friday feast: Jumping Off Library Shelves by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Jane Manning (+ a giveaway!)

WELCOME BOOK LOVERS!

The Alphabet Soup Mini Library is now open.

Please help yourself to a yummy fig bar book compliments of the Teddy Town Bears. They made them especially for you to celebrate the recent release of Jumping Off Library Shelves (Wordsong, 2015), a very cool collection of 15 poems selected by master anthologist, author, poet, editor, educator and eternal hotTEA Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Two words make me instantly happy: LOVE and LIBRARY. They’re kind of synonymous in my mind, and truly, could any of us thrive without either one?

Wahiawa Library front entrance.

The public library in my small country hometown of Wahiawa, Hawai’i, was my safe haven while growing up — a true home away from home where I discovered the likes of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lois Lenski, Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Beverly Cleary, Eleanor Estes, and Sydney Taylor. It was a quiet place to think, read, dream, wonder, learn and imagine – a place where I could travel new roads, discover new worlds within the pages of a favorite book, the place where it first occurred to me that anything can happen, anything is possible.

Wahiawa Library Children’s Section

The poems in Jumping Off Library Shelves joyously celebrate the singular experiences that make any library a magical place, from the breathless anticipation of first entering “the sweet kingdom of story,” to getting one’s first library card, to cozily snuggling up with a good story, to basking in the power and privilege of choosing books and being transported and transformed. Who would not thrill at the prospect of so much knowledge, so many good stories right there for the taking?

And librarians! Are they the smartest, kindest, most amazing people in the world or what? It’s truly uncanny how they seem to know just what we want or need. I’ll always remember the time I desperately wanted a book my teacher had begun reading to us in class, but I couldn’t recall the exact title. A shy child, I haltingly described it to the librarian as a story about a boy in a canoe in a big ocean. “Do you mean this one?” she asked, walking over to the shelf and pulling down Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry. Yes!

Another time, as I was wandering around the children’s section, a very kind librarian asked if I needed help. When I explained that I didn’t know what to read next, she patiently asked me about other books I’d really loved. Then she pressed The Trouble With Jenny’s Ear by Oliver Butterworth in my hands. “I think you’ll like this one.” And she was right. I really loved it, moreso because she picked it out just for me.

And this is precisely why we all love libraries so much. If we’re lucky, as children we learn early on that this is a safe place where you can actually get help from someone caring and kind. Joan Bransfield Graham’s poem “Librarian” sums it up beautifully: “you’ve been a friend . . . you read my heart.”

I love how all the poems in this collection are full of heart, resonating with personal, child-centric emotion. Bookended by two wonderful poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich (adorable morning and midnight mice), we are also treated to lyrical gems by Nikki Grimes, Michele Krueger, Cynthia S. Cotten, Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, X.J. Kennedy, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Deborah Ruddell, Alice Schertle, Kristine O’Connell George, Ann Whitford Paul, and Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.

Jane Manning’s charmingly vibrant gouache and pencil illustrations with their swirls and soft edges beautifully capture the energy, whimsy and playfulness of the imaginative realm. She uses reds to great effect — a child’s shirt, rosy cheeks, a new library card, a librarian’s vest, a pillow, Ms. Baker’s blazer, the cover of a book — to denote the beating heart of each scene.

Kids will eagerly embrace these verses, while adult readers will fondly recall their own early library experiences. Are you old enough to remember wooden card catalogs and the decisive click-thrump of the date stamp at the checkout counter?🙂

Today, I’m pleased to share three sample poems from the book. Lee’s poem is dedicated to Augusta Baker, a dear friend whom he met while working at the Bank Street College of Education in Harlem, New York, in the 1960’s. Augusta was a librarian, storyteller, and first African American woman to hold an administrative position with the New York Public Library. About his childhood library, Lee says:

MY library as a young child was in Scranton, PA, where I was born, a place I treasured. Located in the Bulls Head section I can still remember walking into the building, where as Nikki Grimes writes in her verse “Refuge”, my “sweet kingdom of story”. I still recall checking out my favorite book, THE SATURDAYS by Elizabeth Enright, wanting to keep the book forever.

