friday feast: celebrating fall with a janet wong giveaway!


Happy Poetry Friday!

We’re falling big time for Janet S. Wong today with a special Autumn Giveaway. That’s right — one of you lucky munchkins will win the prize pack pictured above — paperback copies of The Rainbow Hand: Poems About Mothers and Children, Good Luck Gold, Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for an Election Year, and Behind the Wheel: Poems About Driving!

This bounty of goodness represents a wonderful cross section of Janet’s inspiring, funny, heartwarming, conversational, honest, always accessible verse. What I especially love about Janet’s poetry is how she’s able to extract meaning and relevance from almost anything — every situation, ordinary or extraordinary, and tell it true. When you hear the voices in her poems, you feel as though you’ve definitely met that person before, or that she’s talking about you, and you wonder, how did she know? has she been reading my mail? has she always lived in my back pocket?

I love the poems in Declaration of Interdependence — it is the perfect way to stimulate discussion about our very interesting why-isn’t-it-over-yet presidential election. In the back of the book, Janet includes some great discussion and writing ideas that really got me thinking, like, “Write a list of the most ridiculous (or scariest or most impractical) ideas you’ve heard from presidential candidates (official and unofficial).” Or, “What would you say to convince someone that his vote counts?” And yes, kids should get to vote!

For your dining pleasure today, I’m serving up a sample poem from each of the books. Enjoy the feast; more details about the giveaway at the end of this post!

* * * * *

“Smother Love”

The boy asks his mother,
“Who will take care of me when you die?”
“I will not die soon,” the mother says,
and pats him on his head like a dog.

But the boy wants to know.
“What if you die next month? Next year?”

The boy, so small, has made his mother afraid.

She looks twice before she crosses the street.
She washes her hands ten times a day.
She stops eating duck skin,
standing in front of the microwave.

She holds his hand tight in the market.
She hugs him so hard he cannot breathe.
Red in the face, the boy struggles free from her arms,
shouting, “You trying to kill me?”

~ from THE RAINBOW HAND: Poems About Mothers and Children (with illustrations by Jennifer Hewitson), copyright © 1999 Janet S. Wong. All rights reserved.

*ABA Pick of the Lists
* Penn State, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor

* * * * *

“At a Chinese Feast”

Blackgrass jello?
Sweet bean soup?
What’s that goop?
MmmMango pudding —
isn’t bad —
You know something?
I’m half glad
they didn’t have
my ice cream pie.
Could I give
that soup a try?

~ from GOOD LUCK GOLD, copyright © 1994 Janet S. Wong. All rights reserved.

*Clarement Stone Center Recognition of Merit Award

* * * * *

“Short Sighted”

They’ve never had someone so short
in driver’s ed,
so they didn’t know what to do
when my foot didn’t touch
the pedals.
Stuck a thin block
on the gas,
a thick block
on the brake
so my legs could reach.

If only they could stretch me enough
so I can see
where I am going —

~ from BEHIND THE WHEEL: Poems about Driving, copyright © 1999 Janet S. Wong. All rights reserved.

* ABA Pick of the Lists
* Booklist Star
*ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers

* * * * *


I pledge acceptance
of the views,
so different,
that make us America

To listen, to look,
to think, and to learn

One people
sharing the earth
for liberty
and justice
for all.

~ from DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE: Poems for an Election Year, copyright © 2012 Janet S. Wong. All rights reserved.

“Occupy the TV”

I can’t wait for the election
to be over, to be done.

This president selection:
99% no fun.

The cable TV coverage
occupies too many channels

With nonstop blah-blah-blabbing
by some not-so-expert panels.

They should call these things “Duh baits,”
the way those guys are baited

Into acting so ridiculous
they seem uneducated.

I think they must be smarter.
They simply must know more

than they’re showing us — say what?
You and me in ’24?

~ from DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE: Poems for an Election Year, copyright © 2012 Janet S. Wong. All rights reserved.

* * * * *


For a chance to win the prize pack, simply leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EST) Monday, October 15, 2012.

You may also enter by sending an email with JANET ROCKS in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Extra entries if you blog, Facebook or Tweet about the giveaway (please mention in your comment here). Open to U.S. residents only, please. Winner will be notified by email on Tuesday, October 16th. Good Luck!

**Special thanks to the ever generous Janet Wong for donating the books! In her honor, let’s all wear black and eat some potato chips!


