Poems of the Week

My thanks to Charles Waters for beng my guest yesterday. Many of you have commented on the interview. For more information about Charles, here is his website. http://www.charleswaters.net

BULLETIN: Here’s a good opportunity for writers in Kansas and area states. It’s an upcomng Kansas SCBWI conference. One of the featured speakers is J.B. Cheaney who was one of the authors scheduled for the Writers Hall of Fame Missouri Author Tour, had it jelled.Upcoming event information:

Catching Fire 2010 Workshop – Fanning the Flames – Research Techniques, Interviewing & School Visits Mardel, Overland Park, KS
Date: 17 July 2010, Saturday 09:30 AM

Time is running out to sign up for this event. Check out the details below.
9:30 Welcomes, chat, stragglers

9:45 to 10:45 Kaite Stover will discuss efficient research techniques and how to utilize your friendly local library’s research experts

10:45-10:55 quick break

10:55 to 11:55 Lisa McCormick will offer offer tips to find the best experts and conduct painless, productive interviews

Lunch from noon to 1:15

1:15 to 2:15 JB Cheaney first half talk about how to dazzle during author visits

2:15 – 2:25 quick break

2:25 – 3:30 JB Chaney pt 2

Questions? Contact your Regional Advisor at ks_scbwi.org

More information and online registration: Catching Fire 2010 Workshop – Fanning the Flames – Research Techniques, Interviewing & School Visits

Since Kathy Temean first began posting one of my poems each Sunday, the number has grown considerably. In case you are interested in reviewing these or looking for some in particular, here is a list of all the poems posted so far and their source.

Date, Poem, Book
9-06-09 Butterfly, Farmer’s Garden

8-31-09 dragonfly, bugs, poems about creeping things
3-28-10 bookworm, bugs, poems about creeping things
5-2-10 Spider, bugs, poems about creeping things
6-6-10 Chigger, bugs, poems about creeping things

9-18-09 Friends, Partner Poems

9-13-09 Two Frogs and a Witch, The Book of Giant Stories
10-25-09 Giant Named Groans, The Book of Giant Stories

9-27-09 Swimsuits, Vacation
2-21-10 Vacation, Vacation

10-05-09 Jarrett Junior High School, Connecting Dots
10-20-09 Goodbye Picture, Connecting Dots
1-03-10 Away from Camp, Connecting Dots
2-07-10 Kryptonite Blues, Connecting Dots
5-30-10 Mysterious Birds, Connecting Dots

10-12-09 Signing on a Crew, Pirates
11-29-09 Pirates Nest, Pirates

11-02-09 Rooster Walk, Sounds of Rain
11-08-09 Rhythms, Sounds of Rain
11-15-09 Song of Bees, Sounds of Rain
11-22-09 Wondering on the Stars, Sounds of Rain
1-24-10 Ambassadors, Sounds of Rain
12-13-09 Night Stalker, Sounds of Rain
4-18-10 Blowing Downriver, Sounds of Rain
6-28-10 Tree Bones, Sounds of Rain

11-26-09 A Poem Begins, Children’s Literature in the Reading Program

12-06-09 Wolf, Wild Country
12-20-09 Above the Tree Line, Wild Country
12-27-09 No Words , Wild Country
3-10-10 Song of the Tree Frogs, Wild Country
4-04-10 No Words , Wild Country
4-25-10 Puffin, Wild Country
5-9-10 Crossing Paths, Wild Country
7-4-10 No Words , Wild Country

1-10-10 The Bus, The Mouse was Out at Recess
1-17-10 My Essay on Birds, The Mouse was Out as Recess
1-31-10 The Dog in School, The Mouse was Out at Recess

2-14-10 Love, Somebody Catch My Homework,

3-01-10 My Bed, The Alligator in the Closet
3-14-10 The Guest in the Pantry, The Alligator in the Closet
3-21-09 Socks Without Partners, The Alligator in the Closet
5-16-10 Keepers, The Alligator in the Closet
6-13-10 To the Victor, The Alligator in the Closet
6-20-10 Family Heirlooms, The Alligator in the Closet

4-11-10 Weeds, The Boy Who Counted Stars

5-23-10 Spending the Night with Relatives Vacation, We’re Going to the Ocean

How The Book of Giant Stories began

I learned from the poll that many of you have a strong interest in picture books. Since we’re talking about limericks that appeared in The Book of Giant Stories, I thought the book might be a good place to begin.

