Playing with poetry

Hi everyone,

Mary Jo Fresch, my friend, co-presenter, and writing partner on several educational books, recently republished an article called “Playing with Poetry to Develop Phonemic Awareness” on Research Gate: This originally appeared on ILA e-ssentials and included some of the work we used when we wrote a five book set on this subject for Teacher Created Materials. I admit that Mary Jo wrote nearly all of this article but I “hepped” some.

The article has already been read more than 400 times, 23 in the last week. Way to go Mary Jo!


What’s coming next

Hi everyone,

I just read a nice article in 417 SPRINGFIELD MAGAZINE about three of my books: one just out, one coming soon, and one in the future. Here’s a link for anyone interested.

Also received pleasant news about this 1/2 page ad, which will appear in March issues of School Library Journal and Booklist. Congratulations to Lee Bennett Hopkins on his newest anthology. I look forward to reading it.

Missouri Reading Journal

Hi everyone,

I think I mentioned the article coming up in the fall issue of Missouri Reader but I forgot to tell you when the journal came out. I won’t print the whole piece here but this is how it starts.

The Missouri Reader
Vol. 40 / Issue 1 A publication of the
Fall 2016 Missouri State Council

David Harrison- For the Fun of It

“When I made up my first poem, I was hungry
and tired of waiting. My mother was frying fish
in the kitchen and I was sent to the living room
to wait for dinner. The words I thought of
expressed my need. I liked the way they
sounded. “Sometimes I wish/I had a fish/Upon a
little dish.” No one told me I had to make up a
poem. I was six-years-old. It was just a fun
thing to do. My mother taped the poem into my
scrapbook. High praise!

Seven decades later I’m still making up
poems. Kids ask why I climb out of bed at 6:00
a.m. to settle into my daily writing routine. The
reason hasn’t changed. It’s a fun thing to do.
Writing poems makes me feel good. Writing
well is neither simple nor easy, but it provides
me with a sense of gratification that drives my
desire to do it again.”

Versions of the article have appeared in New England Reading Journal and are scheduled for Arizona Reading Journal and California Reading Journal in their next issues.

From a reviewer’s point of view

Hi everyone,

I read an article by a reviewer on page 31 of Sunday’s New York Times Book Review section. It’s by Alice Gregory, a contributing editor at Times Style Magazine. For those of us who have at one time or another felt the lash of an invisible reviewer protected by the system from ever having to face the author he or she has just savaged, I’m grateful to Ms. Gregory for her insight and unusual apology. She leads off with, “I am saying, to the authors of books I’ve reviewed even just a few years ago, that I’m sorry.” She concludes by clarifying, “I don’t think I was unfair to those books, but I do think I was unfair to the people who wrote them. There is a difference, and I am inclined to acknowledge it in a way that I once, even quite recently, was not.”

A point Ms. Gregory makes is that she began reviewing when she was 23 and for the first few years “…labored under the delusion that it didn’t matter whether or not I knew anything at all.” She goes on to say that she critiqued nonfiction books on topics she didn’t know well and fiction books by authors she hadn’t read before. The line of reasoning leads her to conclude that in the early days she tended to deal with the book in her hand and pay too little attention to the fact that she was “engaging with the product of someone else’s time and effort and intellect.”

She makes no apology for not liking certain books, nor should she. But growing on the job has taught her that it’s one thing to not like someone’s book and quite another to abuse the person who worked in good faith to create it.

Naturally Alice Gregory doesn’t speak for all reviewers, but I appreciated her perspective and learned something about the business of reviewing that I’d only suspected before.