|"Cupid" by Cole Henley|
Ah, February . . .
the month of cold snow and warm hearts!
The TLD cupid (bet you didn't even know we had one on staff) has loaded up his quiver and is taking aim at book lovers everywhere.
To that end, I'm excited to introduce a new series on Today's Little Ditty inspired by our book-loving cherub. It's called The NewlyRead Game.
|The Newlywed Game, originally hosted by Bob Eubanks, |
aired, on and off, from 1966 to 2013.
|Find out all you ever wanted to know about |
The Newlywed Game at the U.S. Game Shows Wiki.
As a bonus, maybe we can have a bit of fun finding out how well our co-authors know each other after the experience of writing a book together!
So let's get started, shall we?
MEET TODAY'S CONTESTANTS . . .
|J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen|
J. Patrick Lewis is the author of more than one hundred picture/poetry books for children, including two forthcoming books in 2018—Phrases of the Moon (Creative Editions) and The Poetry of US (National Geographic). He received the NCTE Excellence in Children's Poetry Award and served as the Poetry Foundation's third Children's Poet Laureate. Read his October 2014 Spotlight on Today's Little Ditty HERE and visit him at his website: JPatrickLewis.com.
Jane Yolen is the award-winning author of over 365 books. They include poetry collections, story anthologies, picture books, board books, novels for middle grade and young adults, graphic novels, nonfiction, cookbooks, music books, adult books, and pedagogical books. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates for her body of work. Read her September 2016 Spotlight on Today's Little Ditty HERE and visit her at her website: JaneYolen.com.
MEET THEIR BOOK . . .
|LAST LAUGHS: Prehistoric Epitaphs|
J. Patrick Lewis, Jane Yolen, and Jeffrey Stewart Timmins
Charlesbridge (October 2017)
Find at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or via Indiebound.org.
Poems framed as epitaphs for extinct prehistoric animals hit the proverbial (coffin) nail on the head in this darkly humorous collection from expert poets Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis.
A companion to the team's Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs (Charlesbridge, 2012), the macabre, ironic, and witty epitaphs included in Last Laughs: Prehistoric Epitaphs share how prehistoric creatures like the terror bird, the woolly mammoth, and the T-Rex met their demise. The ever-entertaining J. Patrick Lewis and the inimitable Jane Yolen offer a collection organized by era, with posthumous poems paired with short secondary text providing additional, factual information about each creature.
Jeffrey Stewart Timmins's macabre illustrations are satisfyingly spine-tingling and wickedly humorous.
For easier reading/viewing, click on the following images to enlarge.
|Text © J. Patrick Lewis, Illustration © Jeffrey Stewart Timmins|
from LAST LAUGHS:PREHISTORIC EPITAPHS (Charlesbridge, 2017)
|Text © Jane Yolen, Illustration © Jeffrey Stewart Timmins|
from LAST LAUGHS:PREHISTORIC EPITAPHS (Charlesbridge, 2017)
The story of your collaboration . . .
Our guests answered this first round of questions together.
... getting to know your collaborative partner
When and how did you first meet, and how long was it before you decided to write a book together?
JPL: No idea when Jane and I first met but it was many years ago. Since then we have collaborated on five, or is it six, books?
JY: We met after we’d done several books together, at some conference or other, rode on a bus acting like silly best friends, giggling and plotting two more books, neither of which ever sold! But we knew about one another through the poems long before we met, admired one another’s ouvre (a show-off word meaning body of work). I loved Pat’s stuff long before he became Poet Laureate of all children, or whatever it’s called!
... say, you want to write a book together?
Who proposed collaboration and how?
JPL: Nor can I recall which one of us asked the other to the dance, though if I did the asking, I was honored when Jane said yes.
JY: Ditto. I know we aren’t being any help here, but I’m older than dirt and he’s dirt. Our memories work better forward than backwards. Besides, all writers are liars, especially poets. You’d better believe that!
... the big day—your book's publication!
How have you celebrated the occasion?
JPL: Speaking for myself, I celebrate in my own quiet way . . . with a glass of Chardonnay (or two).
JY: I do a happy dance when the package arrives, hug the book, smell it (nothing like new book smell) but don’t read it for fear of finding fault until at least six weeks later. By then I am on to a new book or a new publication date.
... your commitment to the collaborative process.
What was one of the most enjoyable aspects of your collaboration?
What about the most challenging?
JPL: The back and forth of it. Choosing the dinosaurs, deciding on the forms to use, accepting Jane’s advice on a line/word, and vice-versa.
JY: Trying to keep up with Pat’s pace was trying. Everything else a delight. The man is a monster.
What advice can you give to those with pre-collaboration jitters?
