[review+ recipe + giveaway] Fresh-Picked Poetry by Michelle Schaub and Amy Huntington

In just about a month, the farmers’ markets in our area will open for the season. Hooray! 🙂

Can’t wait to wrap my lips around a juicy ripe strawberry, fix myself a crisp garden salad with baby lettuces, cucumber, radishes, green peppers, carrots, and cherry tomatoes, and dribble some local golden honey on a warm biscuit. I can just about smell the sweet, rejuvenating scent of ripe peaches and the aroma of freshly baked breads, cookies and muffins, and I can picture the colorful bouquets of Spring blooms.

Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market by Michelle Schaub and Amy Huntington, is just what we need to get us in the mood for the delicious bounty that awaits us. Michelle and Amy capture all the tantalizing sights, smells, sounds, and flavors of a bustling farmers’ market with 18 sprightly, sensory-rich poems and delightful, animated pictures packed with charming details.

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[review + recipe+ giveaway] Princess and the Peas by Rachel Himes

Mmmmmm! Don’t mean to make you jealous (yes, I do!), but I’ve got a pot of black-eyed peas simmering on the stove.

Just a little while ago, I fried a little bacon (oh, yes!), put it aside, then sautéed some chopped onion and celery in the drippings. After the onion and celery were happy-happy, I added them to my pot of pre-soaked peas (hello). Now everybody’s gently bubbling together until it’s time to serve them up. Stick around, cause I’ll share a bowl with you right after I tell you about this delectable new picture book.

Debut author/illustrator Rachel Himes has cooked up some plucky mouthwatering magic in Princess and the Peas (Charlesbridge, 2017), a 50’s spin-off of the classic fairy tale.

But don’t expect a hyper-sensitive princess or a pile of mattresses in a faraway kingdom. Himes takes us straight to Charleston County, South Carolina where food, family, and love reign supreme.

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2017 National Poetry Month Kidlitosphere Events Roundup


Did you know that National Poetry Month is “the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K-12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, bloggers, and, of course, poets marking poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives every April”? And 2017 marks the 21st Anniversary of NPM!

Visit poets.org for the full scoop on how you can participate, including 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month, Poem in Your Pocket Day (April 27, 2017), Poem-a-Day, and especially for students and teachers, the Dear Poet Project. Check the state-by-state listings to find poetry-related events near you.

Now, here’s a list of what some kidlit bloggers are doing. If you’re also celebrating Poetry Month with a special project or blog event, or know of anyone else who is, please leave a comment here or email me: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, so I can add the information to this Roundup. Thanks!

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🌺 Hooray, it’s Progressive Poem time again! Irene Latham at Live Your Poem has recruited 30 poets for her sixth annual Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. This is a wonderful community writing project where a poem travels daily from blog to blog, with each host adding a new line. Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe is kicking things off on April 1. This year’s goal is to create a poem for children. Here’s the full schedule of participating bloggers:

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Rush MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids


🌼 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem will also be featuring ARTSPEAK!, the poem-a-day project she started during 2015 in which she responds to images found in the online collection at the National Gallery of Art. This year she will focus on PORTRAITS, also accessing the Google Arts and Culture site for some of her subjects.


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in which i share two excessively entertaining alphabet books

#54 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Few things are more delightful than discovering good alphabet books, and by “good,” I mean those that have original hooks, are a little quirky, do justice to the tricky letters ‘q’ ‘x’, and ‘z’, and compel me to take a second and third look. Because there are so many alphabet books out there already, creators have to be extra clever and innovative. Here’s one that celebrates pasta under the big top, and another that’s alphabetically effusive in ways too numerous to count.

Juana Medina admits she ate a lot of pasta while making ABC Pasta: An Entertaining Alphabet (Viking, 2017). What could be better than an alphabet good enough to eat?! Love the circus theme and meeting all 26 of the perky performers, who gambol, juggle, race, pirouette, and cavort through the pages with the greatest of ease.

Medina created them using real photographs of pasta-related foods incorporated into zesty digital drawings, and they are introduced with temptingly toothsome alliterative phrases, fun-to-read tongue twisters that are quite a mouthful.

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for women’s history month: “What They Did by Lamplight” by Kimberly Blaeser

“For most of history Anonymous was a woman.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“Woman Ironing” by Edgar Degas (1887)

And for most of history, Anonymous was doing all the housework.

Can you think of any unpaid activity as tedious, thankless or relentless? You know how the saying goes — nobody notices when you clean your house, they only notice when you don’t. There are so many things I’d rather do than dust, scrub, wash or vacuum.

And yet, I see how the routine of doing household chores is reassuring and makes me feel secure (at least I have a house to take care of!!). With so much in this life out of my control, polishing my favorite tea table, putting books away on their shelves, cleaning out the fridge — these are ways of making order out of chaos. These are things I can control.

Tasks like ironing can even be meditative, giving my brain a chance to rest, my mind the freedom to wander, reflect, imagine. And I have to admit that unloading the dishwasher can be pleasurable, because I love my dishes — I handpicked each plate, cup, bowl and platter. I love seeing the beauty in practical objects.:)

When I first read Kimberly Blaeser’s poem, I was reminded of the debt we owe to those women who came before us, who steadfastly kept the home fires burning while their spouses went out to be SOMEBODY. For those women who didn’t — or couldn’t aspire to careers outside the home, or whose lives were measured by how many towels were folded on any given day, or how many mouths they had to feed and feed and feed — I have renewed respect and admiration.

For in the midst of seeming drudgery, these women found ways to be creative while being productive. Blaeser’s cool concrete poem is also a list poem — a list of ways these women practiced patience and forbearance, displayed ingenuity, resourcefulness and versatility, and embraced the domestic sphere over which they alone reigned supreme. Even though they remain Anonymous to us, for the ones they took care of, the ones who loved them, they were truly SOMEBODY.

“Three Women at the Table by the Lamp” by August Macke (1912)


by Kimberly Blaeser

Clean rice, handstitch
make pies, roll jingles
patch jeans, shake dice
clean fish, roll cigarettes
read from The Farmer
Braid rugs, mend nets, tell stories
write letters, bead, cut quilt squares
boil swamp tea, deliver their babies.
Darn socks, peel potatoes, drink coffee
shuffle cards, cut hair, can tomatoes
sift flour, bead, sing church songs.
Scrub socks, gossip.
sing country songs
make tobacco ties
braid sweet grass
prepare their dead.
Beat frosting
crack nuts
depill sweaters
wipe their tears.
Search penny jar for old coins
shell peas, cut birchbark patterns
thread matching buttons together.
Build fire, make soap, join their hands
knead bread, read seed catalogues, smoke
slice apples, squeeze color into margarine.
Change diapers, shuck corn, soak beans
rock their children, boil water, crochet doilies
clean sunflower seeds, can dill pickles.
Sharpen knives, eat, iron
dance together
nurse their babies
remember their dead.

~ from Sweeping Beauty: Contemporary Women Poets Do Housework, edited by Pamela Gemin (University of Iowa Press, 2005).


The lovely and talented Catherine Flynn is hosting the Roundup at Reading to the Core. Tap dance on over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week.

Note: I’m collecting links for a Kidlitosphere Poetry Month Roundup again, so if you’re doing something special on your blog, please submit your information by the end of next week via a comment on this blog or by sending me an email: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Appreciate your helping to spread the word, too. Thanks!


“There is, I suppose, no occupation in the world which has an influence on the efficiency and happiness of the members of nearly all other occupations so continuous and so permeating as that of the working housewife and mother.” ~ Eleanor Rathbone

Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.