friday feast: a three-course meal from the poetry friday anthology

We love you, Sylvia and Janet, the best poetry evangelists on the planet!

Happy Poetry Friday!

Can’t think of three other words, aside from, “Time to Eat!”, that fill me with as much joy and anticipation. 🙂

Poetry Friday has been a part of Alphabet Soup ever since I first came online in 2007. I didn’t know many other bloggers then, but I knew a good thing when I saw it: a progressive party where a mixed platter of poems, reviews, and musings were served up in friendly fashion by a group of enthusiastic word lovers. Most of them were uncommonly good looking and unfailingly generous and supportive. It’s still the best way to end a work week, take a break for a little special something, refresh, rejuvenate and connect!

A couple of months ago, I was thrilled to hear Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong were publishing The Poetry Friday Anthology (Pomelo Books, 2012), which would take this same concept into the K-5 classroom, turbo-charging it with Common Core curriculum support. As a fan of their PoetryTagTime Trio, I assumed this would also be an eAnthology. Well, it is, but it’s also a gorgeous, chunky paperback containing 218 previously unpublished poems by 75 of America’s finest contemporary children’s poets — some are Poetry Friday regulars, some have been Poetry Potluck guests, and a few others I was excited to meet on the page for the first time.

Janet and Sylvia are not only poetry evangelists, but pioneers for creating this invaluable, user friendly resource for educators, librarians and parents anxious to share poetry with children. A poem a week for each grade for the entire school year with “Take 5!” tips for reading aloud, engaging the audience, prompting discussion, connecting to language arts/poetry skills and concepts, and suggestions for extending the experience with additional poems or books. Wow!

I love the quality and variety of poems and weekly themes like school, pets, families, community, art & colors, song & dance, holidays, weather, water, and — *wait for it*FOOD! Actually, two weeks are devoted to food. YES! You should have seen me smile when I read, “Week 10: Food, Week 11: More Food!” I didn’t think it was possible to love Janet and Sylvia more than I already do, but there you have it.

So today we’re celebrating this much needed, innovative, first-of-its-kind book, the overall awesomeness of Sylvia and Janet, and Janet’s birthday on Sunday(!) with three food poems from the anthology. Put on your favorite bib so you can drool and nibble and nosh and savor these poetic bites. Big thanks to Joan Bransfield Graham, Debbie Levy and Terry Webb Harshman, who graciously gave me permission to share their scrumptious poems. They also sent recipes just for this occasion. Huzzah! 🙂  Before we dig in, let’s sing to Janet:



Now, on with the Poetry Feast!

* * *


Kindergarten, Week 10: Food

Joan’s fave: Toll House CC Cookies with nuts (Click for recipe)


What clever, hungry person
took little dabs of dough,
spooned them out on pans to bake
and lined them up — just so . . .

Then popped them in the oven
to blossom soft and gooey,
turning into tasty treats,
all fragrant, warm and chewy?

So when we list inventions,
um-m, this is one to savor —
guess it didn’t change the world
but, WOW, it gave it flavor!

~ Copyright © 2012 Joan Bransfield Graham. All rights reserved.

Joan: Part of the inspiration for [the poem] was hearing something about the accidental invention of Toll House Cookies. I just now looked up that story, which is fascinating; imagine . . . a lifetime supply of chocolate! This led me to Googling, “Who Invented Cookies?” and coming up with more amazing background on the development of cookies in general.

The California Reading Association (CRA) in 2000 published a book of recipes from authors and illustrators, A Taste of Literacy. [Here is] the recipe (from my mom), which I offered for Cherry Delight — a festive dessert for upcoming holidays.


This is a simple recipe, but it takes three days, and so you have to plan ahead. The first day you make the crust, the next day the filling, and finally add the topping the day you’re planning to serve the dessert. People usually think the crust is made of nuts.


8 ounces pretzels
3 Tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 sticks butter or margarine

Crush pretzels. (I use the steel blade on my food processor.) Mix with melted butter and sugar. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9″ x 12″ pan. Refrigerate 16 hours.


12 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 envelopes Dream Whip (prepare as on package)

Cream sugar and cheese. Fold in Dream Whip. Spread filling over crust. Refrigerate overnight.


Cover filling with two cans of pie cherries. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

Note: Since this is a three-day recipe, that gives lots of time for reading in between, doesn’t it?

* * *


Second Grade, Week 10: Food

via YU


Chatty Charlene enjoys food that crunches,
carrots and croutons and nuts were her lunches,
breadsticks and celery and radishes at night,
granola with apples and toast at first light.

