Tuesday, July 22, 2014

DMC: "Hush, Little Martian" by Carrie Clickard




Based on the traditional lullaby, "Hush, Little Baby." 


Hush, little Martian, don't flap a wing,
Mama's gonna give you a radar ring.

And if that ring won't work in fog,
Papa's gonna buy you an android dog.

And if that android dog won't bark,
Mama's got a pass for the Milky Way park.

And if the Milky Way runs dry,
Papa's gonna build you a saucer to fly.

And if that saucer hits the sun,
Mama's gonna buy you a laser gun.

And if that laser never shoots,
Papa's gonna buy you some rocket boots.

And if those boots won't reach a star,
We'll stop by Earth and buy a car.

© 2014 Carrie L. Clickard. All rights reserved.


Tamera Will Wissinger has challenged us to come up with a parody or tribute poem this month.  (Click HERE for details.) If you would like to join in the fun, send your poem to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

All participants will be rounded up on July 25th 
and entered to win a copy of Tamera's delightful new picture book, 
THIS OLD BAND. 




Monday, July 21, 2014

DMC: "The Barefoot Girl" by Linda Baie




A tribute to "The Barefoot Boy" by John Greenleaf Whittier

The Barefoot Girl

Blessings on thee, little girl,
flip-flopped feet, with hair of curl!
With thy tee of rainbow hues,
And thy ripped up jeans so blue;
Your red lips show make-up done
I see tan shoulders, kissed by sun.
You laugh with friends all feeling tall,
Holding blissyou’re at the mall!
I remember those days well:
Carefree giggling rings a bell!
Princess crowned—the grown-up girl
Layering the future in a swirl.
Allow this moment, never hide;
Flip flops, tees, and friends abide.
Thou hast more than eyes can see
Keep it close, err loss will be.
Outward sunshine, inside, seed pearl.
Blessings on thee, little girl!

© 2014 Linda Baie. All rights reserved.


Tamera Will Wissinger has challenged us to come up with a parody or tribute poem this month.  (Click HERE for details.) If you would like to join in the fun, send your poem to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

All participants will be rounded up on July 25th 
and entered to win a copy of Tamera's delightful new picture book, 
THIS OLD BAND.




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Buffy Silverman: Giving Nature Its Say


“The time has come," the Walrus said, 
   “To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
   Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot-- 
   And whether pigs have wings.”
              – From "The Walrus and the Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll

It is, in fact, the perfect time to introduce our third TLD contributor:

BUFFY SILVERMAN

Buffy Silverman is the author of more than 60 nonfiction books for children, winning awards from Science Books and Films, the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College, and the Society of School Librarians International.  She's also had over 100 articles, stories, and poems–mostly inspired by her love of the natural world–published in popular children's magazines, poetry anthologies, and educational resources.

I prefer to think of Buffy as a rock star of nature-inspired poetry.

On Today's Little Ditty, I've posted a limerick she wrote about a poor iced-over evergreen and, more recently, a cinquain that's just ducky.  But the first time I fell in love with her writing was when she posted about a pet axolotl on her own blog.  I still vividly recall my children's expressions of wonderment when I read it aloud.

Since then, I've been in awe of how she morphs science with poetry so seamlessly, giving voice to the natural world and making it accessible to children (and adults too). This is why I asked her to be our resident science sleuth.  Well, and also because I secretly hoped that some of her powers of observation might rub off on me.

Today she describes her beginnings and her process as a nonfiction poet.  I hope you'll find it as fascinating as I do!

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Like many aspiring children’s writers, I was first drawn to writing fiction picture books when my children were young.  After all, I read picture books morning, noon, and night to my little bookworms.  Although I didn’t find success writing picture books, I always received positive feedback for the parts of my stories that focused on the natural world. 

Eventually I found my way to writing nonfiction―I had taught biology and been a naturalist for many years―and I started to get published.  But it took many more years for me to understand that nonfiction books were just as interesting and valuable to some readers as fiction stories.  That realization came only after I started doing school visits and saw students, many of whom were reluctant readers, pore over nonfiction books.  They considered me a “real” author regardless of whether I wrote fiction or nonfiction, so I decided it was time for me to do so, too.  

In the past few years I have focused on writing nature-inspired poetry--twenty-five years after my first attempts to write for children I think I have discovered my writing path.  I’m still finding my way as a children’s poet, but since Michelle has invited me to her blog, I’ll try to offer a bit of what I’ve learned and what works for me.

