Thursday, September 26, 2019

September DMC Wrap-Up Celebration

"This above all: to thine own self be true."   
– William Shakespeare, from Hamlet

At the beginning of this month, Jane Whittingham challenged us to use the letters in our names to write an all-about-me acrostic poem. 

It's been quite a lively meet and greet. 

"May I introduce myself?" by open-arms

I've loved getting to know many of you better through these glimpses of who you are, what you care about, and what makes you tick.

I even came across some farmyard friends who wanted to say hello...

"Hello!" by Dave Wild

"Curious minds..." by David Tomic

and otherwise get in on the action...

but unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone available to translate.

Here, in English, are the results of this month's challenge.
Scroll through the poems below or CLICK HERE to open a new tab. 

Made with Padlet

Many thanks to everyone who shared these personal little ditties, and to Jane Whittingham for such a fun back-to-school challenge!

If you're like me and haven't managed to write one yet, there's still time! Visit Jane's spotlight interview for instructions and then click on the pink dot with the plus sign to add your poem to the padlet. While there aren't many days left in September, I'll be leaving this padlet open indefinitely, so feel free to add to it at any point in the future.

Stay tuned for a new reader spotlight next Friday, October 4th.

The winner of last week's giveaway—a copy of Wild in the Streets: 20 Poems of City Animals by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Gordy Wright (Quarto Publishing, 2019) is...

Congratulations, Irene!

Join Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink for this week's Poetry Friday roundup. She's unveiling an Embraceable Summer Travels Across the World travel log, as part of her larger Embraceable Summer Gallery collection. Relive relaxing summer moments in art and poetry!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Book Love: WILD IN THE STREETS (Giveaway!)

We're celebrating a book birthday!

Congratulations to Marilyn Singer on her latest nonfiction poetry picture book, Wild in the Streets: 20 Poems of City Animals (Quarto Publishing, 2019), which has just been released into the urban wilderness TODAY!

Concrete, glass, tarmac, steel—
who'd imagine they'd appeal
to creatures that once lived
          in forests, caves, on prairies, rocks?
How did they land on city blocks,
under bridges, on rooftops
in playgrounds and drains
          (even in our houses, perhaps when it rains)?
What do they eat? Where do they sleep?
Who are these beings, beloved or reviled?
What wildlife can possibly flourish
          where life's no longer wild?
© 2019 Marilyn Singer, from WILD IN THE STREETS. All rights reserved.

This gorgeous and fascinating book tells the compelling stories of animals who have found homes in urban landscapes across the world. Some of them might be closer than you think! Humans may have built towns and cities, but we aren’t the only ones who live in them. Given the smallest chance—a park, a garden, a window box, a basement, a subway tunnel, a bridge—wildlife manages to survive in the city.

From the pythons traveling Singapore's sewers to the monkeys living in India's temples, from hyenas that roam the ancient Ethiopian walled city of Harar and river crabs who reside under ancient ruins in the center of Rome, to wild boars who wander the streets of Berlin, or, closer to home, coyotes who thrive in major cities like Chicago (and a slew of North American suburbs, including my own in Florida!), each colorfully illustrated spread of Wild in the Streets buzzes with city life and animal activity. The stories of these animals, foreign and familiar, are told through various poetry forms (described at the back of the book) and accompanied by informational text. Some poems are comical, some poignant, but all of them help the reader see the world in a different way.

Now I realize that the thought of a book about living with wild animals might give some readers pause (paws?), so as a precautionary measure, I thought I'd share . . .

5 easy ways to help make this book feel welcome 
in your neighborhood.

All words and pictures used in this post are from WILD IN THE STREETS, copyright © 2019 by Marilyn Singer and Gordy Wright. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, an imprint of The Quarto Group, Beverly, MA.
1. Pay your respects.

From Wild in the Streets, text © 2019 by Marilyn Singer, illustration © 2019 by Gordy Wright. Click image to enlarge.

2. Give flowers. 

From Wild in the Streets, text © 2019 by Marilyn Singer, illustration © 2019 by Gordy Wright. Click image to enlarge.