But one day Charlene said, “This is too much!
“The carrots and croutons and apples and such —
“The noise of the chewing,
“is so loud in my head I can’t hear myself speak!”

And that’s why Charlene changed the food that she eats
to soft stuff like puddings and well-boiled meats.
It’s sad, since Charlene is a mushy-food-hater.
Too bad no one told her:
Chew first and chat later.

~ Copyright © 2012 Debbie Levy. All rights reserved.

Debbie: Inpiration #1: C’mon, haven’t we all been in the situation where we’re chewing and talking, chewing and listening, chewing and  — then we miss some important part of what our friend is saying because of all the CRUNCH-CRACKLE-CRUNCH-ing going on in our heads as we chomp away at our lunch?

Inspiration #2: I liked the sound of “Chatty Charlene.”

My favorite crunchy foods: This may sound unlikely, but celery is one of them. This is probably because my husband hates celery, which means I don’t usually keep it in the house, which means I don’t put it in tuna salad, where it belongs, or dip it in hummus, where it also belongs, or stuff it with peanut butter, which is another excellent pairing. So when I do get my hands on celery, I’m unusually enthusiastic about it! Another favorite crunchy food: peanuts. My father ate peanuts as a snack pretty much every evening when I was a girl. When I sat with him to watch the news or talk about the day, I naturally also ate peanuts. Dry-roasted peanuts: so good. And a third favorite crunchy food: potato chips. Surely the attraction of potato chips requires no elaboration.

I’m starting to feel sorry for the mushy-food lovers in your readership. So how about a mushy-food recipe that you can pair with crunchy food? I have a new guacamole recipe that I love. Scoop it up with crunchy tortilla chips. Or with celery!


GUACAMOLE (adapted from a recipe)

4 Haas avocados
1 large lime
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup tomato that you have seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced cilantro

Halve and peel the avocados, discarding the pit. Place the avocado in a bowl and squeeze the lime over it. Stir to coat the avocado with the lime juice. Then mash the avocado with the salt, cumin, and cayenne. Add the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro and stir so they are evenly distributed. Your guacamole is ready to eat, presumably with something crunchy.

* * *


Fourth Grade, Week 10: Food



New York bagels!
Scottish scones
Warm, Italian
cheese calzones!

Irish soda bread
with stew!
Crusty French bread!
Croissants, too!

Chinese dumplings!
Egg rolls, noodles!
English muffins!
German strudels!

Seeded, twisted,
Flat or curled —
I’ll eat my way

~ Copyright © 2012 Terry Webb Harshman. All rights reserved.

Terry: Global Gorging comes from a collection of bread poems that I have, titled Beastly Yeast.

Bread—ancient, life-sustaining—signifying home, hearth, prosperity, and all that is good. I’ve always been fascinated by both the simplicity and magic of bread—the fermenting action of the yeast, the rising of the dough, the elastic “live” feel of the dough in your hands, and that wonderful aroma when it bakes. So many varieties, shapes, and flavors. So little time to eat them all.

The Walrus thought so, too:

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need;
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed.”

~ Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

I do have a new muffin recipe that I’m happy to share with you. I edit Turtle Magazine for Preschool Kids and Humpty Dumpty Magazine (U.S. Kids Magazines), and this will be published in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Humpty Dumpty. The muffins are not overly sweet, and I sneak in some whole-wheat flour (but don’t tell anyone). They’re yummy!

Favorite foods? I love Asian food, Mexican, Italian … darn … I love most everything but hominy. (I really don’t think that’s a food.)



What You Need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or orange zest
  • 1 cup unsweetened frozen strawberries, thawed and chopped
  • Turbinado sugar

Adult: Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 12-muffin pan. (Do not use paper liners.)

What You Do:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, salt and sugar. Set the bowl aside.
  2. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, applesauce, milk, vanilla, zest, and strawberries.
  3. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir, just until ingredients are combined. (The batter should be thick and lumpy.)
  4. Use a spoon or small ladle to divide batter evenly between all 12 muffin cups.
  5. Sprinkle the tops of muffins with sugar.

Adult: Place the muffins in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool.


* * *

* burps* *licks lips* *sighs*


Was that as good for you as it was for me?

While you’re digesting all this poetic goodness, why not answer these questions from the Take 5’s for each poem just like Joan, Debbie and Terry did:

♥ What kinds of cookies are your favorites?

♥ What is your favorite crunchy food?

♥ What are some of your favorite foods (from around the world)?

Thank you for creating this amazing book, Sylvia and Janet, and for including Alphabet Soup as one of the “25 Children’s Poetry Websites and Blogs You Need to Know.” Hearty Congratulations to all the poets!