I thank Rebecca, Lee and Amy for permission to share their poems, and Zoe at Playing by the Book for the Fig Bar Books idea. Enjoy!

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(click to enlarge)

BREAKFAST BETWEEN THE SHELVES
by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Morning pours spoons of sun
through tall windows, rests along
a reading chair, a copper rail;
hovers over crumbs, small supper scraps
left by those who opened books
last night, to live in story.

Mice scamper
between shelves,
pass poems
like platters of cheese;

Please read this about Owl!
And this about Giant!

They find words
sprinkled like cracker salt
on all those pages
where genius weaves letters
into magic; beckons new readers:

Look! This is the book for you.

Morning pours spoons of sun.

~ Posted by permission of the author. Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

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(click to enlarge)

STORYTELLER
(For Augusta Baker)

by Lee Bennett Hopkins

As she speaks
words
leap from pages —

there are
friends like
frog and toad —

I walk
down a
yellow brick road.

Worlds of paper
disappear —

only Miss Augusta
and I
are here
in a room
filled with magic
story
rhyme.

And as her voice
reaches
the highest
rafter —

I believe in

once-upon-a-time,

I believe in

happily ever after.

~ Posted by permission of the author. Copyright © 2015 Lee Bennett Hopkins.

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(click to enlarge)

BOOK PILLOWS
by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

With my head on a book
I dream of a place
where a pig loves a spider.

I dream of a face
high in a tower
with ropes of hair falling.

When books become pillows
stories come calling —

Wild things on a rumpus!
Fat evil kings!
Boy wizards, girl witches!
Horses with wings!

Stars shine on shelves
as I rest my full head
on book

after book

each a dream
I once read.

~ Posted by permission of the author. Copyright © 2015 Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.

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JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES: A Book of Poems

selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
illustrated by Jane Manning
published by Wordsong, September 2015
Poetry Picture Book for ages 5-8, 32 pp.

*Check out this recent interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins at Today’s Little Ditty for more about Augusta Baker and this book.

*

📘 SPECIAL GIVEAWAY 📙

For a chance to win a brand new copy, simply leave a comment at this post telling us a bit about your childhood library no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, September 30, 2015. Extra entries for tweeting, blogging, Facebooking, etc. (please mention in your comment). Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Winner will be announced next Friday. Good Luck!

*   *   *

🎉 THE HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CUPCAKE! GIVEAWAY WINNER 🎈

IS

VICKI from I’d Rather Be at the Beach!!

🎂 CONGRATULATIONS, VICKI! 🍰

Please send me your snail mail address so we can get the book out to you pronto. 

Thanks, everyone, for entering!

*   *   *

poetry fridayThe lovely and talented poetry goddesses Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong are hosting the Roundup today at Poetry for Children. Sashay on over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week!

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*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2015 Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrations © 2015 Jane Manning, published by Wordsong. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

67 thoughts on “friday feast: Jumping Off Library Shelves by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Jane Manning (+ a giveaway!)

  1. I was in the summer reading program at the Houston Public Library’s Walter Branch every summer from first grade to fifth grade. The children’s librarian asked me to be a volunteer as a sixth grader. As part of my first librarian job, I was that librarian’s supervisor. I still think that she should have been my supervisor.

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  2. What a beautiful collection! And the poems!- so full of heart and wonderfully crafted. I love the illustrations as well. Can’t wait to buy (or win) a copy!

    I moved a lot as a child so the actual libraries are a blur- but I do remember my excitement in going to the libraries and leaving with armfuls of treasure. I was also a good Catholic schoolgirl and worried about returning the books on time- to the point of having bad dreams about it! Flash forward 50 years and I went to return some overdue books to my local library. There was a computer on the front desk-placed catty-corner so I could read the screen. As the librarian entered my returned books, “DELINQUENT” flashed beside each overdue title. I thought I’d have a heart attack!🙂

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    1. Oh my, I can see why that “DELINQUENT” would be unnerving. I was the same way about overdue books. But more recently when I expressed dismay over being late, the librarian made me feel better by telling me not to feel bad — my fines would help fund the library🙂. Another reason why librarians are the best — they find the good in most everything.