3. Invite it to dinner.

From Wild in the Streets, text © 2019 by Marilyn Singer, illustration © 2019 by Gordy Wright. Click image to enlarge.

4. Offer it the best seat.

From Wild in the Streets, text © 2019 by Marilyn Singer, illustration © 2019 by Gordy Wright. Click image to enlarge.

5. Sing its praises.

From Wild in the Streets, text © 2019 by Marilyn Singer, illustration © 2019 by Gordy Wright. Click image to enlarge.

And one more, if you can manage it—
throw a "welcome to the neighborhood" party!

I hope you'll make WILD IN THE STREETS feel welcome in YOUR classroom, home, or library!

Purchase a copy at, Barnes and Noble, or via 

or . . .

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Wild in the Streets: 20 Poems of City Animals courtesy of Quarto Publishing. Alternatively, you may send an email to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject "WILD giveaway." Entries must be received by Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The winner will be selected randomly and announced on Friday, September 27th.

We're still meeting and greeting over at this month's padlet! New additions include all-about-me acrostic poems by Jone Rush MacCulloch, Sherry Howard, Michelle Kogan, Angelique Pacheco, Mindy Beth Gars Dolandis, Janet Clare Fagal, Tabatha Yeatts, Carol Varsalona, Bridget Magee, and Molly Hogan. Stay tuned for next week's end-of-month wrap-up celebration!

At this week's Poetry Friday roundup, Linda Baie reveals the cover and a few thoughts about a wonderful new book coming in February from Irene Latham and Charles Waters. You'll find that and many more poetry offerings at TeacherDance.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A DMC Meet and Greet

"Shadow meets Mirror" by Markus Koller

The wise and illustrious ditty master, Dr. Seuss, once wrote, "There is no one alive who is youer than you."  So true! And thanks to Jane Whittingham's DMC challenge for September, I've been having the best time hobnobbing with the "all-about-me" acrostics that have found their way onto the padlet so far. All back-to-school open houses and PTA meet and greets should be this much fun! Wouldn't it be great to see what a classroom of students might come up with?

I've learned about your dreams—

Cheriee is an aging dreamer
Hoping for a healthy planet
Even when the news is dire, she
Resists despair, revelling in nature, but
Is afraid of spiders,
Entrancing as they may seem to
Everyone else
                    © Cheriee Weichel, 2019

and aspirations,

Lost in thoughts
Imagination whirling
Next poem, book, task
Determines the days
Accomplishments appreciated

Undecided, but always
                     © Linda Baie, 2019

your writing strategies—
Linda likes to pen poetry
Iambic and non-rhyming schemes
Noting word syllable counts
Drafts and revisions – look out!
Anyone’s fair game for her themes

                    © Linda Mitchell, 2019

Just a writer and a poet
Always  jotting notes and such.
Never tires of seeking whimsy
In kind words that move and touch.
Ever writing, ever writing, ever writing.

                    © Janie Lazo, 2019

and culinary preferences,
Joyce adores 
Olives, roti, miso soup and 
Yearns to taste
Cultural meals that don’t include
                    © Joyce Ray, 2019

Cindy eats handfuls of cherry tomatoes.
In her garden she digs up potatoes.
Never resists a good mystery book.
Doesn't ever desire to cook.
Yearns for dark chocolate to be totally calorie free.

                    © Cindy Breedlove, 2019

your inclinations toward travel—
Doing whatever I can to
Accrue more funds to
Venture forward again and again
In a quest to explore
Distant (and not so distant) lands.

                    © David McMullin, 2019

Kathleen is
A lady who likes to
Travel to different countries 
Having already been to all 50 states.
Loves reading and writing poetry,
Especially haiku,
Even if she doesn’t quite get all the 
                    © Kathleen Mazurowski, 2019

and the ways you find your bliss at home,
Can perch for hours in her backyard
Oasis―observing, listening, communing―picture taking;
Reveling in the buzziness of bees and antics of squirrels, all
Yielding as much joy as flowers of sun and glories of morning.
Can perch for hours in her backyard
Oasis, oblivious of time―totally immersed.
Re-energized. Inspired. Amused . . . by
Robins sparring for equal time at the bath. 
And bunny rabbits nibbling greens they should not.
Daily wonders, weaving joy into poems-pics-books
One-of-a-kind      spun the Cory-can way.
                    © Cory Corrado, 2019

and I can't wait to be introduced to many more of your all-about-me acrostics over the coming days! Post 'em HERE.

