hotTEAs of Children’s Poetry: Guadalupe Garcia McCall

I am a wife and mother of three grown men who will always be my boys! I love to read anything and everything! I have three books out, UNDER THE MESQUITE (Lee & Low Books, 2011) is a contemporary novel-in-verse, SUMMER OF THE MARIPOSAS (Tu Books, 2012), is a fantasy featuring creatures from Mexican mythology, and the upcoming SHAME THE STARS (Tu Books, 2016) is a historical set in 1915 Texas during the Mexican Revolution.


☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: A good cup of instant Mexican coffee, not too strong, not too mild. With sprinkle of sweetener and a bit of cream. It will wake me up and give me the fortitude to sit down and write!

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Summer of the Mariposas (Tu Books, 2012); Under the Mesquite (Lee & Low Books, 2011); The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books, 2014). Forthcoming: My new book, SHAME THE STARS, is due for publication in September 2016 from Tu Books and I couldn’t be more excited!



☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Sip, Slurp, Soup, Soup, Caldo, Caldo, Caldo! by Diane Gonzalez Bertrand and Alex Pardo Delange (Piñata Books, 2008) is my favorite food related book because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a good bowl of caldo. Caldo has the power to warm even the coldest heart!

☕ Visit Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Official Website.

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Check out this student video of Guadalupe’s poem “Cicada” from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science:


☕☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Book Trailer for Summer of the Mariposas!


☕☕☕☕ STILL THIRSTY: Wonderful video of Guadalupe discussing the genesis and development of Summer of the Mariposas, which was selected for the 2015 Spirit of Texas Reading Program:



Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

hotTEAs of Children’s Poetry: Matt Forrest Esenwine and Greg Pincus

Coffee, tea, or . . .

Wait a minute!

Is there a rebel in our midst?

Still, there’s nothing hotter than a grown man drinking a steamy beverage from a cute mug.

Gives new meaning to the term “mug shot” doesn’t it? 🙂

Matt Forrest Esenwine is a New Hampshire-based poet, voiceover artist and commercial copywriter who’s written radio commercials and done audio production for companies around the country. In 2012, his poem “Apple-Stealing” was nominated by the Young Adult Review Network (YARN) for a Puschcart Prize. At various times throughout his life, he’s also been an actor, DJ, country dance instructor, cook, and photography sales dude. He’s pictured here holding his favorite SNOOPY MUG, which he’s had since age 6 (photo by Matt’s wife Jen).


☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: “Earl Grey, preferably Twinings of London or Bigelow, with no sugar, no milk, no lemon. However, now that it’s springtime, I’m looking forward to firing up my iced tea brewing machine – and Stash makes some awesome teas perfect for ice, like their Red, White, and Blueberry tea!”

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESS: Poems in Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte (CreateSpace, 2015), The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations: Holiday Poems for the Whole Year in English and Spanish, selected by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books, 2015), and Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins (Abrams, 2015). 

☕ Visit Matt’s blog Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme and his Official Website, Matt Forrest VoiceWorks

☕☕ Enjoy Matt’s tea poem (can you guess what kind of tea he’s referring to?):

Black Dragon

Steam-breathed beast
touches light the ginger flower;
savors third steeping

© 2015, Matt Forrest Esenwine. All rights reserved.

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Greg Pincus is a Los Angeles-based poet, novelist, screenwriter, volunteer elementary school librarian, and social media consultant. He’s also a blogger, writing about children’s literature and poetry at GottaBook and the social web at The Happy Accident. Through the wonders of social media, he’s sold poetry, helped himself land a book deal, ended up in the New York Times, the Washington Post, School Library Journal (multiple times), and many other interesting places… and also made friends and gotten free cookies on more than one occasion! Wonder what’s in his SEUSS THING 1 mug?


☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: Coffee. Coffee???!!! 😳 (There’s one of them at every party.)