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  3. What a stunning tribute to Lee’s book, libraries, and librarians! I feel lucky to be a part of this book and am standing in delight reading your words and looking at these pictures. This past summer, we visited Maine, and I won a painting in a silent auction. It felt so good to support the library, and we are able to enjoy the painting here at home every day. Thank you for always feeding our senses in so many ways, Jama. xo

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    1. What a nice way to support the library! And Maine! I love Maine.🙂

      Thanks again for letting me share your wonderful poem, Amy. It truly is a wonderful collection, a gem true to Lee’s brilliance.

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  4. JAMA: A hearty thank-you for taking time to do such a wondrous post. I’m sitting here JUMPING… over your words. You mention three authors you read as a child: BEVERY CLEARY, ELEANOR ESTES, and SYDNEY TAYLOR. Beverly and I have had some rather ‘wild times’ together; she is now 99 years young; Eleanor and Sydney were delights to know. And…there words will live in libraries, words to jump off library shelves.

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    1. Is there anyone you don’t know, Lee? Wow! I hope you’ll tell us more about those “wild times” with Beverly Cleary sometime. Ramona Quimby is one of my favorite characters ever.

      Thanks for publishing another fine poetry book in celebration of authors, books, the love of reading, and libraries!

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    1. I can still smell my childhood library. That’s an aroma that lingers a lifetime: grey dust, old bindings, librarians’ hairspray. I walked there all the time and borrowed as much as they let me. What power it was to walk inside empty-handed and leave with what felt like treasure and gold.

      Wait. That’s exactly what those books were.

      I drive by that old library every so often. I hope there’s a kid in there, falling in love with each book she opens. I wonder if that kid is me.

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    2. Thanks for telling us about your library, Pam. Sounds like the librarians were a well-coiffed bunch🙂. You’re right about the great feeling of power one could wield with a simple library card. Treasure!

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  5. Sigh. Swoon. I haven’t gotten my hands on this yet and can’t wait to.
    My own childhood library was The Maitland Public Library – yes, magical. I rode my bike there around Florida lakes, dodging Florida snakes, under streams of Spanish moss… I loved that place.
    Thanks for this lovely peek into a new treasure by “eternal hotTEA Lee Bennett Hopkins”! And Rebecca’s image, ” words/sprinkled like cracker salt” – well, that’s why she’s so magical herself. Love Amy’s dream books, and those fig bar book cookies!

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    1. Sounds like part of your library adventures was in simply getting there on your bike. Snakes! Yikes!

      I do love the food references in Rebecca’s poem. So fresh, so surprising. Hope you get your paws on this book soon — truly a treasure.

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  6. My childhood library was a long drive from home (almost 30 minutes) for a kid. My father was a voracious reader and went every Saturday morning, so I went along. I can remember getting bored in the “kids” section and longing to roam the adult rows of shelves and pick books to read. I think I was 10 when my father took me to the mystery section and handed me an Agatha Christie novel. I loved it and came back every week with him for something new.

    Thanks for sharing this glimpse of Lee’s new collection. Can’t wait to read it.

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    1. Love hearing about you and your Dad’s Saturday morning library visits! My mom was the one who drove me to the library when I didn’t ride my bike. A real treat was sometimes going to the Wheeler Air Force Base Library. They had books the Wahiawa Library didn’t have.🙂

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  7. Jama, my friend, your post is as magical as this book! I especially enjoyed the heartwarming recollections of your own childhood experiences with librarians, and the description of how Jane Manning uses reds…”to denote the beating heart of each scene.” I will be sharing via social media, but no need to enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. We were definitely on the same wave length when it came to sharing sample poems from this marvelous book. Enjoyed your interview with Lee!

