Thursday, June 27, 2019

June DMC Wrap-Up Celebration + Giveaway


poetry2capullet

"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."
                    –Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter


At the beginning of this month, Karen Boss challenged us to write a poem for kids, telling them something important for them to know.


"Your child is listening" by Wayne S. Grazio


She wanted to put good vibes for kids into the world.  

                    Did we succeed?
 
The jury's still out . . .

Henry Burrows



















but I like to think so.

United Nations Photo

















Thank you to everyone who contributed a poem or followed along, and thanks especially to Karen Boss for opening our hearts and exercising our creativity.

lonel POP

















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

Made with Padlet


Inspired to write your own second person poem giving advice to kids?

Add it to our June 2019 padlet by Sunday, June 30, 2019, and I will move your poem to the wrap-up presentation.




Participants in this month's challenge will automatically be entered to win a copy of the Charlesbridge anthology I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu. (One entry per participant, not per poem.)

Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below. Comments must be received by Tuesday, June 2nd. 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, June 5th when we reveal our next DMC challenge and debut reader spotlight!



Buffy Silverman, host of this week's Poetry Friday roundup, has taken Karen Boss's challenge in a different direction with a poem offering advice to a sandhill crane chick. Her inspiration was Hello, I'm Here by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder. (Find out how to use Hello, I'm Here in the classroom in this interview with Helen Frost.)

DMC: "Risk It" by Heidi Mordhorst




RISK IT

You want a band-aid.
What’s it for?
It won’t heal hurts.
It’s something more.

This blister on your
hand’s a scar
from conquering
the monkey bars.

Your knee is skinned,
your ankle’s bleeding--
this happens RIDING,
not while reading.

How’d you get those
itchy scratches?
Berry brambles,
firefly catches.

Elbow, hipbone
bumped and bruised
shows every part of
you got used.

Chafes and gashes,
scrapes and cuts
show you risked it,
had the guts.

You went there,
but you’re not a goner.
This band-aid is your
badge of honor.
 

© 2019 Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration tomorrow, Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Wednesday, June 26, 2019

DMC: "Race Toward Goals" by Sydney O'Neill




RACE TOWARD GOALS

Do you race toward goals with giant leaps,
bounding over small obstacles, scaling tall walls,
ignoring distractions and focusing on your destination?
Or do you prefer to race with a steady pace
of slower steps, marveling at small obstacles,
tunneling paths through tall walls for others to follow,
swerving to investigate intriguing distractions?
Maybe you do both at different times.
That's fine. As long as you keep moving,
you'll get there.

© 2019 Sydney O'Neill. All rights reserved.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Tuesday, June 25, 2019

DMC: "Calling All Kids" by Janet Clare Fagal




CALLING ALL KIDS

Inside of you:
dreams,
ideas,
potential.
Wildness, maybe.
Athletic skills,
eyes that show
your hands what to draw,
music that only you may hear.
A tender heart
full of caring.
Words that want to find
their place on a page,
feet that tap a rhythm,
a brain that seeks
to learn, to know.
Curiosity.
You, the real you.
Like the sky lit
by fireworks,
you are brilliant.
You can light up the world.

© 2019 Janet Clare Fagal. All rights reserved.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Monday, June 24, 2019

DMC: "Turn the World on Its Head: A Reverso" by Jesse Anna Bornemann




TURN THE WORLD ON ITS HEAD: A REVERSO

The world might say:

Look, inside,
I know you have ideas, observations, opinions—
Wait your turn.
There’s no reason to
Be impatient.
Grownups have it under control.
You think
You can solve big problems?
Well, guess what:
You’re only a kid.

But here’s MY view:

You’re only a kid?
Well, guess what:
You can solve big problems.
You think
Grownups have it under control?
Be impatient.
There’s no reason to
Wait your turn.
I know you have ideas, observations, opinions.
Look inside.

© 2019 Jesse Anna Bornemann. All rights reserved.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Thursday, June 20, 2019

DMC: "When You Wish upon a Star" by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes


Yuliya Libkina


WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR

Hold it loosely,
          say goodbye,
                        let it go—
(it’s fine to cry).

