Poetry Friday: A Visit from St. Nicholas


I woke up this morning and realized I had lost a day and that it was Friday! Poetry Friday!

Visit all the other posts at Buffy’s Blog, she’s hosting today.

One of my favorite things to do with students is to read the various versions of this classic poem.  I love the discussions we have about the illustrations and the interpretations.  And someone ALWAYS asks “Where is Rudolph?” Which is a fun story, too.


One of my  favorite rendition’s of this poem is Rachel Isadora’s rendition of the story.

I love that it’s set in Africa and that Santa has dreadlocks.  Her artwork is stunning and so detailed. It makes for lively conversation with students.

The poem was published on December 23, 1823.

A Visit from St. Nicholas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds;

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,

Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!

Read the rest at The Poetry Foundation

Enjoy the season!

Happy Friday.  Happy Poetry.


It’s Here: 2012 CYBILS’ Poetry Finalists

Happy New Year. The best time of the year.
Thanks to
Mary Lee Hahn
Irene Latham
Carol Wilcox
Misti Tidman
Anastasia Suen
Tricia Stohr-Hunt

The panelists discussed for a long time and reached this list. There were SO many great titles this year. These are the stellar seven.The other categories can be found HERE.

UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings
by Douglas Florian

Florian is back with paintings, poetry and prose (yes, facts!) about bees. In these fourteen poems, young readers will see life from a bee’s perspective: “All day we bees/ Just buzz and buzz/ That’s what we duzz/ And duzz and duzz.” The prose facts accompanying this poem explain why bees sound like they are buzzing: A bee’s wings move so rapidly, it makes “the air around them … vibrate.”

Each page turn reveals a new facet of a bee’s life with art made from gouache, colored pencils, and collage on paper bags. We see a bee’s body up close, learn about the roles of each member of the hive, and their work: “I’m a nectar collector./ Make wax to the max.”

How bees fit into our everyday world is shown, as is the sad modern day reality of Colony Collapse Disorder. The back of the book has a “BEEbliography” of books and websites where young readers can find additional information about bees. There is so much to love in this fun and well-constructed book. Florian’s poetry is completely accessible to children, and the bits of information are equally well-written at a kid-level.

Nominated by Mary Ann Scheuer

In the Sea
By David Elliott

From the magic of starfish shining “in a sky of sand” to the wonder of orca’s “black-and-white tuxedo,” David Elliott becomes undersea explorer in In the Sea, a companion volume to On the Farm and In the Wild, with Holly Meade again stunning readers with her gorgeous woodcuts.

This collection introduces the youngest readers to the beauty and mystery of the sea. We meet familiar creatures like the dolphin, “an acrobat with fins” and perhaps less familiar ones like the chambered nautilus, “a staircase with no end.” Most poems are four lines or less; all are easily consumed and digested. In so few words Elliott provides a freshness to this subject matter with an abundance of simple but astonishing analogies. These poems provide the most basic of facts, such as how anemones “Gotta lotta zing!” and that the clownfish is “anemone’s maid.” Readers will especially appreciate Elliott’s brevity and humor. A favorite spread contains four one-word poems, which together become a larger poem complete with the most delightful rhyme.

This celebration of ocean life offers readers of all ages a safe (dry!), delightful dive into the depths of the sea.

Nominated by Kara Schaff Dean

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses
By Ron Koertge

“Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller,” Koertge tells readers in the introduction. NOT for the faint of heart or those raised on sweet happily ever after fairy tales, LIVES, KNIVES, AND GIRLS IN RED DRESSES, is a collection of 23 free verse poems that retell both familiar and more obscure tales. It is our only finalist that is specifically for YA readers.
Andrea Dezsö’s digital paper cuts are finely detailed and beautifully complement the tone of the text, though some are even more gruesome than the poems. Twisted, edgy, dark, and violent, yet cleverly told from the perspective of both central and secondary characters (Little Red Riding Hood, the Princess from the Princess and the Pea, the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, the Ugly Duckling, and others), Koertge re-imagines their stories in a most provocative manner.

Nominated by Cath in the Hat

Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs
by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen
Be forewarned: the humor in these poems is dark! The pictures are gruesome and the animals in the book meet untimely and horrible deaths…but at the same time, to the right reader (mostly boys, to be honest), this is a very funny book.

The poems are predominantly short and cleverly punny, containing a surprise factor that rewards the reader with snorts of laughter. These epitaphs were meant, as the title of the book points out, to provide one last laugh.


When le left,
he didn’t put up
a big stink.
(© Jane Yolen)


Here lies a moth
without a name,
who lived by the fire
and died by the flame.
(© J. Patrick Lewis)

Nominated by Tasha

by Laura Purdie Salas

In a world where ereaders are becoming more and more popular, BookSpeak pays homage to the physical book. Twenty-one poems explore the magic of books and everything about them cover to cover.
These well crafted poems include literary allusions such as a frightened dog hanging on to a cliff with fish infested waters below, saying ” Please, author, write/ sequel quick” or a in the poem with three voices; The Beginning and The End comfort The Middle. And have you wondered what goes on when the lights go off in a bookstore? Read “Lights Out in the Bookstore” to find out about the raucous adventures of the shelves.

Josee Bisaillon’s mixed media illustrations compliment the whimsical, wacky and just plain fun text.
The committee agreed that like the final lines of last poem
“I am not so much
The End
As I am an
Invitation back
to the beginning.”
readers will return to the beginning and read the book again and again.

Nominated by Katie Fitzgerald

National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!
By National Geographic Children’s Books

There’s a whole lot of squeaking, and soaring and roaring going on in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’s BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY: 200 poems with photographs that Squeak, Soar, and Roar. J. Patrick Lewis, America’s Children’s Poet Laureate, has collected over 200 animal poems—including classics from poets like Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Rudyard Kipling, and Alfred Lord Tennyson to more modern poets such as Kristine O’Connell George, Jack Prelutsky, Valerie Worth, and Jane Yolen.
Readers, both adults and children, will make many trips through this book, some to savor the poetry, but probably just as many to enjoy the gorgeous, full-color, National Geographic photographs adorning each page. End material includes a two-page spread about writing animal poems, and another two-page bibliography or poetry books sorted by genre. Four different indexes- title, first line, author, and subject- ensure that readers will quickly find the poems they love.

The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY is a magnet that will pull even the most reluctant reader into the world of poetry.

Nominated by: Joanna Marple

Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems
By Kate Coombs

In Water Sings Blue, poet Kate Coombs invites readers to sail away, if just for a few moments, and ponder the wonders of the ocean. From the sandy beaches and tide pools to the creatures lurking in the depths, Coombs transports readers to a watery world and displays for them the intricacy of ocean flora and fauna. The poems exhibit Coombs’ knowledge of and enthusiasm for her subject matter, as well as a mastery of wordcraft.

Many of the poems contain touches of wry humor. “Seagulls” compares gulls to beagles: “And when seagulls take wing, / they become a new thing, / attaining some dignity. / But beagles are round / and remain on the ground, / pretty much dignity-free.”

The accompanying illustrations by Meilo So perfectly highlight the mysterious beauty of the book’s subject matter. So’s delicate watercolors bring to life soaring seabirds, spiny urchins, and trailing jellyfish tentacles. As the book draws to a close, the ocean herself says a haunting goodbye which will echo in the reader’s mind long after the book is closed:
“I was here,
wasss h e r e
wasssss h e r e . . .”

Nominated by Laurie Purdie Salas