Thursday, November 23, 2017

November Wrap-Up + Giveaway


"Eye of the beholder" by Tim Kirman


"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not."  

             ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

At the beginning of November, Carol Hinz challenged us to write a poem that finds beauty in something not usually considered beautiful.




It's a marvelous quest, isn't it? 

Even if we carried this challenge over December and into the new year, I doubt that we would run short of poetry. So many wonderful poems graced the padlet this month! Far more than I had opportunity to feature as daily ditties. I hope you'll take your time with this collection—it may yield you some fresh perspective... and throw in a few oohs and ahhs for good measure.

Scroll through the poems below, or for best viewing, CLICK HERE.


Made with Padlet


Thank you to everyone who contributed a poem, commented, or followed along, and thanks most especially to Carol Hinz for encouraging us to take this journey to find the beautiful. 

As Emerson said, the rest is up to us. I know it's a challenge I'll carry with me.


Would you like to write a poem that finds beauty in something not usually considered beautiful?

Post it on our November 2017 padlet by 5:00 pm (EST) on Thursday, November 30th, and I will add it to the wrap-up presentation.




Participants in this month's challenge will automatically be entered to win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, with illustrations by Carol Crimmins (Millbrook Press, 2017). One entry per participant, not per poem.




Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below. Comments must also be received no later than 5:00 pm (EST) on Thursday, November 30th. If you contribute a poem and comment below, you will receive two entries in total.

The winner will be determined by Random.org and announced next Friday, December 1st.


Many thanks to everyone who came by last week to help me celebrate the launch of The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2016! I was touched by so many expressions of support and congratulations, and raised a toast to you at my Thanksgiving table.


Join Carol at Carol's Corner for this week's Poetry Friday roundup.








DMC: "Puddle Wonderful" by B.J. Lee




PUDDLE WONDERFUL

boring brown puddles,
on bring-your-umbrella days,
transform in bright sun
into billowing-cloud skyscapes
or shimmering rainbow art


© 2017 B.J. Lee. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration tomorrow, Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Wednesday, November 22, 2017

DMC: "Look What I Did" by Karen Eastlund




LOOK WHAT I DID

Scribble fits, wiggle blitz
The anguish a sigh emits
Scratch outs and smudges
The pencil point’s lame

Letters sway to and fro
Nothing stands in a row
But look at his face aglow
He just wrote his name


© 2017 Karen Eastlund. All rights reserved.


Pexels


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Tuesday, November 21, 2017

DMC: "Wrinkles" by Judith Valko




WRINKLES

Wrinkles lined upon her face
reveal the woman’s life of grace
as crow’s feet radiate from eyes
once filled with laughter
tears
and sighs
forehead laced with worry lines
troubles deep
sorrows fine
thinning lips and shriveled brow
stories told of then and now
a life of lessons gladly learned
all these wrinkles she has earned


© 2017 Judith Valko. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Monday, November 20, 2017

DMC: "Still Life with Fox" by Irene Latham




STILL LIFE WITH FOX

Bluebird dipdives
      low
to know the tickle
of tall grass —

instead learns snap!
of foxjaw.

Lone feather 
      whisperdrifts —

a fleeting skykiss.

© 2017 Irene Latham. All rights reserved.


(click on image to enlarge)























Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Friday, November 17, 2017

The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2016 (YAY!) + Five for Friday: Giving Thanks


Nick Saltmarsh

The writing's on the wall.
It looks a bit like chicken scratch, but it's there.

It says . . .

JUST BE THANKfull for WHAT YOU GOT.

I sure am!

©2017 Teresa Robeson







See? 
This is me.




And this is what I've got . . .


Happy Day! Volume 2 has arrived!

The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2016 is available 
 in paperback for $9.95 or as a Kindle ebook for $5.95.

Click HERE to purchase at Amazon.com. 


Truth be told, I'm not only thankful, I'm relieved. You may have noticed my hit-or-miss (mostly miss) Poetry Friday rounds over the last several weeks. That's because of this baby... well, plus a few college visits for my son and a series of workshops I've been involved with at the same time. (Read my poem inspired by teaching poetry to juvenile offenders here.)