Laura Purdie Salas is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Writing the World for Kids. Congratulations are in order for the release of her latest nonfiction rhyming picture book—Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle! Be sure to enter her giveaway for a signed, personalized copy.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Reader Spotlight: Jane Whittingham + DMC Challenge


On her website, Jane Whittingham describes herself as "a Canadian picture book author, children’s librarian, book lover and cat lady." In Poetry Friday circles, she is fondly recognized as the "Raincity Librarian"—the title of her blog before she changed it over to "Jane Whittingham: Author and Librarian." She hasn't been making Poetry Friday rounds lately, but there's good reason for that. Fortunately for me, she helped me out with this interview before the stork arrived!

Courtesy Jane Whittingham
Jane considers herself pretty lucky to be a children's librarian—visiting and connecting with kids and families at local schools, neighborhood houses and community groups, delivering professional development events for early childhood educators, planning and facilitating fun programs kids programs like writing and book clubs and craft afternoons, and delivering baby story times. She actually gets paid to read and surround herself with amazing children's books! Besides that, she's passionate about early literacy, diverse and inclusive children's books, and travel, which allows her to explore and experience different cultures.

As far as her writing goes, Jane enjoys penning stories about imaginative beings, whether they are children or animals. She has three picture books published by Pajama Press over the last couple years: Wild One, A Good Day for Ducks, and Queenie Quail Can't Keep Up.

A few months ago she claimed her superpower was being the "queen of procrastination," but with three books and a new baby? Somehow I doubt it. When asked about a book that everyone should read, she said that she couldn't recommend just one: "as a librarian it's my job to get to know my patrons' needs and preferences, and then help them find just the right books for them to read." Okay, we'll give her a pass on the book recommendation... for now. In the meantime, I highly recommend you read this interview with Jane Whittingham!

Jane's five favorites:

Favorite color:
Blue—the color of the ocean and the wide open sky.

Favorite word:
Desafortunadamente—Spanish for "unfortunately". I remember learning this word in high school Spanish class and immediately falling in love with the way it rolls off the tongue so elegantly. Spanish is such a beautiful language!

Favorite movie:
It's so hard to choose, but I'd have to say it's a tie between Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I just love me some classic Steven Spielberg!

Favorite food:
SUSHI. There's such an incredible variety of flavors and textures, and I appreciate the emphasis on fresh, quality ingredients served with great care and deceptive simplicity.

Favorite vacation spot:
Japan—my partner and I have traveled this island nation from tip to tip on three separate occasions, and we're already planning our next visit!

Traveling in Japan, courtesy Jane Whittingham

What is poetry?
Poetry is whatever you choose to make of it.

Why do you write?
I write because I enjoy the mental stimulation, the way poetry challenges my creative brain. I don't write because I feel some innate need in my soul, I simply write because I enjoy it, because it's fun and helps me express myself and connect with others. Growing up I used to think I couldn't ever be a "real" writer because I didn't "suffer" enough—poetry always seemed to be about angst and "depth" and drug-addled English poets wasting away from consumption. I like to write silly little ditties about birds and the weather and tea, how could I ever be a poet?! But as I've grown older and hopefully a bit wiser I've come to realize that poetry, and any other kind of writing, for that matter, really is about what you make of it, and there's no such thing as a "real" writer or a "real" poet. We are all poets and storytellers!

Describe three of your writing habits.
I like to brainstorm my ideas on paper—there's something particularly inspiring I find about being able to scribble my thoughts down on paper, crossing things out, drawing arrows linking different ideas, and creating a messy but beautiful first draft.