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESS: The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013)

☕ Visit Greg’s Official Website and GottaBook blog.

☕☕ Take a sip of Greg’s, um . . .  er, coffee poem (java lava?):


“This tastes like mud!” my father said.
“There should have been a warning!”
I thought there was. The menu said,
“Our coffee’s ground each morning.”

~ © 2007 Greg Pincus. All rights reserved.


We are, if nothing else, an equal opportunity hot beverage blog. 🙂

When you’re hot, you’re hot.

Thanks for steeping with us this month, and thanks to all the HotTEAs of Children’s Poetry for packing the heat!

See them all here. 🙂


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

hotTEAS of Children’s Poetry: David L. Harrison and Charles Waters

Is it just me, or is it hotter than blue blazes around here?

David L. Harrison is the Christopher Award winning author of more than 70 books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry that have sold over 15 million copies and earned numerous honors. David’s work has been presented on national television and radio, produced on cassette and CD-ROM, widely anthologized in books, and published in many magazines and professional journals. (photo taken by David’s wife Sandy at their home in Springfield, MO)


☕ Cuppa of Choice: “I’m strictly a Lipton’s man.”

☕ Hot Off the Press: Cowboys: Voices in the Western Wind (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2012), illustrated by Dan Burr.

☕ Visit David L. Harrison’s Official Website

☕☕ Sip this poem David wrote just for us:



I took my Folgers
To my chair
In hopes my muse
Would meet me there.

Alas the date
Was not to be,
My muse preferred
Her Lipton’s tea.

I’m brilliant now,
Don’t wish to brag,
The secret was in
The Lipton’s bag.

~ Copyright © 2015 David L. Harrison. All rights reserved.


Charles Waters is a NYC-based poet, actor and educator whose work has been featured in several anthologies. Charles conducts his one man show POETRY TIME, as well as poetry performance workshops for elementary and middle school audiences all over the nation, while seamlessly incorporating the Common Core Curriculum. He has performed in more than 30 states from Alaska to Louisiana to New York. He has also worked with several theatre touring companies and has appeared in television commercials.
(photos by Carlos Vizcaino/GustOrganics)


☕ Cuppa of Choice: “One of my favorite kinds of tea is Green Tea. Power packed and good for you. Sometimes I may put almond milk in it as well as agave. The restaurant where I bought the tea is GustOrganics, which is located in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. They serve organic vegan cuisines. I don’t go there often, but when I do, it’s happy time. Don’t get me started on their Tiramisu! Happy Tea Drinking, Everyone!”

☕ Hot Off the Press: Poems in Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems, edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte (CreateSpace, 2015), and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations: Holiday Poems for the Whole Year in English and Spanish, compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books, 2015). 

☕ Visit Charles Waters’s Official Website and Blog. You can also find him at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

☕☕ Lap up this poem Charles wrote just for us:


Sipping tea, you and me,

Gazing at the sparkling sea

We are now a family,

Holding hands, breath to breath,

There’s no place I’d rather be.

Copyright © 2015 Charles Waters. All rights reserved.


Be still my heart. I need to go lie down and cool off.

Cabana boys, fan me with palm fronds.

♥ More hotTEAs of Children’s Poetry here.


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

HotTEAs of Children’s Poetry: Charles Ghigna and Lee Bennett Hopkins

Double your oven mitts, double your fun! (A natty flame-proof suit wouldn’t hurt either.)

Charles Ghigna (“Father Goose”) is an award winning poet, author, speaker and nationally syndicated feature writer.
Tea time in his Alabama tree-house (photos by Debra Ghigna).

☕ Cuppa of Choice: “I love tea! I drink a cup of hot green tea nearly every day. One of my favorites is Uncle Lee’s 100% Organic Green Tea. I brew two tea bags in a cup of hot water and sometimes add a squeeze of lemon. I also love to play Tea Party on the porch with our four-year-old granddaughter, Charlotte Rose. She always makes sure I hold up my pinkie just right.” 😉

☕ Hot Off the Press: Springtime Weather Wonders Series (Hail to Spring!, Raindrops Fall All Around, Sunshine Brightens Springtime, A Windy Day in Spring (Picture Window Books, 2015).