JPL: Get over yourself. Trust the process. And remember that if it isn’t fun, you should go bowling or prune your pachysandra.
JY: Or pack your prunes for a long trip to a spa. Really, if it’s brutal, the loneliness of a long-distance runner is preferable. I believe writing should be a joy. Though I do know some authors who swear they bleed on the page which to my mind is a very messy process. And to do it with someone else????? Euuuuuuew. A red tsunami. Pat and I actually laughed a lot during the writing of these books. Who laughed last—is anybody’s guess.
... what comes next?
Are there future writing collaborations in the works?
JPL: Shame on me. I was the one who turned down Jane’s offer to collaborate once again. Perhaps it was the particular project, but more likely the dread feeling of the gloaming coming on.
JY: Jewish motto: Good things don’t last. Enjoy them while you can. OK—Jewish because I am, not because it’s anyone else’s motto. Honestly, Pat and I are both so busy individually with projects that consume us, it’s amazing we managed to write two Last Laugh books, a book of twin poems, a book about Chagall’s life in rhymes, and we have been in many, many, many anthologies together. Whether we try another anthology depends on if we can find a subject matter we both want to work on. And of course there are two or three unsold ones we have hanging around (hint! hint!). Remember—we are both dynamite rewriters. No word so important it cannot be changed—another motto.
What is your definition of “happily ever after”?
JPL: Land office sales (in my dream state).
JY: The Big N in one year: Newbery, Nebula, National Book Award. I already have two Nebs (for short stories) and was a National Book Award nominee, not in the same year at all. The Newbery is still running away from me with great speed.
How well do you know your co-author?
Our guests also responded privately to questions about each other. This is the first time they are reading each other's answers—let's see how well they did!
What is Jane's favorite time of day to write?
JPL: Around the clock
JY: As long as there is light
What is Pat's favorite time of day to write?
JY: All day long
What is Jane's favorite activity to take a break from writing?
JPL: Winning awards
JY: Watching a cooking show
What is Pat's favorite activity to take a break from writing?
JY: Phoning editors
Which of you is more organized?
JPL: Jane, indubitably
Which of you is more likely to take risks?
JPL: Indubitably, Jane
Which of you is more likely to get their way?
If Jane was a dinosaur (one from your book, please), what would she be?
JPL: Saber-toothed cat
JY: One with feathers. Minimi?
If Pat was a dinosaur, what would he be?
JPL: T-Rex, of course
|Hello...? Editor? (via GIPHY)|
If Jane could time travel for a day, would she visit the past or the future?
JPL: The future
JY: The past
If Pat could time travel for a day, would he visit the past or the future?
JY: The future
JPL: The dinosaur past (with an invisibility cloak)
ROUND 3 (THE BONUS ROUND):
A few more secret questions, just for fun . . .
What trait do you most admire in Jane?
What trait do you most admire in Pat?
JY: His ability to find a perfect idea for a book of poems and then go ahead and write it. Damn the man!
What adjective would Jane use to describe you?
JPL: Irresistibly handsome, or maybe, bald.
What adjective would Pat use to describe you?
JY: Persistent. Or perhaps feral. Or perhaps anarchic in the small.
What book title best describes your relationship with Pat?
JY: The Bobbsey Twins, The House of Mirth, or Where Angles Fear to Tread.
What book title best describes your relationship with Jane?
JPL: Last Laughs
Finally, what have you chosen as this month's ditty challenge?
Write an epitaph poem, of course! — a short poem to appear on your chosen subject's tombstone. You can round out our collection of prehistoric poems or write about something entirely different, just try to make it clever or funny in some way. Here are two more examples of epitaph poems to spur your imagination.
EPITAPH FOR A SCHOOL TEACHER
Knives can harm you, heaven forbid!
Axes may disarm you, kid.
Guillotines are painful, but. . .
There’s nothing like a paper cut.
© J. Patrick Lewis, all rights reserved.
WHEN PLANETS GO NOVA
They were in a great big hurry.
Now there’s no one left to bury.
© Jane Yolen, all rights reserved.
Oh boy! This is going to be fun!
By the way, if you would like more guidance on how to write a funny epitaph poem, have a look at Kenn Nesbitt's instructions.
Now I know you're all dying to get started . . .
(oh come on, you knew that was coming!)
but before you go, please help me thank J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen for being such good sports today! I couldn't ask for two more fun-loving contestants and collaborators to introduce our NewlyRead series.
Thanks, also, to Charlesbridge for providing me with a copy of Last Laughs: Prehistoric Epitaphs, which I will send to one lucky DMC participant! (Winner to be selected randomly at the end of the month.)
HOW TO PARTICIPATE:
Post your epitaph poem on our February 2018 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—February 23rd 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.