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♥ Find Janet on the Web:

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Betsy at Teaching Young Writers is hosting today’s Roundup. Sashay on over and check out the full menu of poetic treats being shared in the blogosphere this week.


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

41 thoughts on “friday feast: celebrating fall with a janet wong giveaway!

  1. What a lovely giveaway 🙂 Janet Wong’s poems (or at least the ones you have posted) are sparse in words, but capture the essence of her topic. I really like “at a Chinese feast”!


    1. Yes, you nailed it. Deceptively simple on the surface, but she gets the emotional essence right every time. I love the Chinese Feast poem too, especially since soup is included :).


    1. You’ll definitely enjoy Janet’s poetry — I think you’ll have a similar reaction as I do, like she’s talking about you or someone very familiar.


    1. *waves back*

      Hi Amy! I love “Liberty” too — a simple pledge that speaks volumes. I’d read the book months ago and liked the poems then, but now with the election in full force, everything takes on added, more intense significance. I think we should have a poet for President, don’t you?


  2. What a swell buncha swag for a lucky munchkin! Alas, it cannot be expat me, but I still enjoyed the Janet stew you cooked up here. Such true and accessible poems, so easy on the eyes! As a fairly new mom, “Smother Love” terrifies me. I look four times before crossing.


    1. A Janet Stew — perfect!

      She nailed it with “Smother Love”, didn’t she? Love that poem, and I’m not even a mother. To capture so much in so few words . . . the truth . . .


  3. I was feeling a little odd this morning and now I know why: I’ve been cooked up into “Janet stew”! (thanks for the visual, Renee!) Thank you, Jama, for this lovely tribute. I hope it inspires lots of cautious street-crossing, adventurous Chinese dessert-eating–and wearing black and eating potato chips!


    1. Janet Stew is the most delicious stew on the planet! Thanks for making this giveaway possible, for always spreading the poetry love, and of course for continuing to write such fabulous poems. You are unstoppable!! But now I have to go out and buy some more potato chips. Good thing I have lots of black clothes already :).


  4. Jama — thanks for reminding me. I MUST pick up “Behind the Wheel” for my soon-to-be driving teen. “Occupy the TV” is an especially pertinent poem this week.


  5. Having my 6th grade English students watch the debates – their responses are the truest I have heard! Janet’s duh-bait poem is going straight to my classroom! Love to win these books for school (and for me!) – Hannah


  6. I think those poems are beautiful. I have been really enjoying the PoetryTagTime series marveling at the potential for increasing everyone’s love of poetry. Here is the link to my tweet about this delicious (as always) post.


    1. Thanks, Madelyn! That poem is straight out of my child-rearing experience. My son is now 19 and more tolerant of my mothering style (which has calmed down since he’s been away at college) so I don’t think I’d be accused of smothering him any longer . . . but he was in real danger when he was younger!


  7. The color Black (which I love as it reminds me of the night), chips (finger-lickin’ good), poetry, election fever, Janet Wong, Chinese Feast – oh there is so much to love yet again in this post, Jama and Janet. And such generosity of spirit! So many books for giveaway I am positively hyperventilating! I should get to know more of Janet’s works STAT! 🙂


    1. Yes, you definitely need to read more of Janet’s poetry. I especially love her sense of humor. And her food poems, of course. . .


  8. Thanks for introducing me to more poems by Janet. “Occupy The TV”, as Laura says, is quite appropriate for these past two weeks, either night. I love The Declaration of Interdependence, which I won last time Jama & Janet. I have shared it and shared it with other teachers! The others are wonderful too, like those in Poetry Tag. And Jama, I just had a birthday cupcake in your honor! I would share if you were here! Thanks for a post full of tasty words this time.


    1. Oh, a cupcake! Please have another and another and think of me (I can avoid the calories and still feel good that way).

      So fabulous to hear you’ve been sharing Janet’s book with other teachers!


  9. I really enjoyed these poems! Thanks for sharing them. I think my favorite is “Smother Love,” which seems simple but is very deep.

    Ruth (


  10. One people
    sharing the earth
    for liberty
    and justice
    for all.

    Now there’s a cause I can vote for! Thanks for sharing these poems, Jama…and hooray for contests – these would be marvelous additions to my classroom.


  11. I’m the last one to the party after being out all weekend, but three cheers for this Janet Wong buffet! I recently gave BEHIND THE WHEEL to our high school’s history teacher (and poetry connoisseur). :0)


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