But we did it! We reached the finish line! 

I say "we" because I couldn't have managed this project without the support of some incredible people. First, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Renée LaTulippe. She was invaluable throughout the process with advice, suggestions, Photoshop expertise, editing, proofreading, and reality checks when needed. Thank you, Renée!

When I asked Teresa Robeson if she'd be willing to do the cover, I knew she'd do a brilliant job. (Read my interview with Teresa here.) What I did not know at the time was that she would also provide such fun spot illustrations for inside the book! The grateful penguin at the top of this post is an example. Thank you, Teresa, for giving this book such delightful character.

Hugs of appreciation to this year's super-duper ditty committee:

          Linda Baie
          Jesse Anna Bornemann
          Matt Forrest Esenwine
          Lana Wayne Koehler
          Michelle Kogan
          Jone Rush MacCulloch
          Maria Marshall
          Diane Mayr
          Sydney O'Neill
          Margaret Simon
          Donna JT Smith
          and Tabatha Yeatts.

Because of their dedication, 350 poems were carefully reviewed and whittled down to the 75 that appear in this volume. A few excellent poems were left out for one reason or another, but I think you'll agree that the final result is impressive nonetheless.

I'd also like to give a shout-out to Jane Yolen, Linda Mitchell, and Janet Wong for their wonderful blurbs for the back cover. And last but not least, thank you to the eight incredible authors and one amazing editor who came up with such terrific challenges in 2016:

          Douglas Florian
          David L. Harrison
          Diana Murray
          Kenn Nesbitt
          Ann Rider
          Laura Shovan
          Marilyn Singer
          Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
          Jane Yolen

and to the 50 talented poets who permitted me to feature their work in this book:



Today's Little Ditty has become something so much larger than li'l ol' me. Whether or not your work is included in this volume, practicing writing together has always been, and will continue to be, a fulfilling, heart-happy part of my life. Thank you.

But you know me—I never like to celebrate alone! So let's join together for a Five for Friday party.  Now that you know what I'm thankful for, with only a week until American Thanksgiving . . .

Carla Arena

It can be something small—a sunset, the kindness of a stranger—or something larger... say, a new book! Don't think too hard, just describe one thing you're thankful for in five words (plus title if you wish) and leave it in the comments or email it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com.  I will move your 5-word ditty to the main body of the post.  Here's mine to start us off:


SECOND HELPINGS

Please pass the ditty pie!

– Michelle Heidenrich Barnes


DITTY POETS

Thank you, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.

– Kate O'Neil
Awww... thanks Kate! xo -MHB


CAR RIDE WITH TEEN

Briefly bonding; ticking time bomb.

– Rebekah Hoeft


THE INTERNET

Finding friends the world over!

– Diane Mayr


AFTER THE READING

Poets gather around good conversation.

– Sarah Grace Tuttle


POETRY!

all I want for Christmas

– Linda Baie


POET PIE

Love gathers around the table.

– Jama Rattigan


GRANDKIDS

The joy of lingering hugs

– Janie Lazo


SMILES ALL AROUND

My first school visit - Success!

– BJ Lee


SUPPORT SYSTEM

Related or chosen, always there!

– Maria Marshall


POEM ARRANGEMENT

A beautiful bouquet of words.

– Penny Parker Klostermann


SMOKEY BEAR

My kitty, purring beside me.

– Dianne Moritz


PERSEVERANCE

Thanku unwavering web of support!

– Michelle Kogan


POETRY FRIENDS

Words weave in and out

– Kay Jernigan McGriff


BUDDING SUCCESS

Two poems published this year!

– Karen Eastlund


HOLIDAY SEASON

cool weather and warm hearts

– Sydney O'Neill


FROM WILDFIRE ASHES

this Phoenix
fashioned
a home!

– Michele Krueger


PROMISE KEPT

Morning
dewdrops in the desert.

– Juanita Havill


THANKS TO MY SISTER

My plucky Lucky Chicken cup!

– Julie Larios


Poetry in all I see.