☕ Visit Charles Ghigna’s Official Website

☕ ☕ ☕ Lovely poem Charles wrote for his wife (his favorite HotTEA):



for Debra

Like tea bag paper,
gauzy and thin,
we steep in the dark
letting love in.

The longer we steep,
the stronger the brew;
tea party perfect,
in love with you.

~ copyright © Charles Ghigna. All rights reserved.


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Lee Bennett Hopkins is an award winning author, poet, editor, anthologist and the recipient of the Christopher Award and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Medallion for “lasting contributions to children’s literature.”
Tea Time at home in Cape Coral, Florida (photos by C. Egita).

☕ Cuppa of Choice: “Tea, a drink I adore . . . I like varied teas, but particularly Twinings of London Ceylon Orange Pekoe.”

☕ Hot Off the Press: Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby, illustrated by Alyssa Nassner (Abrams, 2015). 

☕ Visit Lee Bennett Hopkins’s Official Website


♥ More HotTEAs of Children’s Poetry here.


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

national poetry month kidlitosphere events

poetry month 2013 logo

Looking for some cool ways to celebrate National Poetry Month during April? Check out for all kinds of great resources for teachers, students, librarians and poetry lovers of all ages.

This year, the Academy of American Poets is celebrating the role that correspondence has played in poets’ development and writing lives. In the spirit of Rainer Maria Rilke‘s Letters to a Young Poet, in which Rilke replies to letters from a young military cadet and aspiring poet asking for his advice, they are inviting students to engage with poetry by handwriting letters to some of the poets who serve on the Academy’s Board of Chancellors. Find out more about the Dear Poet Project here.

You can also find a Spring Book List, information about Poem in Your Pocket Day (April 18th), “30 Ways to Celebrate Poetry Month,” and a Calendar of Events taking place around the country.

Here’s a list of what some of the kidlit bloggers are doing. If you’re also planning something special for April, or know of anyone else who is, please mention it in the comments or email me: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, so I can add it here. Thanks!

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30poets30Days_2013For the 5th consecutive year, Greg Pincus will be hosting 30 Poets/30 Days at GottaBook. Look for an original, previously unpublished poem by a different children’s poet every day of the month. You can visit his blog, have the poems sent to you via email, or follow his Twitter feed for daily links.

progressive poem badgeIrene Latham at Live Your Poem has recruited 30 poets for her second annual Kidlit Progressive Poem. This is a wonderful community writing project where each day the poem travels from blog to blog, with the poet host adding a line. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater will kick things off on April 1 at The Poem Farm (click above link for full schedule).

 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is presenting Poetry A-Z. For the first 26 days of the month she’ll be highlighting poetic forms, specific poems, books of poetry, and poets according to letter. For the last 4 days she’s created a set of “acrostic” themed posts with some additional thoughts on poetry.

♥ Jone at Check It Out is doing her annual Poetry Postcard Project. Her students will be sending out illustrated poetry postcards to anyone requesting them. I’ve done this twice and really enjoyed receiving a surprise poem in the mail. She’ll also be posting student poetry every day during April at her blog. Click here to sign up to receive a postcard if you haven’t already done so.

The always adventurous Laura Shovan is featuring “Welcome to the Technoverse” at Author Amok, a series of guest posts about tech-savvy poetry (writing support programs, poetry apps, inspiring websites, savvy poetry list-servs or blogs, etc.). Learn about some new resources to help jump start your poetry!

Laura Purdie Salas will share Poem Starter videos all month long at Writing the World for Kids. These short videos, featuring many poems/poets from the Kidlitosphere, are geared for teachers to use with their elementary school students.

30daisiesHeidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe has thought of another community writing project idea: 30 Days 30 Words. She will post a single beginning word on April 1, and invite readers to leave suggestions for the next word of the poem in the comments. On April 2 she will post the first word + her choice of the second word, and again readers leave ideas for the 3rd word of the poem. On April 3, she will post what has become a three-word cumulative, collaborative poem, and again wait for suggestions for the 4th word — and so on, until an entire 30-word poem emerges by the end of the month. Sounds fun, no?

mary lee logoGet ready to write in response to some cool media poetry prompts courtesy of Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. With “Common Inspiration-Uncommon Creations,” she will offer new inspiration every day along with teaching ideas and drafts of poems she’s completed in response to the prompts — maybe even share a finished poem or two or three!

♥ We’ll get more insight into how Amy Ludwig VanDerwater “grows poems” at The Poem Farm with her interesting project, Drawing into Poems. Each day of the month, she’s going to slow down, look closely at something, draw it, and take notes around her drawing. She’ll photograph and share the drawing and notes each day. From time to time, mostly on Fridays, she’ll share a poem inspired by her drawings and notes. The purpose of this project is to help her see more clearly and to help her linger on images.

♥ Look for a poetry-related post every day at Linda Baie’s TeacherDance — original poems, reviews of poetry books and other musings. Linda will also be participating in the Kidlit Progressive Poem (April 10) as well as other online PM events.

Matt Forrest Esenwine will post original poems every Friday and news and information about poetry on Tuesdays throughout April at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. He writes some really good stuff, so don’t miss any of his posts!

♥ It’s not too late to submit a book spine poem to 100 Scope Notes. Travis Jonker continues his annual tradition of collecting and posting all submissions throughout April. Check out this post for tips and samples of book spine centos.

Tamera Will Wissinger has a busy month planned. Each week she’ll be featuring a different poetic form on her blog, and on April 18, will post a feature article for Verse Daily. Check out this post for her complete schedule, which includes appearances at other blogs, including GottaBook, Caroline by line and Society of Young Inklings.

♥ Get set for a full month of fabulous guest posts at Caroline Starr Rose’s blog, Caroline by line. She has invited poets, authors, readers and teachers to discuss their experiences with poetry. Jennifer Gennari will kick things off on April 3 with, “Opening the Heart of Characters Through Poetry.” Other guest bloggers include Lee Wardlaw, Paul Janeczko, Roseanne Parry, Jessica Bell, and Augusta Scattergood. Caroline will post the full schedule on Tuesday, April 2, and there’ll also be a very cool giveaway!

Sylvia Vardell will be featuring “Blasts from the Poetry Past” at Poetry for Children. These daily snippets will look backward at the history of poetry for young people. Over at the Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School blog, she’s featuring poem movies: homemade digital films that offer artistic interpretations of several of the poems in The Poetry Friday Anthology (6-8). These short, original, one-minute mini-movies were created by grad students enrolled in Sylvia’s “Poetry for Children and Young Adults” class at Texas Woman’s University.

Diane Mayr at Random Noodling will be going artsy for Poetry Month, posting an ekphrastic poem every Monday during April. (Ekphrastic poems comment upon other art forms — for example, a poem about a painting or a photograph.)

♥ Hopeless romantics, do not miss Kelly Ramsdell Fineman’s salute to sonnets this month at Writing and Ruminating. That’s right — she’ll be posting a different sonnet each and every day, with brilliant commentary and insightful analysis — lots of opportunity for unabashed swooning and improving your understanding of all that is beautiful, fascinating and fabulous about the 14-line form. She kicked things off on April 1 with Wordsworth’s “Scorn Not the Sonnet.”

♥ Amy at Mrs. Merrill’s Book Break is celebrating Poetry Month by sharing photos, poems, and poetry-love tidbits from both her school and personal poetry life.

