soup of the day: stanza by jill esbaum!


photo source: jumping lab

Woo Hoo! It’s time to jump for joy!

Arf arf arf! Woof Woof!

There’s very good reason to rustle up all this canine commotion, because today, Jill Esbaum’s fabulous new picture book about a truly endearing poetry writing dog, Stanza, is officially out!

*Roll over* *Sit* *Stay*

Yes, I said poetry writing dog. What a great premise! Stanza’s a city dog, who usually prowls the streets “annoying and chasing and bullying others” with his two bad brothers, Dirge and Fresco. People in the neighborhood are fond of calling him “Scoundrel,” “Bonehead,” or “Slobbery lug.” But under his rough, tough exterior, lives a truly sensitive soul — who waits until after his brothers are asleep every night to pen his poetry.

He wrote of first snowfalls,
a colorful bird,
the 7th Street hydrant,
a tune that he’d heard.
He wrote tender haiku of earth, sea, and sky,
and sonnets devoted to chicken pot pie.

Now, I’d love Stanza even if he didn’t sonnetize chicken pot pie, for he loves writing poetry so much that he risks his brothers’ torturous teasing by writing in secret. One day he learns about a poetry contest: just by writing the winning jingle for Snappers doggie treats, he could win some serious cash. He fantasizes about all the things he could do with his prize money. He wouldn’t have to chase, steal, or scavenge on the streets anymore.

So — he writes and writes and writes, and finally sends off his poem. Does he win? And what happens when his brothers find out about the contest? I won’t spoil the ending for you, but let’s just say, it’s doggone delicious and totally satisfying, even though Dirge and Fresco get a hold of Stanza’s poems and rip some of them up (shudder)!

Jill’s rhyming verse is tippy top brilliant, making this a story that begs to be read aloud again and again. The characters spring to life in all their beady eyed glory thanks to Davis’ frenetic ink, watercolor and acrylic cartoony illustrations. Stanza is a character who will steal your heart; you will inevitably find yourself rooting for him throughout, and maybe even craving chicken pot pie. And did I mention the font they used for this book is called, “Chicken Soup?”

It’s a sign, I tell you, a sign — that kids will eagerly lap up this story and be inspired to write some poetry of their own. Stanza is the perfect spokesperson for National Poetry Month. He represents all those closet poets who are afraid to strut their stuff for fear of being ostracized or ridiculed. A very refreshing take on the “be true to yourself” theme, this book will make poetry très cool with young readers, and show them that yes, it takes a great deal of courage to write and share what you’ve written, and oftentimes, the “rewards” we seek for doing so come in different guises.


 Colette totally crushing on Stanza!

So, are you ready to howl your happy wishes for Jill? No need to sit up and beg. Just slurp directly from the doggie bowl today, and take as many biscuits as you like. Thanks for writing such a chewy, fun story, Jill, and Congratulations!!


Today’s Special: Poetry Potage (guaranteed to make you wax poetic).

If you write a poem today, you also get some chicken pot pie:

photo source: foodistablog

Now hightail it over to your local indie and score your copy of Stanza. Be sure to lick the sales clerk to show your appreciation.

For more about Jill’s books, visit her official website or Live Journal blog, Down a Dusty Road.

Wishin’ you could have some of those cool “I Love Poetry” stickers that Stanza is wearing, too? Go to the HMH Poetry Kit page, and download to your heart’s content. And while you’re there, check out the Stanza activity page, with full instructions on how to write your own jingle!


alphabet soup residents will be wearing their stickers all month long!

Keep on chanting: We love Stanza! We love Stanza! We love Stanza!

Edited to add: Jill’s running a special contest! Try writing your own jingle about why you’d like to win a copy of Stanza. Deadline is Sunday, April 12th. Contest is open to all ages, and 3 copies of Stanza will be awarded as prizes! More info here.

*Interior spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2009 Jill Esbaum, illustrations copyright © 2009 Jack E. Davis, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books. All rights reserved.

16 thoughts on “soup of the day: stanza by jill esbaum!

  1. Jill does great rhyme. I’m so glad you reviewed her book. It sounds great and I’m eager to check it out (not sure if I’ll lick the salesperson, though, lol)

    ~Della

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  2. I really enjoyed Jill’s rhyme, too. It’s such a satisfying, fun story. Don’t speak too soon — after you’ve read the book, you may very well feel compelled to lick the salesperson! 🙂

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  3. Thanks, Kristy. These posts are fun to do. We don’t have a dog, but will be feeding the dog biscuits to Fuzzy the Fox! (Be sure to give a few to Pepper.)

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  4. My pleasure, Jill. Can you tell how much I loved the book?! As PB writers, we’re often told to avoid rhyme, but you did such a fabulous job here. And Jack E. Davis’ illos were the PERFECT match for your story. He made Stanza so expressive. I really felt a lot of emotion coming off those pages (especially the sad/discouraged parts).
    Yep, Stanza is one of my fave PBs of the spring season!!

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  5. That looks like fun. I love your sneak peeks into the book, as always. Can’t wait to see it.

    Jules
    7-Imp

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