– Sally Murphy


Each sunrise is paintbox poetry.

– Brenda Davis Harsham


BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LETTERS

Alphabet's versatility =
messages for posterity

– Donna JT Smith


MY EYE SURGEON

now I see
ants
stars

– Helen Zax


MENU CHANGE

I won't miss school lunches.

– Kathryn Apel


INSPIRATION

the zest that says, Create!

– Robyn Hood Black


POETRY COMMUNITY

feeling connected despite the distance

– Bridget Magee



Although we're only midway through November, next Friday, the 24th, will be our end-of-month wrap-up celebration for Carol Hinz's DMC challenge. This week's featured poems were by Keri Collins Lewis, Cindy Breedlove, Laura Purdie Salas, and myself. Post your poem that finds beauty in something that's not usually considered beautiful on our November 2017 padlet.




Thanks to Jane Whittingham for hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Raincity Librarian.






Thursday, November 16, 2017

DMC: "Without" by Laura Purdie Salas




WITHOUT

Without plunging, a waterfall is only a river
       Praise the falling, the wailing, the water on end

Without sinking, a sunset is a background of orange
       Praise the creeping and deepness and sleeping night brings

Without freezing, summer stays long past its day
       Praise the sharpness of ice, the clean slate before spring

Without ending, the story is ever unfinished
       Praise the held breath, the fear, the delight of The End

Without dying, life is a circular road
       Praise the one-way signs so we all find our way

© 2017 Laura Purdie Salas. All rights reserved.


click to enlarge



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Wednesday, November 15, 2017

DMC: "Beauty in Disguise" by Cindy Breedlove




BEAUTY IN DISGUISE

Brown and dry,
they look like weeds.
But there is promise
in their seeds.
Wrapped up tight
to take the cold—
next year's flowers
now on hold.


© 2017 Cindy Breedlove. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Tuesday, November 14, 2017

DMC: "The Poets of Sequel Residential" by M. H. Barnes




THE POETS OF SEQUEL RESIDENTIAL

The lost boys hunker lonely
in a bunker without windows.
Some say rats or roaches
scritch-a-scratch behind those walls.
Most have never seen them
or even bothered trying—
like weapons
in a shoebox
tucked away in darkened halls.
They scritch-a-scratch
in shadows,
like whispers or a promise,
and listen for the voices
that will get them through the night.
Damaged goods in transit
with contaminated motives,
they scritch-a-scratch
to understand
and one day find the light,
to make their moms and grandmas proud,
their daddies understand,
they scritch-a-scratch
their fingers raw
and let the anger simmer.
They scritch-a-scratch
in veins of ink
that bleed onto the paper,
until, in silence,
words ignite…
and cast a golden shimmer.


© 2017 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Monday, November 13, 2017

DMC: "Sharing" by Keri Collins Lewis




SHARING

Dry summer
the cockroach sips from the puddle
in the kitchen sink. 


© 2017 Keri Collins Lewis. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Thursday, November 9, 2017

Buffy Silverman: Let Your Camera Inspire Poetry


"Camera" by Paul Hammerton


Ahhh, November!
The clenched fist of Florida heat has finally begun to loosen.

It's the perfect time to get outdoors with a notepad or camera—preferably both. Buffy Silverman is our tour guide today as we explore how photography can be used to harness the power of observation in our poetry.

Lead on, Buffy . . .


LET YOUR CAMERA INSPIRE POETRY

I have been enamored with photography since I was a teen.  I was lucky enough to attend a public school with a fine arts program that included a photography/dark room course.  In recent years I’ve revived that interest. A digital camera often accompanies me outside, whether I’m exploring new places or my own backyard. I find that photography helps me focus and notice the small details of life, and remember where I’ve been and what I’ve seen.  I’ve no doubt that a notebook or sketchpad could also accomplish this and perhaps spark observations that a camera lens might overlook. But for me photography helps me slow down and see sights that I might otherwise fail to observe. It allows me to reflect on the seasonal changes and the world that I see through my lens.