* * *

compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
published by Pomelo Books, 2012
Professional Resource Book + Delicious Poems, 288 pp.
Recommended for educators, librarians, parents, poetry lovers of all ages, soon-to-be poetry lovers
*Includes: Poetry Resources (E-Resources for Poetry Teaching, Professional Resource Books, Mini Glossary of Poetry Terms)
Editions: Common Core for K-5, Texas TEKS for K-5; Common Core for K-5 also available as separate eBooks for each grade level.

* * *


Poetry Friday Anthology blog: Want to win a free copy? Check out the Mini Grants available (deadline October 1, 2012)!

Pomelo Books website

♥ Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children

Janet Wong’s Official Website

Joan Bransfield Graham’s Official Website

Debbie Levy’s Official Website

♥ Terry Webb Harshman at U.S. Kids

* * *


Marvelous Marjorie is hosting the Roundup today at Paper Tigers. Zip on over and check out the full menu of wonderful poems and reviews being shared around the blogosphere this week. Nom nom.



*whoops with reckless abandon*

P.S. Doesn’t Janet look good for 29? 🙂

P.P.S. Special ((hugs)) to you, Sylvia. ♥


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

45 thoughts on “friday feast: a three-course meal from the poetry friday anthology

  1. WOW! Thank you so much, Jama–your post is the best birthday present EVER!! (And this weekend I’ll be 29 plus . . . 21!!)


    1. Have a fabulous birthday weekend, Janet! Remember, from next year on, you start counting down one year when your birthday rolls around.


  2. Happiest of birthdays to Janet! Love seeing all the food poems; everyone should now be ready for their weekend treats, Jama. My favorites: ginger snaps, a recipe from an old friend that I love; raw carrots, probably comes from crunching straight out of a grandmother’s garden, washing with a garden hose; and tres leches cake from Mexico-just so tasty. Thanks for sharing from the Poetry Anthology!


  3. Janet and Sylvia did an amazing job. What a resource! Thanks for the wonderful post, as ever. Loved the poems, and I’m already salivating over the prospect of blue corn tortilla chips (my favorite crunchy food) and guacamole this evening. I know you’re a teetotaler, Jama, but I’d like mine with a margarita, please.

    And happy birthday, Janet!


  4. Oh my goodness, what an amazing write up, promo, and plug! Thanks so much, Jama– and thanks to Joan, Debbie, and Terry, for sharing their super-fun food poems (a favorite topic of mine, too!). Jama, one more thanks for your kind words and wishes. So sweet!


  5. What a happy celebration! That book is fun to share. I showed it to my class last night, and one teacher said, “Oh, Janet Wong!” in all capital voice. “Yes,” I said, very all-capital reverence, too. And we didn’t even know it was her birthday coming up.

    And those Baker Bear muffins look good. Though leave it to the poets to make celery most appealing, too.


    1. Capital voice — love that! Perfectly apropos, of course. Don’t you love that the muffins are called Baker Bear? Cornelius is all a-swoon! 🙂


  6. HAPPY HAPPY to Janet!

    Jama, you’ve outdone yourself once again. How much do I love this post and those recipes. And how delightful is it that Terry wrote a collection of bread poems? I certainly never would have thought of that, and I just adore “Global Gorging.” So many treasures in this anthology.

    I have a chronic sweet tooth, so these questions are hard. Hmmm – fave cookies are chocolate chip, and I’m going to sneak brownies and cream cheese brownies in there and pretend they are cookies; fave crunchy thing is toffee dipped in dark or milk chocolate and crushed roasted almonds (my own recipe); and my fave global foods are all French (mais oui) – filet mignon au poivre, croissants, and that raspberry mousse from the patisserie in St. Tropez.

    (In other news, I see your Darcy and raise you one dashing poet in the form of the young and swoon-worthy W. B. Yeats. Cathy Mealy and I wondered if this could be the guy to unseat Darcy…)


    1. Renee,
      When can I come visit so I can experience all that yummy food with you?
      I LOVED your interview with Y.B. Yeats. I drove by his house once in Ireland. It is out in the boonies over a very rutted rocky road.


    2. I see you’re a chocolate fiend! Sneaking brownies in when you can. Can’t say I blame you. Even your fave crunchy food is something dipped in chocolate.

      Ah! Zee croissants. Mais oui! Raspberries = magnifique, n’est pas?

      I see your W.B. Yeats, and raise my Darcy once again. I mean, what about Bridget Jones?!


