Hi everyone,
My book with Tim Rasinski— Rhymes for the Times: Literacy Strategies through Social Studies — is off to a turtle-esque start and I need to pay more attention to marketing. I worked hard on the book and it turned out well, he mentioned modestly. The project began as three books, one each for 4th, 5th, and 6th grades and I agreed to write twenty poems for each book around a core social studies subject. For 4th, the states; for 5th, American history; and for 6th, ancient civilization.

At some point an editorial decision was made to combine all the material into one book. What I like about the format is that so many classroom activities are designed to put my poems to use. A partial list includes reader’s theater, word ladders, rhyming riddles, Greek and Latin roots, connections through writing, and poetic form. The book is full of such strategies that teachers can put to immediate use with their students. I don’t know if I’ve ever posted a poem from the book. This one is from ancient civilizations.

Imperial Rome
2,100 years ago

Caesar himself,
so it was said,
hated the ruckus —

chariots rattling stony streets,
dogs yapping, screaming boys,
vendors shouting, crowded shops,
roaring hubbub, thrumming noise —

Caesar might have said —

pounding hoof beats, beggars’ cries,
bleating animals, shrieks, squeals,
cracking whips, roaring crowds,
warlike groaning iron wheels —

“I cannot think!”

All was jangle, throb, and clamor,
Clatter, chatter, clang, and clop.
Caesar must have held his head
and longed to make the noises stop.

The biggest city on the earth,
a million people called it home.
“It’s noisy here,” said Caesar.
It was Rome!

I hope to see more schools discover this resource in the coming months. Until they do, I’ll try to spread the word!

Greetings to a new friend

Hi everyone,

Timing is everything. We went out with friends last night. When we got home, I found a package on the porch with two copies of my new book with Tim Rasinski, RHYMES FOR THE TIMES. It was an out with the old in with the new sort of day. I will always miss the three titles that just went out of print but it helps to be holding this new one, especially now.

This is an educational book but the sixty poems in it would make three stand alone trade books, one each on the states, American history, and ancient civilization. Here’s a sample from American history. It’s a villanelle. ‘
American Indians

Our tribes were many, our nations strong.
From the great plains to the bountiful sea
We danced our dance, sang our song.

Mostly our people got along,
Lived their lives in harmony,
Our tribes were many, our nations strong.

Our customs were old, our patience long.
Throughout our ancient history
We danced our dance, sang our song.

We taught our children to belong,
To learn their part so they could see
Our tribes were many, our nations strong.

To kill more than we needed was wrong.
As our animal brothers roamed free,
We danced our dance, sang our song.

We didn’t know of the coming throng
Of men who wouldn’t let us be.
Our tribes were many, our nations strong.
We danced our dance, sang our song.

New one in the works

Hi everyone,
David publicity photo
I’m pleased to tell you that I have a new book of poetry in the works. The contract should be along shortly. I’ve written the first ten poems so I still have a long way to go but it’s always exciting to have a new challenge. I’ll add more later but for now I’d better hold off on naming publisher or subject matter.

I’m also about halfway through a collection of poems on a different theme for a different publisher. No contract on that one yet but good preliminary vibes. Not only is the artist already involved on that one, it was his idea.

The search is still on for an artist for a third book of poems. My work on that one is finished so it’s now a matter of waiting to find the right artist and move into that phase of development.

The book in verse that Sandy Asher and I wrote is with an editor who has expressed strong interest so we’re waiting for her final decision before doing a happy dance.

Haven’t placed the collection I did with Jane Yolen yet but it’s early in the hunt and I have high hopes.

A good many other projects are in the works, including professional books with Mary Jo Fresch, Tim Rasinski, and Laura Robb, so I’m not finding much slack time these days. Bring ‘em on!


A family who reads together

Hi everyone,

As I told you, this past weekend Sandy’s cousin Leslie Johnson was here with her husband Johnnie and three children Caleb, Hannah, and Grace. Grace starts school this fall. Hannah goes into 5th grade and Caleb will be a 7th grader. 20150801_125808_resizedAll three kids have been brought up on books and are excellent readers. One or our activities was to take turns reading poems from my book with Tim Rasinski and Gay Fawcett, PARTNER POEMS FOR BUILDING FLUENCY.IMG_4677 This is a book written for teachers for which I wrote forty-two poems for two or more voices.IMG_4681 When Grace saw the book, she wouldn’t put it down until Sandy and I had taken turns reading nearly every poem in it with her. We didn’t want to stop reading with her either.IMG_4696 Some lucky teacher is going to love having a first grader who already loves books and reads with fluency, understanding, and feeling.

The whole time they were here no one asked to turn on a television. The kids were outside for much of the time. They swam and played games.IMG_4700They were curious about their surroundings and asked a lot of good questions.20150801_200304_resized And they read. Thank you, Leslie and Johnnie, for being such great parents. Thank you, Caleb, Hannah, and Grace, for being such good kids.

Finishing a manuscript

David Harrison Elementary2 307

Hi everyone,

This morning I think I can attend to the final rewrites on a manuscript of poems that I started working on quite some time ago. There might be few final tweaks ahead but basically the job is done and I’m about to feel the bittersweet pleasure of clicking “send” and releasing my work into the hands of other parties.

Yesterday I received a revised contract for a social studies book I’m doing with Tim Rasinski for which I wrote sixty poems. There’s still some work to do on that one but I think my part is finished or close to it. Now the way is about clear to focus on a rather long book project with Mary Jo Fresch. We’re winding up chapter two for a 10,000 word proposal. Once that’s done, I have a picture book idea I want to try.

At 10:00 this morning I get to start Day Two of this 47th Children’s Literature Festival by meeting my first of four groups of students. Yesterday passed quickly. I’m sure that today will too.