An added bonus is that I have an ever-growing file of poetry prompts! As someone who can be obsessed with the lives of insects and other backyard critters, my photographs often send me searching to learn more about the natural history of my subjects. Those details can inspire my writing as much or more than the photograph that led me on my chase.  But they can’t replace the connection that I feel after observing my subject and “capturing” it with my lens.

Consider this photograph of a spring peeper that I recently chased down in my front garden.

© Buffy Silverman (click to enlarge)

I was initially surprised to find a peeper out in late October and was mainly trying to get close enough for a good view. The photograph reminds me of that day and reveals other details that I did not notice at the time. I see the gold rim around the frog’s unblinking eye. I notice the small circular pads at the end of each toe that let it cling to almost any surface.  I see the rough texture of the frog’s skin, especially compared to the smooth, brittle oak leaf. The muted colors of the photograph speak of the growing silence of autumn to me, which contrasts with the new spring greens and loud peeps that I most often associate with this frog.

When I briefly captured the peeper I focused on the feel of its cool skin, its squirminess, and trying to take a photo with one hand.

© Buffy Silverman (click to enlarge)

But now that I look at the photograph, I consider how tiny this creature is compared to my hand.  I see the speckles of dirt on my palm and under my nail and compare them to the peeper’s unblemished skin. The rough texture of the frog’s skin is much closer to the weathered look of my skin, than of the oak leaf! The frog looks momentarily content in its hand cave, but I recall how it leaped away when I loosened my grip.

My observations and experience could lead me in many directions. I might write of this experience from the frog’s point of view, focusing on the challenges of surviving as a small creature in a world of giants. I might write a poem that links the frog’s preparations for winter with the seasonal changes happening around it. Perhaps I could imagine its winter slumber and its dreams of spring. Or I might take on the depressing question of why a spring peeper is hopping about on a day in late October that feels like the end of summer, or the mystery of why male peepers make a futile attempt at love by calling in the fall.

A photograph can lead in an unexpected direction, as happened with this photograph of a Black-eyed Susan with unopened petals in my yard this summer.

© Buffy Silverman (click to enlarge)

I loved the way the petals curl and cross, seeming to protect the center of the flower. I liked the sharp focus on the flower and the blurred green in the background. But when I looked at the photograph, my only ideas for a poem seemed trite and unoriginal. I kept it on my cluttered desktop, waiting for inspiration. When I was considering a poem for a teacher friend for the summer poetry swap, it occurred to me that this could be a metaphor for students in a classroom and that a teacher can tend her budding students like a gardener.

For me, an unexpected connection like this makes for good poetry inspiration. Help yourself to one of my photographs and look for a poem in it.

© Buffy Silverman (click to enlarge)

© Buffy Silverman (click to enlarge)

Or better still, take your camera for a walk and see where it will lead you!


Thank you for leading so many of us to inspiration, Buffy!


Check out Buffy's other contributor posts on Today's Little Ditty:


Buffy Silverman is the author of 80 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 written poems and stories for popular children's magazines, poetry anthologies, and educational resources. Visit Buffy at her website, www.BuffySilverman.com.


Our DMC challenge for November is from Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books: write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful. Click HERE to read Carol's spotlight interview, then post your poem on our November 2017 padlet. There are quite a few there already! This week's featured poems were by Robyn Campbell, Dianne Moritz, and Rebekah Hoeft.



Now follow your creative wanderings to the Poetry Friday roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup. (Did I mention she's got donuts?)

DMC: "True Whole" by Rebekah Hoeft




TRUE WHOLE

When viewed as whole,
the forest holds
a charm, a beauty undenied.
In seasons all
its splendor proved:
balletic boughs and leaves that hide
the dirty work,
the underside.
Inspection shows the grit, the grind,
the work that goes
unnoticed and
the workers that are oft-maligned.
The hyphae spread
their tendrils: webbed
destruction, ruin reaped, stage set
for comrades raid
the remnant woods.
Detritivores: they aid, abet,
they squirm, they ooze,
they crawl, they flit.
Death-eaters singly seen disgust
but duty-bound
they persevere.
With careful study, eyes adjust.
We view the woods’
true whole, not part.
The rot, the foul: ‘tis forest breath.
Diverse the work
complex the dance;
we see how life renews in death.


