[review + editor chat + giveaway] Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson

Birdsong, flowers blooming, “a sea of summer air.” What a singular delight to linger over this new collection of Emily Dickinson poems!

Emily Dickinson, edited by Susan Snively and illustrated by Christine Davenier, is the first book in a new Poetry for Kids series published by MoonDance Press. The 35 poems are arranged by season, beginning with Summer. And what a joyous welcome it is:

It’s all I have to bring today,
This, and my heart beside,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.

Who could resist such a generous invitation to tag along with Emily as she spies a skittish bird, describes what it’s like to chance upon a snake (“grass divides as with a comb”), and cheerfully provides a “recipe” for making a prairie (“it takes a clover and one bee”)?

After the carefree explorations of summer, there’s a gradual winding down as Autumn arrives, with poems about a garden preparing for the cold weather, sunsets, and the passage from life to death. Winter ruminations strike a fitting contemplative tone: snowfall magically transforming the landscape, an industrious spider spinning a web, imagining what heaven might be like.

With Spring, the welcome signs of new life, a delightful letter from a fly to a bee, and fanciful cloud gazing:

A curious cloud surprised the sky,
‘Twas like a sheet with horns;
The sheet was blue, the antlers gray,
It almost touched the lawns”

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Indie Artist Spotlight: Julie Schronk of Just Folks

“Our Big Family” © 2016 Julie Schronk

🌺

Each of Julie Schronk’s whimsical folk art paintings feels like a big-hearted welcome, a friendly invitation to step right into the scene to join all the fun.

Fancy an old fashioned church picnic, quilt show or yard sale? Maybe you’d prefer a lazy afternoon at your favorite fishing hole, a stroll down main street, or a quick bite at the local diner. Julie’s cheery, engaging slices of old-timey Americana, rendered in vibrant colors and bustling with activity, brim with just the kind of quirky details that beg a closer look.

“By the Sea”

Originally from Dallas, Julie now lives in Hillsboro, Texas, where she paints traditional, Black, Bayou and bohemian folk art. She calls herself a memory and storyteller painter who kindles memories of bygone days and inspires people to imagine their own stories in her pictures.

Julie’s now in her 16th year of creating and selling her acrylic originals, which have been shipped to almost every state in the union and to countries such as France, Singapore, Canada and New Zealand.

I love the warmth and convivial vitality in Julie’s pieces, which are like mini cultural history lessons with their depictions of cotton gins, juke joints, country stores, Amish barns, farmyards, and city skylines.

“Night Fishin’ on the Bayou”
“Trolleys” is Julie’s favorite painting.

I’m so happy to welcome Julie to Alphabet Soup today to tell us more about her joyous paintings and a bit about her children’s books. I know you’ll enjoy stepping back in time and hearing how this talented artist works.

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[Review + Chat + Giveaway] Elisa Kleven on The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy

Though there are runaway pancakes, latkes, matzo balls, rice cakes, tortillas, and dumplings, when it comes to fleet-footed fleeing food, no one can top the gingerbread man.

As a scrumptious treat, he’s been around for centuries. Did you know Her Royal Gingerness Queen Elizabeth I is credited with the first man-shaped cookie? She liked to give important guests gingerbread likenesses of themselves. 🙂

As a beloved cumulative folktale, The Gingerbread Man first appeared in print in late 19th century America. This cheeky rascal has been on the run and taunting his pursuers ever since!

Still, for as many times as you’ve read his story, have you ever felt sorry for him or wondered what could have happened if there hadn’t been a wily fox to snatch him up?

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[Review + Author Chat + Giveaway] When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano and Julie Morstad

Art © 2016 Julie Morstad (click to enlarge)

march 20

from a snow-covered tree
one bird singing
each tweet poking
a tiny hole
through the edge of winter
and landing carefully
balancing gently
on the tip of spring

march 22

just like a tiny, blue hello
a crocus blooming
in the snow

I can’t think of a better way to kick off National Poetry Month and celebrate Spring than with these beautiful poems by Julie Fogliano, the first two in her brand new book, When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons (Roaring Brook Press, 2016)illustrated by Julie Morstad.

She pretty much had me at “each tweet poking/a tiny hole/through the edge of winter,” and I continued to swoon as I carefully made my way through the entire book, which features about a dozen enchanting poems for each season, presented as dated entries in a nature journal, beginning and ending with March 20, the Spring equinox.

These spare and lyrical free verse observations are told in an intimate, conversational voice, describing subtle and not-so-subtle seasonal changes with regard to wind, rain, earth, sky, and many green and colorful growing things. From a child’s perspective, small things can be everything, and if you stand or sit still long enough, wonder will reveal itself: flowers “lean and bend toward the light/wide open as if singing/their voices (silent but everywhere)/fill up the daytime/a song much more than purple/and beyond every red.”

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[Author Chat + Recipe + Giveaway] April Halprin Wayland on More Than Enough: A Passover Story

Congratulations on your new book, April!

Since my favorite picture books blend food with family, friends and cultural tradition, I was especially happy to hear that award winning author, poet, and Teaching Authors Poetry Friday friend April Halprin Wayland had written a brand new story that does just that, and it’s coming out next Tuesday, March 15!

Charmingly illustrated by Katie Kath, More Than Enough: A Passover Story (Dial BYR, 2016)is a joyous and heartwarming celebration of the holiday as well as a lyrical paean to the practice of gratitude.

We follow a family as they embrace the spirit of Dayenu (a traditional seder song of thankfulness), while happily anticipating and enjoying their Passover feast. The two children revel in each activity leading up to and at the event: shopping at the farmers’ market (adopting a kitten!), tasting raindrops, chopping apples and walnuts to make charoset, putting on special clothes, and splashing in mud puddles as they walk to Nana’s house.

Once there, they join their relatives for the ceremonial meal with the seder plate of symbolic foods, ask the four questions, and sing a lively rendition of “Dayenu” (which means “it would have been enough”), to thank God for his many gifts to the Jewish people (leading them out of slavery, parting the Red Sea, giving of the Torah). Then it’s time for delicious matzoh balls, chicken, and jellied fruit slices before searching for the hidden afikomen (matzoh piece), and opening the door for the prophet Elijah while singing “Chad Gadya.” A Passover sleepover tops off the evening, as Nana wraps them in blankets, kisses their foreheads, and sings to them while rain gently taps on the window.

More Than Enough, told in spare melodic prose with the word “dayenu” recurring as a refrain throughout, is a lovely reminder to be wholly present and open to the blessings offered to us each moment of every day. Any one of this family’s experiences would have been more than enough to be thankful for; their joy at being blessed with so many gifts will inspire readers to take the time to slow down, heighten awareness, and express gratitude for things often taken for granted.


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