In my school visits I usually share an informational text, a creative nonfiction story, and a poem on the same topic.  The poem often gets the most enthusiastic response from students.  Perhaps it’s because I’m enthusiastic about the poems I share, but I think the language and humor of nonfiction poetry speaks to students.  I especially find this true when sharing a mask poem.  If a poem shows the world through an animal’s eyes, the reader feels an instant connection to the subject, and perhaps a greater one than is possible with an informational or narrative piece.  I often choose to show a life-and-death struggle because that’s what the twelve-year old inside of me wants to imagine.

Of course to write from an animal’s point-of-view requires the same careful research as writing an informational text. Before I wrote a poem about antlions, I had done a lot of research about them for an article in Cricket Magazine. I had also observed antlions building their traps near my house and dug them up and put them in pie plates to watch more closely (if I can’t observe my subject, I try to find a YouTube video to watch the action.) Here’s how I imagined an antlion telling its tale:

http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/antlions.shtml

From the Bottom of the Pit

I build my trap,
I  excavate,
I burrow down,   
then hide and wait

for earth to shake
and sand to slide;
so step upon
my one-way ride.

Don’t scramble out,
Don’t try to crawl,
I’ll flick some sand
to speed your fall.

Stop struggling now
my tasty guest
while I greet you
and digest.

  –Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

BugGuide, © 2006 Cotinis

Thank you Buffy for such a splendidly horrifying tale of nature at play!  Don't get me wrong, I love a life-or-death struggle as much as the next 12-year-old, but perhaps the truest testament of my devotion to your work is that I actually posted such a creepy... er... interesting accompanying photograph.  (Do not take that act of self-sacrifice lightly.)  Looking forward to whatever handsome creature you write about next time!

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The calendar may say there are still two weeks left in July, but next Friday, the 25th, I will be posting the end-of-month wrap-up for Tamera Will Wissinger's ditty challenge.  Will your parody or tribute poem be there?  I sure hope so!  So far I've featured poems by Kristi Veitenheimer, Gayle Krouse, James Duke, and Yours Truly.  Stay tuned for some terrific ones lined up for next week as well!

To join in the parody pandemonium, please send your poem to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.  But wait there's more! Did you know participants will all be eligible to win a copy of Tamera's delightful new picture book, THIS OLD BAND?  Get your wiggle on! 


Tabatha Yeatts and the Poetry Monster are hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup.
You can find them over at The Opposite of Indifference




DMC: "Take Me Out of Your Backpack" by M. H. Barnes




Sung to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer.

Take Me Out of Your Backpack

Take me out of your backpack.
Reach inside the black hole,
Past the detritus and paper mess–
What's inside could be anyone's guess,
But please root, root, root till you find me.
Sniff me out with your nose.
For with 1-, 2-, 3-day old chicken
That's how it goes!

© 2014 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.


Tamera Will Wissinger has challenged us to come up with a parody or tribute poem this month.  (Click HERE for details.) If you would like to join in the fun, send your poem to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

All participants will be rounded up on July 25th 
and entered to win a copy of Tamera's delightful new picture book, 
THIS OLD BAND. 




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DMC: "The Five-Lined Skink" by James A. Duke




Tabatha Yeatts sent me this little ditty by renowned botanist, Jim Duke. (Shared with permission.)

Parody on Burl Ives "Blue Tail Fly" ("Jimmy Crack Corn")

The Five-Lined Skink

I'll betcha that you'd never think
Today you'd meet the blue-tail skink
but I am tellin, I'll betcha Helen
will wink and blink and find your skink.

        Ha, ha, ha; here we be
        The blue tail skink and you and me
        I’m singing corn, but I don’t care
        The skink done gone away
    
The skink is an insectivore
Eating bugs and little more
She helps keep down our flies and fleas
Helps control a lot of these

        Ha, ha, ha; here we be
        The blue tail skink and you and me
        I’m singing corn, but I don’t care
        The skink done gone away

Blue tail skink hidin' in the rock
She don't need no lollypop
Eating bugs and fleas and flies
Quicker'n you can bat your eyes

        Ha, ha, ha; here we be
        The blue tail skink and you and me
        I’m singing corn, but I don’t care
        The skink done gone away

Do you think a skink can think?
Then think about that tail of blue!
Should our snake grab that tail of blue
The skink sheds it: "I fooled you"

        Ha, ha, ha; here we be
        The blue tail skink and you and me
        I’m singing corn, but I don’t care
        The skink done gone away

Don't think they stink, the blue-tail skink
Can catch a fly in just a wink
More than most folk really think
We'd better thank the blue tail skink

        Ha, ha, ha; here we be
        The blue tail skink and you and me
        I’m singing corn, but I don’t care
        The skink done gone away

© James "Jim" A. Duke.  All rights reserved.