© 2017 Rebekah Hoeft. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.





Wednesday, November 8, 2017

DMC: "Robert's Pet" by Dianne Moritz




ROBERT'S PET

Robert brought his pet to school.
He said the pet was new.
But when he sauntered into class,
the kids and I screamed, "EW!"

A sewer rat!
Imagine that!

Fierce bond between the boy and rat,
swelled our hearts with beauty.
Everybody fell in love, and...
thought the rat a cutie!


© 2017 Dianne Moritz. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.





Tuesday, November 7, 2017

DMC: "Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder" by Robyn Campbell




BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Your eyes see me, and they detect
pain. Search deeper; you will find beauty,
splendor, love, and majesty.
I am a thorn, and I hold a thistle,
I am a thorn, and I house a rose,
I am a thorn, and I am joined with the Great Barrier Reef.
I live on crisp fresh Christmas trees and on sea urchins 

called flowers, I am anteaters and spiders.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
What do you behold?
When you look my way remember this,
there is no rose without a thorn.
Now look again, what do you see when you see me?


© 2017 Robyn Campbell. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.





Thursday, November 2, 2017

Spotlight on Carol Hinz + DMC Challenge


CAROL HINZ

Carol Hinz is Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. She began her publishing career in New York City and has been an editor at Lerner for nearly fifteen years. When she’s not obsessing over books, Carol enjoys playing with her sons (ages 7 and 4), baking, knitting, and taking ballet classes. Find her on Twitter: @CarolCHinz.

Based on our email exchanges, I've come to discover that Carol is as warm and friendly as the smile in her photograph suggests. Not only that, she's curious, she's a deep thinker, she loves a creative challenge, she cares about the state of our world, she celebrates what makes life beautiful, and she's always on the lookout for "aha" moments. Best of all, these same qualities shine through her work as a children's book editor!

You can find several books that Carol has edited right here on Today's Little Ditty

From Millbrook Press:


Laura Purdie Salas was our debut spotlight author in May 2014. At the time, she introduced us to Water Can Be.... I reviewed A Rock Can Be... in March 2015.  


Irene Latham was featured with Dear Wandering Wildebeest in September 2014. Following that book's success, we were introduced to When the Sun Shines on Antarctica in 2016.


And who can forget Jane Yolen and The Alligator's Smile, featured in September 2016?

Other recent poetry books from Millbrook Press include Brian P. Cleary's Poetry Adventures series and Betsy Franco's A Spectacular Selection of Sea Critters. Find more books Carol has edited on Pinterest.


From Carolrhoda Books: 

Some of you might remember Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole by Bob Raczka, featured in November 2014. It's one of my favorite holiday books (even if it wasn't edited by Carol) because it's so perfect for family sharing. You can read a poem each day in December, counting down to Christmas like an Advent calendar.

Feeding the Flying Fanellis by Kate Hosford is another fun poetry collection from Carolrhoda Books that came out in 2015. It wasn't featured on Today's Little Ditty, but you can find a terrific review on Jama's Alphabet Soup.


Typically when I feature an editor in November, I like to look back on what they have published during the year. But Carol has a special treat for us today. Not only will we be highlighting two books from 2017, but we'll also get an advance look at three books coming out in 2018!  Here they are, in the order they were or will be released:


If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Jaime Kim (Millbrook Press, March 1, 2017)

What would you do if you were the moon? Do you think you would rest quietly in the night sky? Oh, no. The moon does so much more than you might imagine! It spins like a twilight ballerina, plays tug-of-war with the ocean, and lights a pathway for baby sea turtles. Discover the many other roles the moon plays in this whimsical and lyrical picture book.

Recently placed on the longlist for the 2017 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books in the Children’s Science Picture Book category.

Purchase at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or from your local independent bookstore.


