Choosing which poems to read

Hi everyone,

At the Notable Poetry Books panel presentation on Saturday I’ll have time to talk about ways teachers can put poetry to work in the classroom and then read one or two poems from CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS. I’ve been trying to decide on which poems to choose. I’m looking at these three. Help me rank them.

Camouflage Class

Today in class
our teacher said
to change colors,
play dead,
stay so still
we disappear.

One kid went
too far
we fear.

He’s gone
a trace
behind him.

We’ve called
and looked,
but we can’t
find him.

(c) 2018 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved

Horsefly Grade Card:
Doesn’t Play Well with Others

In my heart
I know, of course,
it isn’t nice
to bite a horse.

They’ve tried to teach me
but after school,
as you can guess,

Even thought
I feel remorse,
I must go out
and bite a horse.

(c) 2018 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved

What’s Left of Termite Class

Today at school
we ate some snacks —
pointers, posters,
pictures, plaques,
pansy petals,
ballpoint pens,
puppet piggies,
play-dough hens,
purple plastic
pansy pots,
pencils, paste,
and paper dots —

We ate the walls
and foundation,
hungry for more

(c) 2018 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved

The waiting game

Hi everyone,

This week I got a positive response to a new manuscript so now I wait for a final decision after it goes to committee. Of course there’s a big difference between a good response and a contract offer, but a submission rarely goes to committee unless the editor likes it. In the meantime I have plenty to do while I wait.

Tomorrow Kate Cosgrove, who illustrated AND THE BULLFROGS SING, will give a book talk about our title at Schuler Books and Music in Okemos, Michigan. Wish I could be there to hear her. If you haven’t seen the book, which came out in May, I hope you’ll find a copy soon. After a new book is released it’s hard to keep the initial buzz going without boring friends half to death.

Here’s what Schuler says about Kate.

Kate Cosgrove is an illustrator and artist from Michigan. She received a BFA with honors from Michigan State University. Kate’s illustrations have been published in all kinds of print and web media. She has exhibited in galleries and online, with collectors across the United States, Australia, Canada, Colombia, England, France and Switzerland. Cosgrove illustrated ‘Family Album,’ a children’s album by the hit rock band The Verve Pipe. In 2011 she was awarded an Arts Council Individual Artist Grant for her child-friendly art show “Animal ArtVenture,” hosted by the Lansing Art Gallery.

She says of her art, “I was born into a family where everyone makes something: art, music, food, clothing, noise, a mess… I found I like to make messes and art at a very early age. I expect to keep doing both until I draw my last breath. I’m a lucky girl.”

And the Bullfrogs Sing: A Life Cycle Begins Cover Image
And the Bullfrogs Sing: A Life Cycle Begins (Hardcover)
By David L. Harrison, Kate Cosgrove (Illustrator)$17.99
ISBN: 9780823438341
Published: Holiday House – May 21st, 2019
Available through Schuler and at

We have a storm heading this way tonight. Hoping for good luck.

Wild in the Streets by Marilyn Singer

Hi everyone,

I know I’m not the first to mention Marilyn Singer’s newest book of poetry, WILD IN THE STREETS, 20 POEMS OF CITY ANIMALS, but my copy only arrived yesterday. I read it before I went to bed last night and this is my first opportunity to brag on my friend’s work.
This one falls in the category of books “I wish I’d written,” which is the best kind of flattery I know to give. If you follow my tales of Goose Lake, you know my fascination with animals that live among us in our communities. Marilyn shares that interest and goes a huge step farther by writing about animals that live in other cities around the globe such as deer in Nara, Japan; pythons in Singapore; coyotes in Chicago; and falcons in New York City. Here’s a stanza from her poem about millions of Mexican free-tailed bats that roost by day below a famous bridge in Austin, Texas and swoop off in enormous living clouds by night.

Over the wide bridge
people passing. Underneath
spry bats amassing.

Not only that, Marilyn provides in fascinating prose the back story about each species and why/how it comes to flourish where it does. Kids and adults will love the surprising variety of city dwellers that either have moved to town or live where they’ve always lived while we humans have built our communities around them.

What I always enjoy about Marilyn Singer’s books is that she works seriously at her craft. You never get anything trite or sing-song in her offerings. You get variety that distinguishes her writings from the fare dished up in too many purported books of poems for children. I love it that in WILD IN THE STREETS, she takes the time to explain the poetic forms she chose to use in this collection. They include examples of triolet, haiku, her own reverse, cinquain, acrostic, sonnet, terze rima, and villanelle.

So by all means get a copy of WILD IN THE STREETS. It’s illustrated by Gordy Wright and published by Quarto Publishing. A new book by Marilyn is always a time to celebrate.

An unexpected use of my work

Hi everyone,

CAVE DETECTIVES is the true story of how a cave that came to be called Riverbluff Cave was discovered by a road crew on September 11, 2001. The cave contains the oldest ice age fossils ever found on the North American continent. When the book was published, it became a Junior Library Guild Selection. In 2013 it was selected by the Springfield Missouri Park Board to be one of the items most representative of the Ozark region to be placed in a 100-year time capsule as part of the Centennial Celebration of park system.

Yesterday I received a query seeking permission to reprint a passage from one of my nonfiction books, CAVE DETECTIVES. If we can agree on terms, the excerpt will appear in a free online resource called “Text Dependent Analysis Sampler,” which would be available to all educators and students throughout that particular state. The purpose of a TDA is to pose questions that require students to “synthesize answers based on specific evidence within a reading passage and demonstrate their ability to interpret the meaning behind that evidence.” I’m delighted to be asked. This would be the second state to use something from the book in this way.

Passages from CAVE DETECTIVES have also been used twice before in a third state for 5th grade editions of school assessment tests. The most recent use in that capacity involved 139,000 copies in print and 4,500 copies online.

Apparently this is kind of use isn’t something you seek. They find you. One of my contacts said he wasn’t sure how they found me, my work, or this particular book. I hope “they” keep finding me in other states!

Something About the Author

Hi everyone,

I’ve received a new update to the information published about me in SOMETHING ABOUT THE AUTHOR. A complete redo of older articles came out last year in Volume 318 so there wasn’t a lot for the research writer to do but essentially add what has happened recently. The piece runs a dozen pages and includes all of my books, including 11 I wrote using the pen name Kennon Graham, several pages of reviews, and another page and a half of biographical and critical sources. I’m asked to respond to several questions: —What first got you interested in writing?
—Who or what particularly influences your work?
—Describe your writing process.
—What is the most surprising thing you have learned as a writer?
—Which of your books is your favorite and why?
—What kind of effect do you hope your books will have?
This article will come out in Volume 348. I’m not sure what year that will be. I’ll let you know when it comes out one of these days.