You might not see
that wish again.

But one day,
when a long
lost friend
blows into town
from far away,
ask her
“Would you like to stay?”

Look deeply
in her twinkling
eyes—
                see
if  you can recognize
your wish from many
moons ago,
changed somehow
yet still aglow.

Sometimes
wishes
don’t come true,
                      but others
       will come back
to you.


© 2019 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Review for The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018 is underway! Thank you to everyone who expressed interest in being on this year's ditty committee. As far as this month's challenge goes, our padlet is filling up with some terrific advice poems for children! Featured ditties this week included ones by George Heidenrich, Michelle Kogan, Robyn Campbell, and Linda Baie. Also be sure to check out Carol Varsalona's poem for her granddaughter at Beyond LiteracyLink.


Join Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise for this week's Poetry Friday roundup and a "Clunker Exchange." What a great way to give old words new life!

DMC: "When You Begin" by Linda Baie




WHEN YOU BEGIN (A Skinny Poem)

You will discover pals.
Ignore
seeing
mean-spirited
glares.
Ignore
hearing
put-down
scorn.
Ignore.
Pals will discover you.


© 2019 Linda Baie. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Wednesday, June 19, 2019

DMC: "Teach Us" by Robyn Campbell




TEACH US

With one step
from darkness
into the light,
you can teach us. You
can make us see why. You
left your country
riding on your
daddy's shoulders
through gloomy days
and darker nights
to live beside us.
How long did it take?
And how did you sleep?
Was there food to eat?
When did your daddy grow too tired to carry you?
And when did your feet grow too tired to bring you
through?
You can help us see
Teach us.

We want to learn.

© 2019 Robyn Campbell. All rights reserved.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Tuesday, June 18, 2019

DMC: "A Kid Forever More" by Michelle Kogan




A KID FOREVER MORE

Be a kid
right now,
this minute–
Nuh-uh you say,
you wanna be
like everyone else,
all grown up.
But now’s the time
to be yourself–
Silly, smart, sassy,
sashaying across a sun-warmed street…
Meek, mellow, musical,
mumbling melodramatic moments…
Seize the opportunity,
follow your passion,
indulge in your daydreams…
Time flies by, and before you know it–
Even grownups wish they could
be a kid
forever
more.

© 2019 Michelle Kogan. All rights reserved.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Monday, June 17, 2019

DMC: "Father's Day" by George Heidenrich




FATHER'S DAY

You're little now, but when you grow
what direction will you go?

A fireman, maybe, or a nurse?
Someone who studies the universe?
A dancer, a poet, a Mom or Dad?
You'll always make your Daddy glad.

So love your life, your dreams, your play time,
and don't forget to hug me anytime.

© 2019 George Heidenrich. All rights reserved.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Thursday, June 13, 2019

Planning Ahead, Moving Forward, and Celebrating Dads


"Father and Son" by Tuan Hoang Nguyen

Hello Friends—

If you've been hanging around Today's Little Ditty for any length of time, you probably know that I struggle, more or less constantly, to find balance in my life. There's so much I want to do and never enough time for it all!

Organizer Me would be perfectly content planning blog content a year in advance, Family Me wants to be on top of everything and everyone when it comes to taking care of my home and loved ones, while Poet Me wants to be fully present in the moment—giving myself the space to breathe, notice, discover, and play. There are a few others "Me"s I could mention, but I won't bother. Let's just say they resemble toads and I've written about them before (HERE).

As much as I try (and I DO try), I can't seem to satisfy one Me without disappointing others, and unlike the well-balanced duo at the top of this post, patience is not my forte. So I guess I'll have to keep up the juggling act. If I'm going to take on something new, something else has got to give.

Oh, I can hear some of you already—Today's Little Ditty is going on hiatus AGAIN???

NO!  
(Ha! Gotcha!)


The Best of Today's Little Ditty (2017-2018)

One of the things that I've been reluctant to take on is a third volume of the TLD anthology.

Volumes 1 and 2 with beautiful covers by Michelle Kogan and Teresa Robeson.