The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins (Millbrook Press, August 1, 2017)

A young student has to give a presentation about personification— and she's petrified! How can she explain something that gives human traits to things that aren't human? If only she could take a trip to the park and show everyone the way the fountain hiccups, the daffodils dance, and the wind whispers a tune . . . or maybe that's just what she'll have to do!

From School Library Journal:  
"This work is sure to engage primary-grade students with its simple yet instructive story line and delightful illustrations. A good choice for classroom use as well as pleasure reading."

Purchase at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or from your local independent bookstore.


Can I Touch Your Hair: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (Carolrhoda Books, January 1, 2018)

How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don't know each other . . . and they're not sure they want to.

Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.

Many of us have been eagerly anticipating this book's release! In a starred review, Kirkus calls it "a brave and touching portrayal worthy of sharing in classrooms across America."

Pre-order at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or from your local independent bookstore.


Seeing Into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright, biography and illustrations by Nina Crews (Millbrook Press, February 1, 2018)

From walking a dog to watching a sunset to finding a beetle, Richard Wright's haiku puts everyday moments into focus. Now, more than fifty years after they were written, these poems continue to reflect our everyday experiences. Paired with the photo-collage artwork of Nina Crews, Seeing into Tomorrow celebrates the lives of contemporary African American boys and offers an accessible introduction to one of the most important African American writers of the twentieth century.

Seeing Into Tomorrow has been named a Junior Library Guild selection. Visit Nina Crews's website for another peek at this gorgeous book.

Pre-order at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or from your local independent bookstore.


Meet My Family! Animal Babies and Their Families by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman (Millbrook Press, March 1, 2018)

What kind of families do animal babies have? All different kinds! Charming text and sweet illustrations introduce a wolf pup cared for by the pack, a young orangutan snuggling with its mother high in a tree, a poison dart frog tadpole riding piggyback on its dad, and more. Featuring rhyming verse and informational text, this book lets you discover just how diverse the animal kingdom really is!

Pre-order at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or from your local independent bookstore.


And now that you've met the books, it's time to meet their editor—Carol Hinz!  We'll start with five of her favorite things:

Favorite Color: blue (all shades)

Favorite Childhood Memory:
I climbed a tree in my neighbor’s backyard so I could sit up high on a branch and read. It wasn’t nearly as comfortable as I’d imagined it would be!

Favorite Subject in School:
I had trouble picking a single favorite subject; I remember being a senior in high school and feeling torn between pursuing English and pursuing science. And that’s one reason I enjoy editing nonfiction so much—I’m still learning about so many different things!

Favorite Quote: 
"It’s startling how I start to see the beauty in things that I was taught not to see beauty in."
                                 —STEiNUNN

I came across this quote as part of the Weather Diaries exhibit at the American Swedish Institute earlier in 2017.

Favorite Pastime:
I’ve been taking ballet for many years—I have a wonderful teacher and our classes have live piano accompaniment, which is fantastic.

Read "A Ballet Teacher's Advice for Authors and Illustrators" at The Lerner Blog.
And while you're there, check out some of Carol Hinz's other interesting blog posts.


As one of the largest independently owned children’s book publishers in the United States, Lerner Publishing Group includes more than twenty imprints and partners. What makes Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books unique?

Ooooh, good question! Let me take the two imprints separately. To me, Millbrook is unique because of its singular focus on curricular topics presented in a fun or unusual way for readers in grades k-5. In addition, I’d say that we have a real commitment to maximizing the visual appeal of all of our nonfiction to create an enticing and cohesive whole.

With Carolrhoda Books, I focus on the picture books—several of my very talented colleagues oversee the novels. We publish a carefully curated picture book list that sparks readers’ imaginations and offers new ways of looking at the world.


Have you always envisioned yourself with a career in children’s publishing? What is it about editing books for children that keeps you captivated?

Carol Hinz, age 13, curled up with a good book.
Not exactly. I’ve loved books since I was a child, but for a long time I thought I would be a teacher. In college I became curious about book publishing, and after graduation I completed the Radcliffe Publishing Course and moved to New York City. I was fortunate that my first job gave me the chance to work on both adult and children’s books, and I began to develop a new appreciation for children’s books. When I decided I wanted to move to Minneapolis, Lerner Publishing Group just happened to have an opening in the editorial department!