I write when and where I want to—I don't have a writing schedule, and simply fit writing in when I can around my busy life.

I like to write with a hot cup of tea close at hand. :)

Neighborhood "goings-on" (Jane Whittingham)

When you're feeling stuck, what gets your creativity flowing?
Whenever I'm feeling burnt out, frustrated, or in a rut, I can always count on a walk in the fresh air to help clear my mind and refresh my spirit. I am most inspired by nature—walking around my neighborhood, listening and watching and observing all the goings-on around me. And walking has always been one of my favorite stress-relievers. It works just as well at breaking through a creative block as it does soothing an irritated soul.

What is the best advice you've ever gotten?
When I first started out as a librarian and was feeling nervous about delivering a program, a now-retired library supervisor of mine always used to say "did any babies die?" It might sound pretty dramatic, but what she meant of course was to step back and look at a situation from a bigger perspective. So, if I submit a poem to a journal and it gets rejected, if I read a poem to an audience and they don't get it, really, what's the worst that can happen? Nobody is going to die, so stop worrying so much and just go for it!

What is the best advice you can give?
Go for it! Honestly, I spent so much of my youth worrying about what others would think of my work, too afraid to share my writing with anyone for fear that they wouldn't like it, wouldn't "get" it, would make fun of it or think it too silly or superficial to be "real". To which I now say BAH HUMBUG. Write what makes you happy, and to heck with what other people think. That's what's so great about the internet, and about communities like this one—you can connect with so many amazing fellow creatives who are happy to welcome you into the poetry fold, whatever you choose to write about, and who will say nice things even after you've written your tenth poem about cats or tea or the rain. ;-)

Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
My most recent picture book, Queenie Quail Can't Keep Up, was released in March of this year, and I'm really proud of how beautifully the book turned out. The idea of writing about quails was inspired by my late and deeply, deeply missed father, who loved watching the little quail families that hurried and scurried through his backyard, so I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to share this story, and share a little piece of him with the world.

What have you chosen as this month's ditty challenge?

Write an all-about-me acrostic poem.

The challenge is a simple one—use the letters in your name as the starting point to create a little ditty all about you! I love doing this one at the beginning of a new series of workshops because it's a great icebreaker, allowing kids to share as much about themselves with their peers as they feel comfortable. I've also had kids express delight at the idea of writing a poem about themselves—"a poem about me?" 

Like I once did, many kids feel that poems have to be about serious things and are delighted to discover that they themselves are worth writing about, too!

As an example,

Jane is a girl who loves
Apples and sushi, but
Never, not ever
Eats gross Brussels sprouts!

Haha! What do you think, readers?

Seems to me like we've got a tasty little ditty challenge to start off the school year!

You'll find the padlet embedded below. Add your all-about-me acrostic poem at any point during the month or scroll through to check out what others are contributing.


By posting on the padlet, you are also granting me permission to feature your poem on Today's Little Ditty.  I'm not sure how often I'll be featuring poems from reader challenges, but I want to keep my options open. :)

If you have not participated in a challenge before, please send me an email at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com so that I can contact you, if necessary.

In the lower right corner of the padlet you'll see a pink dot with a plus sign. Click on it to open a text box. I find it works best to type your title on the title line and paste the rest of your poem where it says "Write something...". Single click outside the text box when finished. This board is moderated to prevent spam. Once your poem is approved, it will appear publicly.

Remember to include your name as author of any work that you post!

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.

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.

If you prefer to open this padlet in a new tab, click HERE.

Made with Padlet

Please join me in thanking Jane for being with us today! I love her effervescence, her silly sense of humor, her go-getter attitude, and especially this spot-on advice: "Write what makes you happy, and to heck with what other people think."

If you would like to be featured in a future reader spotlight, I invite you to complete this form.

You'll find last week's wrap-up celebration of poems inspired by song lyrics HERE. Feel free to continue adding to the poetry playlist it if you'd like.

Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong are welcoming the new school year with a sweet poem about gratitude, information about the upcoming IBBY conference, and this week's Poetry Friday roundup. You'll find it all at Poetry for Children.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019