Live from 1964, here's Burl Ives singing the original version:



Tamera Will Wissinger has challenged us to come up with a parody or tribute poem this month.  (Click HERE for details.) If you would like to join in the fun, send your poem to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

All participants will be rounded up on July 25th 
and entered to win a copy of Tamera's delightful new picture book, 
THIS OLD BAND. 



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DMC: "A Grand Old Frog" by Gayle C. Krause




Based on "You're a Grand Old Flag" by George M. Cohan.

A Grand Old Frog

He’s a grand old frog,


who can leap through the bog,

and forever in spring may he croak. 
An Olympian; 
Amphibian;


the best of the high-jumping folk.

Ev'ry polliwog wants to be this grand frog. 
He’s a champion, who soars through the sky,


But they don’t know that his secret is … 
He’s just catching a grand old fly.
 

© 2014 Gayle C. Krause. All rights reserved.


Tamera Will Wissinger has challenged us to come up with a parody or tribute poem this month.  (Click HERE for details.) If you would like to join in the fun, send your poem to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

All participants will be rounded up on July 25th 
and entered to win a copy of Tamera's delightful new picture book, 
THIS OLD BAND. 


 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Limerick Alley: Irene Latham




There's no doubt about it, writing can be a beast. 

Award-winning author and poet, Irene Latham, offers some advice to writers on her website:
The thing about writing is there is no end to it. No piece is ever finished. They are all works in progress. Forever.
I am continually astonished by the effort it takes to tame words.  Good writing comes off as spontaneous, yet it rarely is.  

Please help me welcome Irene to Limerick Alley today.


Irene has never been one to duck a challenge,



sit idly by,



or walk away from hard work



in favor of a soak in the pool



or an afternoon catnap.  



Oh no, not while there are poems to be written 
and stories to be told!


These animal photos were all taken on a recent critter tour up north.  From Florida, we drove up to Toronto to visit the black squirrels...


and then stopped by the Philadelphia Zoo on the way back home.


The reason I mention this is because Irene has been celebrating the paperback release of DON'T FEED THE BOY by inviting readers to visit a zoo this summer.  Take a picture of yourself at the zoo (bonus entry for you with a zoo animal) and send it to her via social media:

Twitter

Facebook author page
Instagram
Pinterest



(I took a selfie with a giraffe, but unfortunately his eyes were closed.  So I sent in one of my daughter with some flamingos instead.) 

Everyone who contributes a picture will be entered to win a classroom set (25 copies) of DON'T FEED THE BOY in paperback.  Entries must be received by July 31st; winner to be announced on August 1st.

But what does any of this have to do with limericks, you ask?  Well, I'll let Irene explain:



Why I Write Poetry

Sometimes a poem stirs mystery,

sometimes it reveals history.
I tumble in love,
it's all I think of –
even when the poem tortures me.


© 2014 Irene Latham.  All rights reserved.


One of the things I appreciate most about Irene is that she always writes (and speaks) from the heart. So why do writers write if the act of doing so might bring pain and anguish? Because we love writing, says Irene. 
Remember at its best, writing is a love affair with words. And you might be the only one who sees the beauty in your object of affection. But if you do nothing else, you must Share. That. Beauty.

Another characteristic I appreciate about Irene is that she is good for just about any challenge you throw at her. When Irene sent me her limerick, she recognized that it wasn't perfect, but she was okay with that. She thanked me for the opportunity, then added "...pretty sure I would have never written a limerick otherwise." And that, my friends, is what Today's Little Ditty and our monthly ditty challenges are all about!  
Have you seen this month's ditty challenge from Tamera Will Wissinger?

Coming September 1, 2014
And I'll tell you what is close to perfect: 

Two starred reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus for Irene's upcoming collection of children's poetry, DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST: AND OTHER POEMS FROM THE WATER HOLE!  I'm delighted to be able to feature Irene as my spotlight author for September when DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST is released by Millbrook Press.




Thank you, Irene, for visiting Limerick Alley today and sharing a bit of your writerly wisdom.  I look forward to featuring more of your beautiful personality and thought-provoking poetry at summer's end!



Linda at Write Time is taking center stage today with the Poetry Friday roundup.