What keeps me captivated? So many things! I love that in making books, there are constant creative challenges—both with the text and the art. And as I deepen my relationships with authors over the course of several books, we’re able to get into topics and themes that we might not have tackled in our first book together. There’s so much to explore within the realm of “children’s books,” and I love the chance to take risks and take on topics that haven’t previously been covered for children.


Carol Hinz at NCTE with authors Laura Purdie Salas (L) and Irene Latham (R)

Carol Hinz with author Charles Waters


Judging by the books you’ve worked on, you seem at home with poetry, rhyme, and lyrical language. Is poetry something you were introduced to as a child?

My mother read to me from the time I was young, including nursery rhymes. My first real exposure to contemporary poetry came during my internship at Graywolf Press one summer during college. I have to say, I’m not always sure I’m entirely comfortable with poetry, but perhaps that’s why I’m so interested in it. I am always trying to figure it out, to understand what poetry can do that other forms of writing can’t do (or can’t do in the same way), and to see what’s possible within the constraints of a given format.


Would you share a poem that’s meaningful to you, either from your childhood or as an adult?

One of the most powerful poems I encountered in recent years is this haiku from Claudia Rankine’s book Citizen:
because white men can’t
police their imaginations
black men are dying
In just 11 words, Rankine made an incredibly powerful statement about what’s been happening in our country. Her whole book got me thinking about the ways in which poetry can cut to the heart of a topic and the ways in which poets offer essential insights into the past, present, and future.


Nonfiction is the bread and butter of Millbrook Press. How would you characterize the relationship between poetic language and informational subject matter?

It’s interesting because on the face of it, most people might think nonfiction wouldn’t be good fit with lyrical language. But I think poetry and lyrical language can help to take a nonfiction topic that might not be inherently interesting to certain kids (or adults) and offer them new ways to understand and appreciate it. Poetic language, particularly rhyme, can also help bring a sense of playfulness to a topic. And an author can use the structure of a poem to bring together images and ideas that might not appear together in a more straightforward prose piece on the topic.


You go to great lengths to make nonfiction approachable and engaging for children in other ways, as well. Using your 2017 and 2018 books as examples, please describe what excites you about each of them.

Thank you so much! With each of these books, I found something fresh in either the topic being explored or the presentation of information about that topic.


If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas, illus. by Jaime Kim.

This book begins with a child speaking to the moon, and the moon replies . . .

From If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas and Jaime Kim (Millbrook Press, 2017) – click to enlarge




















in the form of a list poem! I love the choice to have the moon narrate most of the book as well as the fascinating facts Laura brought into the brief sidebars on each spread. And Jaime Kim’s illustrations are gorgeous to boot.


From If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas and Jaime Kim (Millbrook Press, 2017) – click to enlarge




















The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illus. by Carol Crimmins.

I am always impressed at the way Brian Cleary can present information using rhyming verse.

From The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek by Brian P. Cleary and Carol Crimmins (Millbrook Press, 2017) – click to enlarge




















He doesn’t let the structure of the verse limit what he can do—instead he makes the structure work for him. This particular book makes personification extremely accessible to both teachers and students.


From The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek by Brian P. Cleary and Carol Crimmins (Millbrook Press, 2017) – click to enlarge




















Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illus. by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko.

How do we talk about race in America with our children? This book offers a way to begin a conversation with middle-grade kids.

From Can I Touch Your Hair by Irene Latham, Charles Waters, Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
(Carolrhoda Books, 2018) – click to enlarge




























I am so grateful to Irene and Charles for putting so much of themselves and their own childhood experiences into this book, and to Sean and Selina for creating art that shows two people who begin the book as strangers and end it as friends.


From Can I Touch Your Hair by Irene Latham, Charles Waters, Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
(Carolrhoda Books, 2018) – click to enlarge




























This book really shines when it's read aloud, and I could easily envision having pairs of students recite different pairs of poems and then write their own poems in response.