My first picture book, The Boy With A Drum, was accepted by Western Publishing in 1967 and came out in 1969. During that time, one of my editors at Western (Kathleen Daley) left to go to American Heritage Press in New York City. When Kathleen expressed interest in doing something with me there, I flew to New York to visit with her.

She said she wanted a collection of stories and asked what I would like to write about. We brainstormed and I mentioned giants. We agreed on my doing three stories on that subject. On my flight home to Kansas City I began drafting ideas for giant stories.

For weeks I dreamed up possible giant stories. I kept a list of those I liked best. By the time the list reached 38 I figured I had enough. One by one I reviewed the candidates and scratched off the weakest ones. I repeated the process several times until I eventually identified the three ideas that I simply had to write.

By the time I finally began writing, the first story was clear in my mind. I had my character (a little boy) and I knew the problem he was going to have to solve (escaping from three giants). I knew how he was going to pull it off and could hardly wait to get to the end of the first draft. Nevertheless I remember spending days on the opening paragraph. I wanted it to grab the reader, give him enough but not too much information, and make him eager to turn to the next page.

When the manuscript was completed some months later, Kathleen loved the stories and said it might be fun to add some limericks. I wrote four of them to be scattered throughout the book.

The Book of Giant Stories sold more than 750,000 copies in hardback in ten translations and more than a dozen countries. When Giants won a Christopher Medal in 1972, Kathleen called from New York to say I should fly up for the award ceremony. The Little House on the Prairie TV series won the medal, either the year before or after. I don’t remember now, but I do remember how disappointed Kathleen was when I decided not to make the trip. I was just leaving my job as Editorial Manager for Hallmark Cards to return home to Springfield and manage the family manufacturing business so my father could retire.

The Book of Giant Stories eventually went out of print but in 2001 Boyds Mills Press brought it back out for a new generation of readers.

I continue to approach a new picture book by making lists of potential characters, plots, and resolutions until I find a combination that feels right.

If you have a story about how you got into a picture book, I hope you won’t mind sharing it. Thanks in advance for joining a dialogue that may be helpful to many others.


How about a limerick?

Sunday’s post was a limerick from The Book of Giant Stories. If you
read it, you’ll note the reference to grinding bones to bake bread. It isn’t hard to guess my inspiration for that reference. When I was a boy, my parents must have read Jack and the Beanstalk to me a hundred times. Here’s that famous stanza that always made me snuggle closer to Mom or Dad as I imagined the awful fate that awaited poor Jack if the giant caught him.

I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I’ll have his bones to grind my bread.

Actually, I remember the last two lines slightly differently:

Be he living or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to bake my bread.

Either way, you see why I referenced Jack’s giant in my limerick.

The first time we posted a limerick from The Book of Giant Stories, the blog enjoyed a high number of viewers, some of whom pitched in their own limericks. So I hope this new one will kick off a round of additional limericks from those of you who enjoy the form.

We have a few more days before I give you the new single-word poem starter for November so you have time to whip up a limerick or two.

Some have asked if the dirt poems will be cut off at the end of this month. No, you can post them anytime. We’ll simply add a new word for November and see what it inspires our contributing poets to create.

In the meantime, we need our limerick writers!


Two Frogs and a Witch from GIANT STORIES 9/13/09


Witch or Frog Poems – Anyone?  David

Limericks are great fun to write. To begin one of your own, choose a subject and find a first line that fits the anapestic meter, roughly:
da da DA da da DA da da DA.

Mine began with a witch in mind so, “There once was a silly old witch,” came right away.

I’d love to see what you come up with if you stick with the giants and witches theme of this book.