♥ Happy to report that Elaine Magliaro is posting once again at Wild Rose Reader. She’ll continue her Poetry Month tradition of giving away a different children’s poetry book each week, so be sure to drop by often and leave your comments to be eligible for the prizes!

♥ Our tireless poetry video queen Renée LaTulippe has lined up an impressive guest roster at No Water River. I’m really looking forward to seeing videos and Snickerviews™  with the likes of these incredibly talented poets:

George Ella Lyon
Michael Salinger
Heidi Bee Roemer
David L. Harrison
Joy Acey
Ted Scheu
Leslie Bulion
Heidi Mordhorst
Julie Larios
Janet Wong
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Kate Coombs
Joyce Sidman
Lee Bennett Hopkins


♥ The indefatigable April Halprin Wayland will once again write a poem every day for the entire month. This will be her fourth year undertaking this Poem-A-Day challenge, for which she’s already written over 1,000 poems. Check her site daily for a new canine-related poem and a writing prompt. April’s poems in April — what could be nicer?

BEST Eli reading 1-27-13 (5)
The very literate Eli — April’s muse?

Catherine Johnson is also taking the Poem-a-Day plunge. She’ll be posting some holiday pics as prompts. This way, we’ll get to learn about her travels as well as see how she crystallizes those experiences in poetic form. 🙂

Joy Acey is certainly no stranger to writing poems every single day; come April 20, she’ll be celebrating her second anniversary of doing just that (so far having completed over 700 poems!) at Poetry for Kids Joy. She’ll continue to post daily poems for children throughout April, in addition to offering challenges and discussing more poetry forms.

Anastasia Suen has just started a new poetry blog! She’ll be posting a poem every day during April and beyond. She’s just posted her inaugural poem, “Spring Cleaning.”

Margaret at Reflections on the Teche has a very busy month planned. With her students, she’ll be writing a poem every day using a different poetic form for each letter of the alphabet. They plan to try ghazals, pantoums, ekphrasis and sonnets for a start.

♥ Andi Sibley at A Wrung Sponge will be making daily rounds of poetry blogs and commenting as often as possible in addition to posting daily haiku with photos on Twitter. Follow her – @AndiSibley, and use hashtags #npm or #haiku.

♥ Susan Taylor Brown  has chosen to work on a Mentor Project. Each day during April, she’ll select a poem, then model her poem after it. She kicked things off on April 1 with her version of William Carlos Williams’s, “This is Just to Say.” This is a good exercise for those intimidated by writing their own poems, and she encourages everyone to join her!

♥ Liz Garton Scanlon is continuing with her lovely practice of posting a haiku (with photos!) every day during Poetry Month. Follow along on her LiveJournal blog Liz in Ink, Facebook or Twitter. She’s invited readers to write their own haiku in the comments and promises prizes at the end of April.

♥ The inimitable Tanita S. Davis is serving up mostly haiku at her blog during April with thoughtful commentary that reveals her inspiration and provides a context for her verse. A good glimpse into how this poet’s mind works :).

♥ In the spirit of Ed DeCaria’s March Madness, Habitual Rhymer Lori Degman plans to write poems based on random words suggested by her Facebook friends. Thus far: supercalifragilisticexpealidocious, lackadaisical and superlative. Tough crowd!

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9Donna at Mainely Write will be writing a poem or more a day as part of the A-Z Challenge. Her theme this year is lobster boats (with photos)!

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♥ Finally, don’t forget to check in with the April Poetry Friday hosts to see what other bloggers are sharing:

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♥ ♥ I’ll continue to update this Roundup all during April, so do check back! Remember, as you’re cruising around the web, you can always check in at Kidlitosphere Central for Poetry Month news and updates.

This year’s official Poetry Month poster is such a beauty. It was created by Jessica Helfand, and features the line, “Write about your sorrows, your wishes, your passing thoughts, your belief in anything beautiful,” from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. Click here to order your free poster.



Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.