Meet My Family! Animal Babies and Their Families by Laura Purdie Salas, illus. by Stephanie Fizer Coleman.

Baby animals are incredibly appealing,

From Meet My Family! by Laura Purdie Salas and Stephanie Fizer Coleman (Millbrook Press, 2018) – click to enlarge




















but Laura didn’t simply put together a list of cute baby animals. Instead she found a way to explore the diversity of animal families around the globe while giving readers the chance to “meet” the sweet babies. 


From Meet My Family! by Laura Purdie Salas and Stephanie Fizer Coleman (Millbrook Press, 2018) – click to enlarge




















Seeing into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright, biography and illustrations by Nina Crews.

Although I’d read two novels by Richard Wright, I wasn’t aware that he’d turned to writing haiku at the end of his life. Nina Crews has gathered together twelve very accessible haiku and paired them with photo collage pieces that feature contemporary black boys doing ordinary things—from riding a bike to going fishing to flying a kite.


From Seeing into Tomorrow by Richard Wright and Nina Crews (Millbrook Press, 2018) – click to enlarge
















From Seeing into Tomorrow by Richard Wright and Nina Crews (Millbrook Press, 2018) – click to enlarge

















It’s a beautiful celebration of black boyhood that readers of all backgrounds can appreciate.


If you had all the world’s children in one room, what would you tell them?

Oh, goodness! I think I’m going to have to borrow from some very wise words that Sachiko Yasui told Caren Stelson in response to a similar question. This response comes near the end of Caren’s book Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story. Sachiko offers this advice to the world’s young people:

What is peace? What kind of person should I be? Keep pursuing the answers to these questions.


Finally, please tell us what you have chosen as this month’s ditty challenge.

Returning to my favorite quote from earlier, I would like your readers to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.



It's a beauty of a challenge, I can tell you that!

I look forward to a month filled with fresh perspective and eye-opening words. What a wonderful gift at a time when we need it most.

Before you dive in, though, please help me thank Carol Hinz for letting us get to know her better, sharing her editorial insights, and giving us a peek at these wonderful treasures from Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books!

Oh, and one more thing—

Carol has sent me a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story to pass on to one lucky DMC participant, selected randomly at the end of the month.  Beauty!


HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

Post your poem that finds beauty in something not usually considered beautiful on our November 2017 padlet. Stop by any time during the month to add your work or to check out what others are contributing.

By posting on the padlet, you are granting me permission to share your poem on Today's Little Ditty.  Some poems will be featured as daily ditties, though authors may not be given advanced notice. Subscribe to the blog if you'd like to keep tabs. You can do that in the sidebar to the right where it says "Follow TLD by Email." As always, all of the poems will be included in a wrap-up celebration on the last Friday of the month—November 24th for our current challenge.

TEACHERS, it's great when students get involved! Ditty of the Month Club challenges are wonderful opportunities to learn about working poets and authors while having fun with poetry prompts. Thank you for spreading the word! For children under 13, please read my COPPA compliance statement in the sidebar to the right.

FIRST-TIMERS (those who have never contributed to a ditty challenge before), in addition to posting your work on the padlet, please send your name and email address to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com. That way I'll be able to contact you for possible inclusion in future Best of Today's Little Ditty anthologies.

BLOGGERS, thank you for publishing your poems on your own blogs– I love that!  Please let me know about it, so I can share your post! Also remember to include your poem (or a direct link to your post) on the padlet in order to be included in the wrap-up celebration and end-of-month giveaway.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks once again to everyone who participated in last month's challenge to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child. After last Friday's post, I added three more—from Kay Jernigan McGriff, Diane Mayr, and Carol Varsalona—to the final presentation. I encourage you to have another look at this diverse collection of poems.

Random.org has determined that a personalized copy of Magic for Sale by Carrie Clickard and illustrated by John Shelley will go to. . .

LINDA BAIE 
Congratulations, Linda!


Lucky Linda also happens to be this week's Poetry Friday roundup host. Join her at TeacherDance where she's celebrating November's arrival with two seasonal cinquains.