  7. Jama,
    Thanks for an awesome post. I’m in love with Janet and Sylvia too. They are sooooo awesome. And THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY is a fantastic book. Happy Birthday, Janet. It is an interesting lexicon development to me that children’s poets are starting to identify themselves by their placement in the book, “I’m Kindergarten, Week 25 Song and Dance.” I hope the book finds its way into every children’s classroom. There is so much fun packed between the two covers. Thanks for your great post. Thanks for continuing the fun and the yummy food.
    I have a list poem about children in the USA up today with a fun writing challenge at



    1. Love that you poets are identifying yourselves that way! I agree that the book belongs in every classroom and library and home! A classic for sure. Enjoyed your poems in there, Joy. Shall I call you, “First Grade, Week 4, Pets” from now on too?


  8. Wow, Jama, your post is like a book! I am a fan of all kinds of cookies, so it is hard to pick one. I am partial to gingersnaps, I admit, but who can resist a good chocolate chip cookie? I also really like maple cookies, and don’t have them nearly enough. Favorite food from around the world? I’m in the mood for German this evening. Some comfort food 🙂


    1. A cookie monster! You’re a kindred spirit for sure. I’ve never cooked anything German, I don’t think. All I can think of is beer and bratwurst :).


  9. Today we had Patricia Polacco as the visiting author at my “old” school. Our lunch had homemade treats that coordinated with or were inspired by food mentioned in a bunch of Patricia’s books. Have any of you tried her grandmother’s Thunder Cake? Delicious! Well, Janet, if I could I would bring you one, it is yummy and includes tomatoes!! And is decorated with strawberries, a double whammy. So it is definitely healthy!! On a more poetic note, I have read or perhaps should say gobbled up this fabulous book by Janet and Sylvia. For teachers looking for ideas for poems and ways to connect to the CC, this truly fits the bill. As a teacher I love the Take 5 Tips. A great way to give teachers entree into using the poems in class. Here’s to a new TGIF. Rather TGIPF !!!!! Poetry Fridays may blossom in many more schools thanks to Janet and Sylvia’s continued efforts.


    1. Thanks for the nice comment, Janet! Your Patricia P. luncheon sounds divine! I’ve never made thunder cake, now I’m intrigued. Have never had tomatoes in a cake before!

      Love your enthusiasm for the book — can’t say I’m surprised, though. What’s not to love? So easy to use, so versatile, packed with so many great ideas and good poems.


  10. Thanks, everybody, for all the birthday wishes–and the delicious descriptions of your favorite foods! I think Sylvia and I will need to do THREE weeks of food poems in our next book!!


  11. Favorite cookie: pecan sandies.
    Favorite crunch food: peanut brittle.
    Favorite food from elsewhere the world: cashew chicken.

    What do those favorites add up to? I’M NUTS!!!

    PS–Fabulous post, Happy Birthday to Janet, LOVE the new eye candy!!


  12. Hi, Jama. You had me at cookies. I love the cookie poem. Writing about food with kids is one of my favorite things to do during a poetry residency. Many of them end up writing about family traditions (pho, Grandma’s special oatmeal, even a goat’s head once) and memories. What a rich post! I will be craving cookies and guacamole all day.


  13. This is scary! I’ve been wanting to introduce poetry to the kids in my music & lit program. I’ve wanted to connect cooking with poetry. Did not know how to effectively get started. I thought detailing the aromas, textures, tastes, colors would be a good start for an exercise in free verse with my early learners. When what to my wondering eyes did appear but Jama’s new post of epicureans__the dear! Saw you mention this post on, No Water River. I AM SO GLAD I STOPPED BY! It seems the anthology is going to be a useful resource for my upcoming activities with early learners and school-agers. Gonna try to win a copy. Anyway, You poets, ROCK! I love you!


    1. Hi Pamela!

      SO happy you dropped by, too. Keeping my fingers crossed you win a copy of the anthology — you will LOVE it. It does sound absolutely perfect for what you’re trying to do. The Take 5 teaching strategies for each and every poem are amazing.


  14. Dear Jama – I’m thinking a poet-recipe book with you as editor…. wouldn’t that be fun! And you know, I think eating one’s way around the world is a pretty worthy goal. I’m there. Thank you for rounding up these food poems and for the lovely shout-out to yes the best poetry evangelistas. Happy birthday, Janet!


    1. That would definitely be fun — I’ve seen cookbooks featuring adult poets, but can’t think of any featuring children’s poets exclusively.


  15. YUM! Love this buffet – thanks for leaving out some crumbs, even though I’m late. And I do enjoy the addition of the Yeats Eye Candy for dessert over there, thanks to Renee… ;0)


    1. Didn’t realize WB had so many fans!

      Always happy to have you visit at any time. Your place at the table is always ready, jama oatmeal bars waiting. 🙂


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