Not because I don't want to, but because creating these anthologies requires an inordinate amount of work with little, if any, financial benefit. But the thing is, I've never done these books to make money. I do them because they make me proud. YOU make me proud with the way you come back every month with new poems, many of which knock my socks off.

But guess what—I think I've finally figured out a way to manage it! Starting next month, instead of hosting author/editor interviews, I will be sharing READER spotlights—focusing my bright shiny light on . . .


 YOU!

As I first explained back in November, these interviews will be will be less content-heavy than my author/editor spotlights and they will be pretty much self-contained. There will still be ditty challenges each month, but the padlet will be embedded in the blog post itself. I will not be featuring wrap-up celebrations, book giveaways, or daily ditties (though I may still feature a poem, or two or three, each Friday).

I already have a few of these interviews in hand and, let me tell you, the DMC challenges are terrific! My hope is that while we can continue to have fun writing poetry together, we will also have a grand old time getting to know one another. What's more, this should free up enough of my time to work on the next anthology. WIN-WIN-WIN!

I'll return to hosting author and editor interviews once my workload lightens, but even then, the reader spotlights won't be going away completely. They will be ongoing, interspersed with the more formal spotlights.  

Are you interested in being featured in a reader spotlight? If so, I invite you to complete this form

And one more invitation for you:

Would you like to be on my ditty committee?

What's a "ditty committee"?

"Ditty committee" is what I call the group of ten individuals who will help me decide which poems from our roster of challenges should appear in our next TLD anthology. (Actually, to be honest, the committee does most of the deciding. I try to keep out of it as much as possible.)

Volume 3 will include the following 12 challenges:

  • Personified feeling poems (Jeannine Atkins)
  • Ode poems (Helen Frost)
  • Comparison poems (Melissa Manlove)
  • Abecedarian poems (Carole Boston Weatherford)
  • Spooky poems (Carrie Clickard)
  • Poems that find beauty (Carol Hinz)
  • Epitaph poems (J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen)
  • Golden Shovels (Nikki Grimes)
  • Dinosaur poems (Deborah Bruss and Matt Forrest Esenwine)
  • Window poems (Julie Fogliano)
  • Poems with questions (Naomi Shihab Nye)
  • Anthropomorphic poems (Calef Brown)

Are decisions made as a group?

Yes and no. Although committee members share a common set of criteria and guidelines, each person on the committee will be assigned six challenges to review. Poems are reviewed individually, not as a group discussion. I am the only one who sees all of the recommendations, consolidates them, and makes final decisions on which poems should appear based on overall results.

What kind of time commitment are we talking about?

The review process takes place from mid-June through mid-July. Within that time frame, committee members can review challenges at their own pace. Any committee members who complete their assigned challenges and are keen to do more are encouraged to do so!

Interested?

Please contact me via email at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com.


Now how about some poetry? 

Today I'm sharing three poems that feature dads.

simpleinsomnia












Father's Day is Sunday, of course, and this year I have not planned ahead. I'm delighted that my parents will be arriving tomorrow (it's their 58th wedding anniversary on Monday as well),  but since the visit was a last minute decision, I'm not exactly prepared. I don't have gifts for either occasion! Do you have a favorite poem to suggest? I'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments.

Although these three poems about fathers are favorites of mine, and each reflects a certain aspect of my dad, none of them accurately portrays our father-daughter relationship. I should probably write my own poem for that, but, well, juggling. Maybe next year.


Advice
          by Dan Gerber

You know how, after it rains,
my father told me one August afternoon
when I struggled with something
hurtful my best friend had said,
how worms come out and
crawl all over the sidewalk
and it stays a big mess
a long time after it’s over
if you step on them?

                              Read the rest HERE.


Recalculating
          by C. Wade Bentley

So Google Maps has me somewhere west of Evanston,
Wyoming, telling me that to get to the gas station where
my daughter and her broken-down Subaru are waiting
for me, I need to go straight for two miles through a quarter-
mile dead-end trailer park. This is the young woman
with whom, some Sunday mornings, I have coffee
and a game of chess as an excuse to get caught up
on her life and the status of her sobriety. It’s not much
of a game. I’m a reactive and distracted player and more
interested in the new medicine she has found in an online
Russian pharmacy than the fact that her horsey has me
in a rook-king fork because I failed to castle while the castling
was good.