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  8. My childhood library was and is very small, but that didn’t keep me from visiting as often as I could and checking out as many books as they’d let me. In between librarian jobs, I volunteered there as an adult. I still stop in occasionally and I still have my original library card with the punch number.

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  9. I just received this wonderful book yesterday! And now you’ve made me want to jump up, grab, & read it, Jama. Who can resist “spoons of sun
    through tall windows”. Love those little cakes, too. Your creativity is to be celebrated! My “growing up” library was a bookmobile, a saving of me as a reader. This wonderful woman brought books each week after discovering those that I loved. I still remember the sound of clomping up the metal stairs. Thanks for a post to love, too.

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    1. I always thought bookmobiles were so cool! Didn’t really see any where we lived. It would seem like a great job — traveling around with books and getting them to people who were so happy when you came. Love that your bookmobile person brought certain books just for you.

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  10. What a wonderful post! This book needs to be in everyone’s library. My childhood library was a beautiful, old brick building with stairs, columns and two huge wooden doors where you entered. It wasn’t large inside, but it had enough books to keep me reading and loving libraries. I tweeted and shared on Facebook about this great giveaway!

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  11. Riding my bicycle to the library, parking in the rack around back, racing down the metal stairs that led to the children’s room, the dim lights and comforting quiet, the wonderful smell, and the promise of going home with a full basket of books! Your post brought those memories back, Jama–and it sounds like this book is filled with that magic.

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    1. Thanks for sharing those great memories, Buffy. I was right with you barreling down those stairs to the children’s room. It truly was a great feeling taking a bunch of books home. I always felt so rich!

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  12. My cousin Jama is fortunate to have a picture of the Wahiawa Public Library…all I have are my memories of a little cardboard card with a metal insert that was my unique library card number! I was solemnly told by my sisters that if any books were returned late I would not be given a ride home, so I made sure to return all 13 books I could borrow on time before borrowing another 13! At that library, I discovered all the Doctor Dolittle books and started reading Newbery award winners, and delighted in being able to use the card catalog AND finding what I was looking for on the shelves. All those cards painstakingly sorted: to me they were as much a treasure trove waiting to be discovered as the books themselves were!

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    1. I loved the card catalog too, and remember how deftly the librarians could sift through the cards with expert thumb action. Sounds like you’ve never returned any books late in your entire life! Your sisters trained you well.🙂

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  13. I can’t wait to read this book! What lovely poems you shared here. Thanks for that. I remember going to our public library every week with my mother and sisters. We would each leave with a pile of books — at least one for every day of the week. I am a library hound and use several different ones in the area. Thanks for this post and for a chance to win this book.

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    1. Sounds like you’re from a big reading family. I like frequenting different libraries too — each with its own personality and special offerings. There’s one nearby that used to have a pet rabbit in the children’s room.

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  14. What a rich, delicious post! Wonderful, as usual, Jama.
    As for my childhood library, I could tell you the exact layout, where certain sections were, where the windows let the light stream in, what the patio outside felt like when you were sitting down to read the first paragraph of chosen books before checking them out, what it felt like when the librarian stamped the check-out card with her firm kaboom! Total confidence, that gesture, and the noise of it made me feel the responsibility of my choices. I loved that place, and my mother never once told me to stay in the children’s section. I loved browsing all the travel magazines and the adult non-fiction. This was at the Willow Glen branch library in San Jose – just the right size, a secret little kingdom hidden in the bustling and booming Santa Clara Valley of the 1950’s.

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    1. What a wonderful description of your library, Julie! I agree about the sound of the date stamp acknowledging the responsibility of one’s choices. For the longest time I wanted one of those stamps for myself. These days, all we have are scanner “beeps” and self-checkout lines. Not the same feeling at all.

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  15. I’ve been a public librarian for 29 years, but I’ll let you in on a secret…I have hardly any memories of my local public library growing up! I do have fond memories of Fifth Avenue School and the school librarian asking us about nursery rhymes. I was quite familiar with them, but she remarked on how few kids knew nursery rhymes. Why I remember this bit of information is beyond me–it was back in the 1950s. I imagine, if she were still alive, she would appalled that today’s kids seem to have no background in nursery rhymes at all.

