Thursday, April 13, 2017



Tamera Will Wissinger was one of our first spotlight authors in 2014.

We featured her picture book This Old Band , and her DMC challenge was to write parody or tribute poems. (I reposted one yesterday: B.J. Lee's "The Passonate Stallion to His Mare.") In celebration of National Poetry Month and TLD's birthday, I invited Tamera to come back and answer a few questions about her latest verse novel.

HMH Books for Young Readers
March 28, 2017
ISBN: 978-0544638730
Find at, Barnes & Noble,
or via
GONE CAMPING: A Novel in Verse is a companion to her award-winning GONE FISHING (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). It's a delightful family story that picks up with Sam and Lucy, the same true-to-life siblings featured in the first book. While Gone Fishing was told largely from Sam's point of view (he didn't want his special fishing trip with his dad hijacked by his little sister), it's nice that Lucy shares equal billing in Gone Camping. Both kids are excited about the family camping trip, until Dad wakes up with a miserable cold! It's decided that he and Mom will stay home, while Sam and Lucy go with Grandpa instead. Uh-oh. Hesitant at first, Sam and Lucy settle into a different kind family adventure from the one they expected.

Like it's predecessor, elementary-aged kids are going to love Gone Camping for its humor and familiarity, its playful storytelling, and for Matthew Cordell's exuberant, often silly, line drawings which are more than capable of garnering giggles all by themselves. The supplemental back matter that describes the poetry "provisions"—techniques and forms—used in the writing of the book is a huge plus for both teachers and aspiring poets.

Hi Tamera! Welcome back to Today's Little Ditty!
What have you been up to since you were last here in 2014?

Wow, has it really been three years? Time leaps! Ha. In 2015 I welcomed a new poem in Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. The poem I wrote is called "National Aviation Day" for the celebration of the same name on August 19: “On National Aviation Day we honor pilots, planes, and flight. We celebrate two brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright…” I was also pleased to release the paperback of Gone Fishing that year. Then in 2016 my second picture book There Was an Old Lady who Gobbled a Skink arrived and last month Gone Camping: A Novel In Verse released. In between, I’ve been writing, reading, and visiting schools and conferences.

Tell us a little about your experience of writing GONE FISHING and GONE CAMPING as verse novels. Why did you choose to tell Sam and Lucy's adventures as a series of poems?

To be honest, I never considered telling the story any other way—Gone Fishing began to appear as a series of poems and I enjoyed that process, the characters, and the story (and poetry) so much that I wanted to try again with Gone Camping.

Was there anything noteworthy about your experience of writing a sequel? Did anything catch you by surprise?

The biggest aha for me was that despite having character, setting, and plotline clarity, sequel writing is trickier than beginning from scratch. For me it was striking a balance between familiarity of characters and freshness of story.

Please share a favorite selection from GONE CAMPING and tell us why it's meaningful to you.

Oh, I love how all the poems work together to tell a story, so choosing is tough. Just for Michelle, though, and for today only, I select SONG OF THE BEANIE WEENIE BARBECUE, only because of the connection to the other Will poet, Shakespeare, and because I love how Lucy really takes center stage in this one—in both text...

Text © 2017 Tamera Will Wissinger, from GONE CAMPING: A Novel in Verse,
used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

and Matthew Cordell’s illustration.

Illustration © 2017 Matthew Cordell, from GONE CAMPING: A Novel in Verse,
used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

What's coming up next for you?

I’m working on a verse novel for a little older middle grade reader that’s set in the Midwest, and I also have a short chapter book that’s currently captured my attention.

You've certainly captured our attention with all of your terrific books, Tamera! Thanks so much for stopping by today.

If you want to write a parody poem for our Ditty Potluck, I'd love to see it!  Or, if a parody poem is not to your liking, choose from any of the other 27 DMC challenges. Post your poem on our April 2017 padlet and be sure to indicate which challenge you are responding to.  All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, April 28th. Individual poems shared this week were by George Heidenrich, Jessica Bigi, BJ Lee, and Jone Rush MacCulloch at Deo Writer.

Laura Purdie Salas was our debut spotlight author in May 2014, and last Wednesday I wrote about what she's been up to lately. Read about her new video course, Writer in Progress: 30 Days in the Life of a Children's Writer HERE.

Along with hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup, Doraine Bennett is giving away five copies of HERE WE GO, by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. (I'm honored to have my poem "Look for the Helpers" in that book!) Visit her at Dori Reads to enter the drawing.

If you're looking for other ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, Jama Rattigan is your go-to for NPM festivites at Alphabet Soup.


  1. What a wonderful interview! Gone Fishing and its sequel look utterly charming!

  2. I just read Gone Fishing this week and loved it! It is utterly charming, Jane, and I can't wait to share it with my fourth grade class. I was delighted to learn that there was a sequel and will be purchasing it asap. Song of the Beanie Weenie Barbecue is a delight on so many levels. Thanks for another wonderful interview!

  3. "Eye of onion, ketchup squirt..."
    Tamera & Michelle, this Song of the Beanie Weenie Barbecue is a boot-scooting' hoot. (Whether a child knows the Shakespeare or not!) I imagine there is tons of fun like this, overnighting outdoors with owls & ol' grandpa.

    And then another Tamara p.b. parody - but with 'skink' in the title?
    Bound to be a belly chuckle.
    I am so happy to add everything mentioned
    that I don't already own to my To Read/To Buy list.

    Glad there are a few more days to April's end to post on the padlet.
    Hope to rustle up something suitable riffing off a gem.

    Happy Weekend!

  4. Oh, what fun--a new selection for my reading pile! Thank you!

  5. Oh yes, one more that goes on the to be read list. Thanks for keeping us up to date with this one. I absolutely loved beanie weanies as a kid.

  6. I had Gone Fishing recommended for me through twitter this week. Now I'll have to look for the sequel, also. :)

  7. Thank you, Michelle and Tamera, for this terrific interview. I adored Gone Fishing, and based on "Song of the Beanie Weenie Barbecue," I know I'll love Gone Camping just as much!

  8. Great interview. Loved getting to read SONG OF THE BEANIE WEENIE BARBECUE and see Matthew Cordell's art. It's all kinds of fun. I've wanted to read GONE FISHING for a while. I've got to make sure I get it soon...and GONE CAMPING as well.

  9. Sounds like a fun camping book. I love the humor.

  10. Both of these books have made their way to almost every one of my fifth grade readers' hands this year! Love them both!!

  11. I love, love the beanie weenie poem! It brings back many fond memories of Girl Scout camping trips. I enjoyed meeting another poet and good books through the interview, too.

  12. I can't wait to read this! I love looking at old family photos of camping trips with my grandparents. My parents always took a can of beans or chili just in case the fish weren't biting!

  13. Love the beanie weenie poem, and will need to find Gone Camping. I have Gone Fishing, a recent favorite shared with my granddaughter. I'm sure it will be fun, and am glad to hear about Lucy's larger part in the story. Thanks, Michelle and Tamera.

  14. Always a pleasure to find out what my former classmate, Tamera, is up to - and she's always up to amazing writing. Thanks for sharing this interview, Michelle. =)