                              Read the rest HERE.


Seeing and Believing
          by Edwin Romond

The girls giggled
but the boys laughed right out loud
when Mrs. Stone raged crimson
holding my eighth grade project:
"The Map of New Jersey."
"Get up here, boy!"
and I had no choice
but to walk the gangplank to her desk
where my map choked in her fist.

                              Read the rest HERE.


Mirza Asad Baig

Happy Father's Day!



Karen Boss has challenged us to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know. This week's daily ditties were by Margaret Simon, Kathleen Mazurowski, and Diane Mayr (plus some musical inspiration from Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens). Add yours to our June 2019 padlet by the end of this month.

Laura Shovan is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup. She's a fantastic middle grade author and poet in the Maryland schools who also has some wonderful blog posts housed here on Today's Little Ditty. Today at her blog she is sharing an imaginative, happy-making collection of poems by some talented students from Northfield Elementary.


DMC: A cherita by Diane Mayr




you are the class doodler
 

the teacher says, "get out 
your pencils, we'll need to write"
 

your brain says, "get out 
my pencil and I will draw the worlds
I do not have words for"

© 2019 Diane Mayr. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Wednesday, June 12, 2019

DMC: "Kindness" by Kathleen Mazurowski




KINDNESS

Your friendly smile,
a simple hello,
an open door,

could spread,
become infectious
even epidemic

But, maybe cure
loneliness,
anger,
fear.


Kindness is contagious.

© 2019 Kathleen Mazurowski. All rights reserved.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Tuesday, June 11, 2019

DMC: "Plant a Word Garden" by Margaret Simon




PLANT A WORD GARDEN

What is your favorite word?
Dragonfly,
Rainbow,
Watermelon?

Plant a word seed in your heart.
Water with music.
Weed out worries.
Watch your word grow.
Harvest a poem.


© 2019 Margaret Simon. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Karen Boss, Editor at Charlesbridge. Her challenge this month is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.

Post your poem on our June 2019 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, June 28th. One lucky participant will win a copy of I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Chris Hsu, available online for preorder, and coming to a bookstore near you on July 2, 2019.





Monday, June 10, 2019

Monday Musing: Singing Out



"Joy" by Martin Talbot


Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are
– Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens


Ever since I heard Karen Boss's ditty challenge to write a poem to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know, I can't get this song out of my head! Two videos for your amusement—I couldn't choose because I love them both!

The classic:



Or this one, with scenes from Harold and Maude:



Did you know Yusuf/Cat Stevens is back in the business of making music? Visit his website or follow him on Facebook.


Read last Friday's interview with Karen Boss HERE and leave your advice poem on our June 2019 padlet.




Thursday, June 6, 2019

Spotlight on Karen Boss + DMC Challenge


KAREN BOSS

Karen Boss is an editor at Charlesbridge where she works on fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle-grade nonfiction, and novels. She holds an MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and regularly acts as a mentor for their Writing for Children MFA program. She often teaches workshops and short-term courses about picture books. Karen also has an MA in higher education administration and worked at colleges and in the nonprofit sector for 15 years. In her free time, Karen saves her pennies so she can travel to a new country each year, and she often plans “Auntie Karen adventures” for her four nieces (Sonia, 11; Sage, 8; Olive, 4; and Morgan, 18 mos).