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    1. That’s really surprising about kids not knowing nursery rhymes as much anymore. I guess I was lucky to have some nursery rhyme books at home because I don’t remember reading them in the public or school library.

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  16. I want this book! My childhood library is the Bell Memorial Library of teensy, tiny, itty, bitty Nunda, NY. It’s a lovely library that grew my mind big even though it was small. I read through the children’s section with glee. My favorite book was You Bet Your Boots I Can…..and if I ever find a copy I will buy it just for the memories. I must have read it a dozen times and sighed EVERY time I came to the part where the violet drooped over the main character’s toe. I will facebook and twitter this blog entry! I am a middle school librarian and love the whole concept of the book going to me or someone else who will LOVE it!

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    1. Hi Linda! What fun reading your comment. Haven’t heard of Nunda, NY but it sounds charming.🙂 And I haven’t read that boots book. Love your memory of the drooping violet. Must look for that book.

      Thanks for sharing about the giveaway!

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    1. You will definitely enjoy this book, Matt. Well, you know how it is with Lee — brilliant at selecting just the right poems for a collection. I feel the same about my hometown library — it shaped who I am too.

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  17. There is a lovely library in Kensington, Maryland called The Noyes Library for young children! It’s actually a little, little house turned into a library – so inviting and cozy! My children and I spent many happy times there!

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  18. I love the poems you selected, Jama! I can’t wait to get me hands on this book. So many good memories come out of libraries – especially when librarians touch our hearts. I grew up in Anaheim, CA and loved going to the library programs where you earned prizes. (I’m a sucker for winning things!)

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    1. Oh, prizes! What a fun library, Bridget. I’ve enjoyed various library programs over the years — especially like when they have author readings.

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  19. I love the poems! Those little fig bar books are the cutest. Libraries can be such wondrous places for kids — opening up all those worlds and stories and characters and ideas. Love that there are books and poems that celebrate them.

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    1. Yes, books and libraries need to be celebrated whenever possible. This is an especially lovely selection of poems. Hope you get to see this book soon.🙂

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  20. Love this collection and LOVELOVELOVE the fig bar books! I have so many great memories of our small town library and the stacks of books I brought home every week! My first two years of teaching, I made friends with the children’s librarians at the main library in Dallas, carrying bags and bags of books to my classroom every week. Something in me doesn’t love the self-serve checkout system our libraries here have gone to — I miss the human touch and the book chats with the librarians/checkout staff!

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    1. I agree with you — those self-serve checkouts and scanners are so impersonal. You can learn quite a bit via casual conversations with those at the checkout desk. Now, mostly, my only contact with them is to pay an overdue fine.

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  21. Such a wonderful post, Jama! The poems, the library… I look forward to reading everything you share with us! Sadly, I never got the chance to go to a library until I started first grade. Our school library was very small, and I don’t remember checking books out. I think that was because my parents worried I’d lose them, and they would have to pay to replace them. When my sons were small, I made sure we visited our library every week. It, too, was very small, but we always found some great books to take home!

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  22. Hi, Jama, as always your posts are perfection! Thanks for your delicious review and for linking to our Poetry Friday party, too! As you can guess, Lee’s new anthology is one of my new favorites– and book that celebrates books, reading, libraries, and LIBRARIANS is tops in my world!

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  23. I always won (blue ice pops) for reading the most books during summer break! So I’d celebrate, blue tongue and all, in my private book nook atop the willow tree in our backyard. Never dreamed that I’d grow up to write children’s books (mostly about animals, who have always been my passion). Thanks, Jama, for transporting me back in time to a special place!

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  24. I feel really bad when I talk about my first library – it always scared me, the librarians never recommended books, and it was a boring place. Now, my current library is awesome – the main building is somewhat lacking, but they have an amazing bookmobile! They are very kid-friendly.
    Great review!🙂

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