The Word of the Month for November is . . .

ANNOUNCEMENT: Yesterday’s mail brought my copy of AND THE CROWD GOES WILD, the sterling, international collection of poets and their poems about sports. I’m delighted to be in the book and grateful to Carol-Ann Hoyte and Heidi Bee Roemer for creating this idea and bringing it to life.

Hi everyone,

A few weeks ago I sent a note to our friend, Rachel Heinrichs and asked her to give us the word for November. Rachel is a talented student, so guess what word she chose for us? TALENT. Okay. Deal with that this month. If we’re talented enough, I expect to see a bumper crop of fresh poems inspired by Rachel’s word. Go!


Good news from Taylor McGowan

Hi everyone,

On my May 21 post I collected my thoughts about the just completed poetry workshop at Honesdale, Pennsylvania. One of the highlights for me was when my 6th grade friend Rachel Heinrichs came with her mother Michele and sister Sarah to pay a visit during the workshop. They drove more than three hours each way from West Chester, Pennsylvania.

I became acquainted with Rachel when she was in fourth grade and began posting her poems on my blog. Way back on April 21, 2010, Rachel and another gifted young writer, Taylor McGowan, became involved in a contest for best poem posted that month which produced a record number of voters. My blog was visited 1,830 times that day (which remains the all-time record) and attracted voters in seven countries.

Both girls continued to write and post their work. Taylor won the first time but Rachel came right back and soon became a Word of the Month Poet. By the next year Taylor was seriously into riding horses so she had less time to write. Rachel, too, became more involved in school activities so neither young poet was able to post as often as they did as 4th graders. But they have kept in touch and they have not forgotten their passion for writing.

That’s why I’m writing this post today. Yesterday I heard from a very excited Taylor who wanted to tell me about her wonderful news. I’m very proud to share the news with you. Last year Taylor learned of the Star Writers award. Teachers on the language arts and writing workshop board hand pick five representatives from each middle school grade to compete, writing short stories using prompts in a one hour time period. Taylor was selected for the competition. And she won!

And what about this year? Here’s Taylor in her own words. “This year I was also selected. And, at the last school assembly, they announced the winner – I won again! I’m trying for a four year streak. I’m thrilled.”

Taylor, we’re thrilled too. One of the best things about a blog like this is that a lot of adults have a chance to see the work of developing young writers like you, Rachel, and others who have shared their poems with us. Congratulations on your high honor! I hope we’ll have the pleasure of seeing something new from you this summer.

For those who are new to this site since April, 21, 2010, here’s Taylor’s winning poem when she was in fourth grade.


Cool water bubbles in a spring,
The pool is visited by Nature’s King.

The cougar with his soft tan fur,
Compliments it with a rumbling purr.

The water is so cool and sweet,
So it is where the small birds meet.

Cardinals and blue jays sing their delight,
The water aids them in trouble or plight.

Thirst is quenched, lives are saved,
The water is what the newcomers craved.

Traveling moose stop and drink,
As well as small children with cheeks that are pink

The spring was a miracle for all of the creatures,
A wonder, with all the life saving features.

Its cool water helped the dying and sick,
The moon reflected on it like a flame upon a candle wick.

Does with their fawns come for a drink,
As they taste it their hearts don’t sink.

In fact, they soar, they leap, they fly,
When their run is over they heave a sigh.

The spring had nourished their already warm
But not just that. It helped the other parts.

— Taylor McGowan, 4th grade

Visitor number 100,000 is . . .

Hi everyone,

Sunday morning I kept the blog stats on as I watched the visits climb toward the 100,000 mark. Five visits short of the goal, all became still. No action. I read the paper and ate breakfast sitting here staring at the screen.

Finally, at 10:42, there came flurry of activity and number 100,000 came from our young friend and poet, Taylor McGowan from Galena, Ohio. I was delighted by the way it turned out. I’ll mail Taylor a signed copy of the book she chose, MAMMOTH BONES AND BROKEN STONES.

Many of you will remember when Taylor and another gifted young poet, Rachel Heinrichs of Westchester, Pennsylvania, became locked in a wild runoff for Young Poet of the Month back in May, 2010. On that occasion we had voters from several countries involved who helped run the total votes on April 29, 2010 up to 1830, the largest single tally in the history of my blog.

By coincidence, I also heard from Rachel this week, telling me that school is off to a good start and that she is as busy as ever. I know that so many of you agree that it is a pleasure to watch these girls and our other young poets grow and learn more about the world and themselves.


New Jersey SCBWI

My thanks again to Rob Shepperson for his enjoyable and informative Q/A interview on yesterday’s post.

I arrived in Princeton Thursday night. Yesterday I conducted a three-hour poetry workshop, gave the luncheon talk, and visited with authors about their manuscripts in the afternoon. Today I’ll give a briefer version of the workshop and finish the one-on-one critiques. Mimi Cross is here. So is Liz Korba as well as Jeanne Balsam. It’s good to finally meet people in person after meeting them on the blog and in e-mails!

Yesterday at my keynote, Michele Heinrichs drove two hours from West Chester, Pennsylvania to bring her daughter Rachel. When I told the audience about Rachel and her poetry, she received a huge round of applause. I read her most recent poem and everyone was very impressed. The luncheon was attended by authors, artists, editors, and agents. Rachel was the only child in the room and she reminded us all of why we do what we do to create literature for young people.

This is a good conference but considering that Kathy Temean is running it, this comes as no surprise. I’m meeting a lot of people, making new friends, and enjoying the company of so many writers, artists, and others who care about making children’s literature. My thanks to Kathy and her great team of volunteers who are making this all come together so well.