Here is a small sampling of poetry books published by Charlesbridge over the last few years—

Browse their full selection of titles at the Charlesbridge website.

plus two more that were edited by Karen and featured at Today's Little Ditty:




Although David Harrison, J. Patrick Lewis, and Jane Yolen are well-established children's poets, one way that Charlesbridge stands apart from many other children's publishers is because of their dedication to also seek out new voices, new visions, and new directions in children’s literature. According to the 2016 Children's Writer's and Illlustrator's Market, 10-20% of Charlesbridge titles are by first-time authors, most of them unagented. In a 2018 article on the Charlesbridge blog, Karen elaborates on that commitment:
We believe it’s important to find new talent with stories to share and to get those books into the market and into kids’ hands. As publishing has changed over the years, access to editors and publishers has narrowed. At the same time, the number of people who want to write for kids has grown exponentially, and new authors and illustrators have often found it challenging to break in. Over time, Charlesbridge editors have remained dedicated to helping launch author careers, and our design team often focuses on offering opportunities to illustrators new to children’s books.

I have only heard wonderful things from authors and illustrators who have worked with Charlesbridge. In my own brief dealings with Karen, I have found her to be warm, friendly, and extraordinarily efficient—traits of an ideal editor to be sure.

What first brought Karen's talents to my attention, however, was this beauty, scheduled to hit bookstore shelves next month:

Available July 2, 2019 (ISBN: 978-1580898324)
Preorder at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or via Indiebound.org.

A charming anthology of poems expertly collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and delightfully illustrated by Chris Hsu, it also happens to include my poem "Bellies, Bones, and Paws" about being a veterinarian.

Lee Bennett Hopkins introduces I Am Someone Else: Poems About Pretending with these affirming words:
There is nothing better than being yourself. You are unique and special in every way.
He then goes on to suggest that, even though you're perfect as you are, once in a while you might like to have fun imagining what it's like to be someone else. The 15 poems in this collection are divided into three sections to help guide young readers in their imaginings: "Wish! Be a Storybook Character," "Support! Be a Person Who Helps," and "Invent! Be a Person Who's a Maker." Readers are encouraged to try on what they might like to be—a dancer? a police officer? a video game designer?—as well as personas that are more fanciful, like holding court as a queen, becoming a "wild child" wizard, or discovering the deep as a mermaid explorer.

I feel so fortunate to be sharing pages in this collection with Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Janet Clare Fagal, Douglas Florian, Joan Bransfield Graham, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Michele Krueger, J. Patrick Lewis, Lois Lowry, Prince Redcloud, Heidi Bee Roemer, Darren Sardelli, Lawrence Schimel, and Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, many of whom have also been featured on TLD. (Click on the links to bring you to their interviews and poems.)


As it turns out, 2019 is a banner year for children's poetry at Charlesbridge, with three more poetry books in print or forthcoming.

Available September 17, 2019 (ISBN: 978-1580898751)
Preorder at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound.org.
Another 2019 title that Karen edited is Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections by Michelle Shaub, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña, scheduled for release this September.

The clever poems in this book tell the story of an elementary student's quest to find the perfect collection to share for classroom show-and-tell. (How is she supposed to share her collection if she doesn't actually collect anything?)

It's a great choice for teachers to read aloud. Watch the cute trailer HERE.





Charlesbridge (Feb 2019), ISBN: 978-1580897983
Find at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or via Indiebound.org.
Some of you are already familiar with Laura Purdie Salas's Snowman - Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations, illustrated by Micha Archer, and released last February.

It's an unconventional collection (edited by Alyssa Mito Pusey) that celebrates the onset of spring with "equation poems." Merging math, science, and poetry to reveal the natural world in fresh and surprising ways, this book is also a great resource for the classroom.

Find downloadable activity sheets and share student equation poems at Laura's website.


Available November 5, 2019
(ISBN: 978-1580899376)
Preorder at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound.
Finally, The Superlative A. Lincoln: Poems About Our 16th President by Eileen R. Meyer, illustrated by Dave Szalay (also edited by Alyssa Mito Pusey) is scheduled for release in November of this year.

With poems that are as informational as they are entertaining, this collection delves into the superlative nature of Honest Abe. Tallest, wisest, most studious... famous for his extremes, fun rhyming poems describe 18 of these superlative traits. Did you know, for instance, that "Honest Abe" was his least favorite nickname?

You'll find some superlative back matter as well, making this... you guessed it, another terrific choice for the classroom!







So what makes Karen Boss and Charlesbridge so successful at what they do? Let's find out. We'll start, as always, with five favorite things.


