca Davis, was instrumental in thinking about the book’s arc and the order the poems would appear in.

JRM: There are twenty-six poems in the book. Were there more to start? If so, how did you decide which ones to include?

LAURA: There were many more. Many. I cut a lot of them, but my critique group (shout-out to the Wordsmiths!) also helped me identify the ones that weren’t as strong. And Rebecca also had thoughts about which ones were adding enough to the book and which ones weren’t. But she also had me add some poems. For instance, I wrote the two poems from the parents’ room at Rebecca’s suggestion that we somehow include that part of the house. And for each of those two poems, I wrote four or five possible poems, then shared the top few with Rebecca to get her input. My guess is that for the 26 poems in the book, I probably wrote about 100 poems. Half of them likely never made it past first draft stage. And the other half went through various numbers of drafts until I whittled them down to just 26. Here’s just one of many that didn’t make it in:

Tooth Fairy’s Bad Night

For this

I missed

a party?

For this

I’m working


My plans

have all been


by the

apple that

you ate!

It just felt a little too snarky for the tone of the collection overall.

JRM:What surprised you the most about the book?

LAURA: Two things: One, how much more deeply I dug into the poems with Rebecca’s questions. Revision is both a terrifying and amazing process, and I learn so much each time I work with a fantastic editor! And, two, how fabulous Angela Matteson’s illustrations are. I knew I liked her art a lot from the delightful GRUMBLES FROM THE TOWN (Wordsong, 2016), a poetry collection by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Jane Yolen. But I was a little nervous because these poems are all set at night (obviously), and I was worried the book would end up being dark and muted. Nothing could be further from the truth!

JRM: You have had three books appear in the world recently. What’s next for you?

LAURA: It’s a busy year! In addition to my three poetry titles right now, I have a rhyming nonfiction book coming out this fall: SNACK, SNOOZE, SKEDADDLE: HOW ANIMALS GET READY FOR WINTER (Millbrook, 2019). Whew! I wrote all these books years apart, but various illustrators’ and publishers’ schedules just happened to all converge for 2019.

In the coming few years, I’ll have a couple of rhyming nonfiction books with Bloomsbury, more poetry and nonfiction with Wordsong/Boyds Mills, plus my first fiction picture book with Two Lions. I can’t wait to share all of these titles with readers!

Thanks, Jone, for hosting IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT on its blog tour. You have always been such a poetry advocate and done such amazing things with your students. Even after retirement, you are still sharing poetry love, and I’m grateful!

Thank you, Laura. I love the tooth fairy poem. I think older kids would get the snark.

If you would like to receive a copy of this amazing and fun book to share with kids of all ages, drop a comment. I will pick a winner next week and announce it on Poetry Friday, March 22, 2019.

What inanimate object would you choose for a poem?

Poetry Friday: Working with Kinders, Part I

Welcome to Poetry Friday. There is a celebration of women happening at Reading to the Core, it’s International Women’s Day. I have a poem at Deowriter about strong women.

Last October, at the Writing Poetry for Children Workshop, I was gifted with a galley copy of BOOM! BELLOW! BLEAT! By Georgia Heard (Its book birthday is next Tuesday).

I subbed in a kinder room on Monday and Tuesday this week. On Monday, I shared the galley with the TEN children (there was something going through the class). I gave them “homework” in that I wanted them to think of an animal to possibly write about on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, we had another day of TEN children (can you tell it was heaven? They are a busy group though and we had a bit of a cry fest after lunch). In the morning I read this book, SUPERHERO INSTRUCTION MANUAL. As I was reading, I realize that by having the class come up with superhero names (favorite color + animal) would help prime the pump for the animal sound poems they would write in the afternoon.

My mentor poem(to me, their sound reminds me of chk, chk, chk):

I shared it with the students. We noticed that I used Chk! Chk! Chk! three times for rhythm and we talked about using words starting with H. We made a chart of possible animals sounds next:

I gave the students a paper with the scaffolding and they went to work. I spent time conferencing with them. It’s so fun to see where they are with their writing and their confidence. Certainly, everyone has a poem. It was more of a challenge for some. Here’s some of their drafts.

I can tell that A. had thought about what she wanted to say. She walked into class telling me about which animal and kept asking when we would write.

L. wasn’t sure about what the sound of a red ladybug. We talked about it and she came up with “Fzzz”.

E. knew immediately he wanted a rainbow lamb. He also knew that it should say Meow-Baa and that they have have doggie ears.

K. wrote without needed me to make dots for the words. We conferred and he shared what he wrote.

E. is and ELL student. I love that she could read this to me.

I took their work and typed up the final copies. Each will have an additional sound line that didn’t fit on the page. On Monday, I’m subbing half day in the building and will meet with them to illustrate their final copy. You’ll get to see the final copies next week. At the request of the teacher, we are using initials for privacy.

So I am sad to report that student poetry postcards most likely won’t happen this year.  That said, I am creating a limited edition poetry postcard for those who are interested in receiving a poem for National Poetry Month.
If interested please sign up here:

Poetry Friday: Two Verse Novels You Should Read and Announcements

Hooray it’s Poetry Friday. I’m a bit late today. But super excited to head over to to Linda at TeacherDance. Thanks, Linda.

On February 14, 2019, the CYBILS Awards announced Jason Reynolds’ LONG WAY DOWN as the poetry winner. I had the pleasure of sitting on the Poetry Round Two, something I haven’t done in a long time. The seven finalists were spectacular and it was difficult to select the winner.

If you have read the CYBILS Poetry winner and need a new read, please consider the two other verse novels which were finalists.

by Elizabeth Acevedo
HarperTeen; 1st Edition edition
March 6, 2018

I had the pleasure to listen to the audio book.  The narrator pulled me into Xiomara’s life from the very first track.  Xiomara’s teenage life with strict parents and her coming of age made me reflect on my own teen years.  Her poetry book, her brother, and her life in the Bronx is vivid and rich. You can’t help but to fall in love with this book.  There were times when I sat in my car in the garage to hear how the chapter was going to end. Yay for poetry and the power it has on lives.

MARY’s MONSTER: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
by Lita Judge
Roaring Brook Press
January 30, 2018

I have a confession.  I think the only Frankenstein book I’ve read was one adapted for early readers.  I think this is the year to correct that after reading Mary’s Monster. Lita

Judge created an amazing Gothic story about the creator/writer of this British classic.  I was drawn into the story of Mary’s life and so unaware of her hard life. The art in the book was incredible.  The darkness of the content is sure to give teens a book that they can’t put down. I read it in one sitting, or rather staying up way beyond my bedtime to finish.

I also really enjoyed the back matter that Judge put in the end of the book.

Announcement Time

March is an exciting month with a fantastic blog tour featuring Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

Return on Thursday, March 14 for an early Poetry Friday and an interview with Laura.


3/11               Mile High Reading

3/12               Reflections on the Teche

3/13               A Year of Reading

3/14               Check It Out

3/15               Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

3/17               Great Kid Books

3/18               Simply 7 Interview

3/19               My Juicy Little Universe

3/20               Live Your Poem

3/21               Reading to the Core

3/22               KidLit Frenzy

                        Beyond LiteracyLink

And on the heels of Laura’s new book, I can announce that GAIL ALDOUS won the copy of

Gail, please email me your snail mail address book.