Last suggestions and an update

Hi everyone,

This morning at nine o’clock central standard time I’ll zoom with LAURA ROBB on an interview with SAM (DR. SAM) BOMMARITO to be posted on his excellent blog at sometime soon. During his 50 year career in education Sam taught every grade K through graduate school. Bommarito is retired from full time teaching but continues to be active in the literacy world. He is Co-Editor of the Missouri Reader, he has served  on various International Literacy Association boards/committees, and is a past president of both the St. Louis and the Missouri ILA boards. For our interview we’ll be discussing our book for Corwin, GUIDED PRACTICE FOR READING GROWTH, which is written to support reading improvement for students who have fallen seriously behind their reading level.

When I reported the other day that THE DIRT BOOK has been named by the New York City Public Libraries to its annual list of best books for children, I think I mentioned that the list contains 145 books for all genres Yesterday I look more carefully and learned that there are only six books of poetry on the list: by Joyce Sidman, David L. Harrison, Nikki Grimes, Pablo Bernasconi, Maria Jose Ferrada, and Ibi Zoboi.

I’m going to add a few more title suggestions for my holiday list and move on. Like those posted yesterday for older kids, these have all won something and/or been on state or national reading lists. I’ll start with a pair of nonfiction poetry collections, COWBOYS and PIRATES, illustrated magnificently by DAN BURR. These books present fact-based poems about the life and times of the namesakes, with back notes that provide further information as well as a bibliography for additional reading.

CAVE DETECTIVES is about a real cave discovered in Springfield, Missouri on 9-11 and how, during a thorough exploration, it slowly revealed its secrets. It contains some of the oldest ice age fossils of any cave on the North American continent. I felt privileged to write this book and am proud to say that a copy of it was buried in a 100-year time capsule in a city part.

MAMMOTH BONES AND BROKEN STONES tells the story of the search for who we are. Where did we come from? When? How? There have been a number of answers suggested from the findings of archaeologists in both North and South America. I am especially happy with how the book turned out. This one is for an older reader or a precocious student with a good vocabulary and an interest in science.

Thanks for the picture, Nathan Papes, Springfield News-Leader

I’m going to stop here. If anyone has a question about anything else of mine, let me know. I hope these lists are useful. With warmest wishes for Christmas and the holiday season, David.

For older children…

Hi Everyone,

I was 49 when I decided to see if I could write poetry, 56 when my first collection, SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, was published. Kirkus gave it a starred review. Some of the poems, such as “Monday,” “Bobby Gene McQuig” (who gets his finger stuck up his nose), and “My Book,” went on to develop lives of their own. “My Book” was chosen by the wife of the (then) governor of Arizona to be sandblasted into the sidewalk of The Children’s Garden at the Burton Barr Main Library in Phoenix and the library in Pueblo, Colorado had it painted around the outside of a bookmobile that serves children in out-of-the-way areas. The book, published 28 years ago by Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong, has long been out of print, but I still like it and recommend it for kids in grades 1-4. To smile over Betsy Lewin’s inimitable artwork alone is worth the trouble of finding a copy.

Between SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK and my most recent book of poems, THE DIRT BOOK, twenty other collections have been published by Boyds Mills, Charlesbridge, and Holiday House. Here are a few of them. These titles have all won something and/or been on various state and national reading lists.

A Place to Start a Family: about the kinds of structures animals build in which to live, lay their eggs, or give birth to their young.

NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T: about animals that use their natural camouflage to hide or to hunt.

bugs, poems about creeping things: short, mostly humorous poems about insects and other small creatures. Example: A TICK'S FRIENDS. A tick/has/no friends./Therefore/my story/ends.

A few nonfiction titles

Hi everyone,

During a conversation I had in 1998 with KENT BROWN, founder/publisher of Boyds Mills Press, Kent asked what I’d like to write for BMP over the next five years. It didn’t take me long to decide. I started a rock and mineral collection when I was five years old living in Arizona — and still have it, in boxes in the basement — and my minor in undergraduate work was in geology, although I confess to sleeping through some of Dr. Ostrander’s classes (his voice was hypnotically monotone), I maintain my interest in geology. I told Kent I could do a series about how the Earth works: how mountains form and wear away over time, what caused the oceans, how rivers form, glaciers, volcanoes, earthquakes, caves. He thought it was a good idea so I set to work with my editor LARRY ROSLER. The artist CHERYL NATHAN agreed to do the illustrations and over the next five years we made seven books, collectively called EARTHWORKS. The first, CAVES, came out in 2001, the last one, GLACIERS, was published in 2006. The general age range for the series is grades 1-3.

Here’s how VOLCANOES begins.

Earth is never still.
Every day somewhere
it trembles and quivers.
Every day somewhere
volcanoes erupt
From far off
they look like
beautiful fireworks. 

But up close,
a volcano is no fun.
What looks like sparks
are fiery blobs
of melted rocks
called lava. 

Suggestions for older children

Hi everyone,

If the child you have in mind is a bit older, maybe kindergarten through 2nd grade or so, here are a few ideas.

If you’re looking for a book for an older child, I’ll give you a few options over the next two or three days. This first one was beautifully illustrated by the Italian artist, ROBERTA ANGARAMO and is called, A PERFECT HOME FOR A FAMILY. Mama Raccoon is expecting twins and doesn’t want to raise them in the big tree where they currently live. Too noisy. Too crowded. Mama and Papa set out in search of the perfect home for a family. They eventually find it, back where they started.

DYLAN THE EAGLE-HEARTED CHICKEN is the feather-raising tale of a baby chicken who is egg-napped at an early age by a balding old crow, who drops it (the egg) into a crow’s nest, in which the mother eagle attempts to raise the scrawny little “eagle” that hatches from the egg that suddenly drops into her nest. How Dylan manages to escape with his life and go on to save his real mother from a hungry fox makes this a good read-aloud story.

AND THE BULLFROGS SING presents the life cycle of bullfrogs in easy to understand language. From egg to adult, young readers learn the story of those loud-mouth creatures down by the water’s edge, croaking the night away calling for a mate. This popular book is illustrated by KATE COSGROVE, rising star artist who illustrated the recent DIRT BOOK and is winning accolades for her original work.

Three more books for the littles

Hi everyone,

My friend Deanna Schuler and her son

No one said to stop so here are three other titles that were created with the young ones. Today I’ll start with the most recent one, I WANT AN APPLE, HOW MY BODY WORKS.

A child wants an apple to eat and sets out to get one, eat it, and digest it. What is going on inside her body to make all this possible? This is science in the gentlest way and the illustrations of DAVID CATROW provide a smile on every page.

The quickest book I ever wrote was inspired by a Gary Lawson cartoon about cows in a field. While two stand in a field on third chatting on their hind legs, another stand watch by the road. When a car comes by, they all return to al fours as proper cows should, but when the car passes, they go back to what they were doing. Inspired by the idea of cows doing all sorts of things behind farmer’s back, I spent the rest of an afternoon writing WHEN COWS COME HOME. The delightful art of CHRIS DEMAREST is perfectly for the tale.

The Huffin Puff Express came out in 1974, priced at 29 cents as a Tell-a-Tale Book. It’s still available in a hard cover edition that came later. I checked to see if it still has an Amazon ranking and saw that it was 95,000 among children’s books so that seems pretty good for a 47-year-old book. Here are a few opening lines.T

The Huffin Puff Express is rolling,
Clickety, clickety-clack.
Its wheels are turning round and round,
Rumbling along the track.