Cheeky monkey Nerak Karen Boss
Favorite childhood memory:
When we were kids, we created a whole world in the woods behind my house. We raked out “roads,” built home bases, and rode our bikes in there for hours. There were maps, battles, and secret backwards codenames. I was Nerak.

Favorite grade in school:
Seventh. Moving up to the junior high was so scary and so exciting all at once.

Favorite food:
A ribeye steak cooked medium rare. 

Favorite sound:
Any of (or preferably all of them at once) my nieces laughing.

Favorite vacation spot:
A tiny little island in Casco Bay off the coast of Portland, Maine. There are no restaurants save an ice cream shop, no stores save one tiny one for basic provisions; there’s nothing to do but watch the tide come in (and go out).


You did not start out in children’s publishing. Can you tell us more about your transition from working in colleges and the nonprofit sector to working at Charlesbridge? What was it that attracted you to editing books for children?

I never left children’s books behind. I read them and kept up with them into adulthood. I took a children’s literature class in Los Angeles twenty years ago just for fun. (Not writing books, studying them.) The older I got, the more I wanted to work with children’s books. Eventually, it felt like it was time to decide what I was going to do for the rest of my life, so I went back to Simmons. I was afraid to say out loud that I wanted to be an editor, though, because I wasn’t willing to leave Boston again after being away for ten years. But I got very lucky, and Charlesbridge was hiring. And my boss, editorial director and associate publisher Yolanda Scott, took a chance on an older assistant who was reinventing herself and hired me. And now I’ll be here forever, if I have my way.


Charlesbridge still has that small, family-run publisher feel—it accepts unsolicited manuscripts and truly values working with debut authors and illustrators—yet it’s grown significantly over the last 30 years, and especially over the last few. How has that impacted you?

For me, the smallness of Charlesbridge was a huge draw. Working collaboratively in a small team has been one of the hallmarks of my entire professional life, and I’m so glad to have been able to maintain it. Growing quickly and making more books is always a juggling act. I still assist Yolanda on her projects because we’ve not grown staff yet. But mostly, Charlesbridge’s size and status as an independent publisher means that I have a million opportunities and a lot of support behind me to take risks, make excellent books, and help new authors break into the field.


In your bio you mention that you try to visit a new country each year. Do you think your travels inform the choices you make as an editor in any way?

Karen kayaking on a fjord in Chile (2018)

My travels inform everything I do. Almost twenty years ago, I quit my job, packed a bag, and bought a one-way ticket to Beijing with the intention of traveling for a year. I traveled for six months and then ended up living in Thailand teaching scuba diving for 20 more months. That was a complete accident, and was one that has changed my life. I look at the world and at the United States differently than many other Americans I meet. My perspective on safety, poverty, language, culture, and more has been challenged and strengthened. Travel is humbling, and I believe that editors need to stay humble. We need to know how to solve problems, talk to new people, be resourceful, and think deeply, and all of those skills are ones I use as a traveler.


There aren’t a whole lot of editors in children’s publishing who are comfortable with poetry. What kind of role has poetry played in your life? Were you exposed to poetry as a child, or did you grow up to appreciate it over time?

If someone had told me five years ago that I would edit as much poetry as I have, I would’ve thought they were mistaken. I don’t know how it happened. I like poetry as much as the next person, but have never engaged with it all much as an adult. I don’t write creatively very much anymore, but I did as a kid and poetry was my first love. I can still recite the first lines of a poem I wrote when I was eleven: 
Looking out the window
I can see the light.
It’s a new day
almost, but not quite. 
(I know! It’s not good!) I love that poems can come together in a collection to tell a story (like Finding Treasure does) or illuminate a specific topic (like I Am Someone Else does). And I love the idea that kids can dip in and out of poetry collections. 


How is working on a collected anthology of poems, like I Am Someone Else, different from working on a book of poems by just one author?

Actually, not that different. Because anthologies generally have an editor or collector attached, that person (or people, in the case of another anthology I’m working on now) is the one with whom I work. And then they go back to the poets to discuss any suggested changes. So as the in-house editor, I still work with only one person.


Using your 2019 titles as examples, can you give us an idea of the qualities you look for in a project? What specifically excites you about these books?

Charlesbridge books are, we like to say, books that make you think. And all four of these fall into that category.  


I love how I Am Someone Else questions who gets to be what. A boy mermaid? Sure! A black girl pilot? Of course. Society pigeonholes kids pretty early on, and this book helps them understand that that’s not fair.

From I AM SOMEONE ELSE, collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Chris Hsu (Charlesbridge, 2019).  Click to enlarge.




















Finding Treasure explores family and friends and looks at what happens when a kid doesn’t share a passion that seemingly everyone else has.

From FINDING TREASURE by Michelle Schaub, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña (Charlesbridge, 2019).  Click to enlarge.
























Snowman - Cold = Puddle (edited by Alyssa Mito Pusey) is a brilliant comingling of poetry and math. Kids see connections that adults have often forgotten how to make, and this book invites everyone to stop for a moment and consider.

From SNOWMAN - COLD = PUDDLE by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Micha Archer (Charlesbridge, 2019).  Click to enlarge.
















And finally, The Superlative A. Lincoln (also edited by Alyssa) combines poems and significant learning about a topic—one of the best combos there is.

From THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN by Eileen R. Meyer, illustrated by Dave Szalay (Charlesbridge, 2019).  Click to enlarge.





























Whet our appetites. What can we look forward to in 2020 from Charlesbridge?

I can’t wait for Dream Big, Little Scientists to hit the shelves (Michelle Schaub/Alice Potter). This bedtime poem flows through a book filled with kids who love science. Each kid’s bedroom reflects the science they love from geology to physics to botany to anthropology. It’s a real dream. (Ha!)





And the team who created Hey Ho, to Mars We’ll Go (Susan Lendroth/Bob Kolar) is back with Here We Go Digging for Dinosaur Bones (edited by Alyssa). Rhyming text set to a well-known song’s tune is a real hit with kids.







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

Whoa. What a question. I’d tell them that there’s room for everyone, and everyone is valuable. I’d say that governments and politicians don’t know everything, and a lot of times, they mess stuff up. I’d say that love is stronger than hate. And I’d tell them that they are all magical in their own way, and they deserve everything good.


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

I like the idea of building off the question above, and I also like the idea of putting good vibes for kids into the world. So the ditty challenge is to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know.


Fantastic! 

Okay poets, you heard the nice lady. We're going to send some good vibes for kids into the world!

Now here are my two cents:

1¢: Remember that you're speaking directly to a child or children. The second person point of view means that you should use the word "you" in your poem—it's great for pulling the reader into the action. If your poem is not in second person, I will be asking you to revise it.

2¢: The risk in telling kids "something that you think is important for them to know" is that your poem could take on a didactic tone. Try not to let that happen. Offer advice if you wish, but please don't preach. We all know that kids don't take kindly to being lectured to... even in a poem. [wink]

John Morgan

I'm looking forward to reading what you've got for me this month. I expect quite a few touching poems, but see the potential for some funny ones, as well. Bring it on!

But first, please help me thank Karen Boss for visiting today—for sharing herself and her insights with all of us and for giving us a taste of these delicious poetry books from Charlesbridge!

Not only that, Karen has generously offered to send one (very real) copy of I AM SOMEONE ELSE: POEMS ABOUT PRETENDING to a DMC participant selected randomly at the end of the month! 


HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

Post your poem that speaks to a kid or kids about something you think is important for them to know on our June 2019 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—June 28th 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 DMC challenge from Elizabeth Steinglass! If you missed our highly instructive wrap-up presentation, you'll find it HERE.

Random.org has determined that the winner of a signed copy of Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer by Elizabeth Steinglass and illustrated by Edson Ikê will go to . . .

DONNA JT SMITH  
Congratulations, Donna!


This week Michelle Kogan is celebrating US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith and responding to her work with a powerful poem of her own. Join Michelle HERE for the Poetry Friday roundup.