A good week of thinking

Hi everyone,

Last week my seven days of thinking turned out well. I worked on a revision with Sandy Asher of Jesse and Grace, the verse novel we wrote some time ago and which Sandy turned into an award-winning play. We’re polishing it a bit to prepare to enter it for a dramatic reading. If we make it, I’ll tell you more about that.

Cheryl Harness and I pulled a story from the file that she and I hatched a few years back over wine and chatter at a dinner somewhere; maybe at a Warrensburg Children’s Literature Festival? Correct me, Cheryl. Anyway, we couldn’t sell it because it’s about a princess and some editors who saw it informed us the world wasn’t much in need of another princess story. So to heck with ’em, we’ve embarked on a completely different story springing from the ashes of the dearly departed princess.

Also during the week, I got to thinking about an extremely unlikely subject for a science picture book, outlined it, shared it with my agent, he likes it, so as soon as I can I’ll start work on it.

What else? Got my new webcam installed (thanks Jeff) and a tripod ordered (thanks, Jeff). Posted a new picture on OZARKS FAMILY VOICES (with another plea for more pictures I can post there: https://www.facebook.com/ozarksfamilyvoices. Gave a ZOOM presentation to Springfield Writers’ Guild. Received two rejections. Wrote the first draft of my Word of the Month Poetry Challenge poem, which I’ll post soon. Agreed to meet virtually tomorrow with our moderator and eight other poets to rehearse for a program to be aired on October 15. Jane Yolen and I wrote our poems for the upcoming series of bloggers who will help us introduce our new picture book, RUM PUM PUM. Su Hutchens and I agree to give my agent another week or two to read our new collaboration before I start nudging.

I recommend a good thinking week now and then. It relieves pressures and allows the imagination to get out for a good romp.

Wonderful weekend wonderful week

Hi everyone,

Over the weekend we had a good visit with friends from Colorado, Su and Danny Hutchens. Yesterday we all drove to Mansfield and toured the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. Almost the first things we saw were a sculpture and a painting on display by Cheryl Harness. Bill Anderson was in town for first ever children’s literature festival and other Wilder business. Got to meet Bill’s brother Jim Anderson and also was introduced to Christopher Radko, creator of the Christopher Radko line of Christmas ornaments.

Now I see a clear week without a single meeting or appointment scheduled during my working time. This is rare and I look forward to making things happen this week. All day every day it’s onward and upward!

I’m in a new book

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: It’s time for a summer blog party over at Matt’s house. Look for more information tomorrow and start getting ready to join the fun. Here’s his link if you don’t already have it handy. https://mattforrest.wordpress.com Thanks to Matt for hosting his second party. Who will be the next host/hostess? It isn’t too early to volunteer!

Hi everyone,

I neglected to mention that Monday was the official publication date CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN THE READING PROGRAM, 5th Edition. I’ve told you about it before but now it’s official and I’m very happy to have my chapter on poetry included, pages 182-200. Here’s the blurb.

“This indispensable teacher resource and course text, now revised and updated, addresses the “whats,” “whys,” and “how-tos” of incorporating outstanding children’s literature into the K–8 reading program. A strong emphasis on diverse literature is woven throughout the fifth edition, with chapters emphasizing the need for books that reflect their readers and presenting dozens of carefully reviewed books that teachers will be eager to use in the classroom. Leading authorities provide advice on selecting texts, building core literacy and literary skills, supporting struggling readers, and maximizing engagement. The volume offers proven strategies for teaching specific genres and formats, such as fiction, nonfiction, picturebooks, graphic novels, biographies, and poetry. This title is a copublication with the International Literacy Association.”

This is the third straight edition for which I’ve been invited to write the chapter about poetry. In this one I’m grateful to Charles Ghigna, Jane Yolen, Kenn Nesbitt, Cheryl Harness, Steven Withrow, J. Patrick Lewis, and Joyce Sidman for contributing poems. Their collective genius does wonders for the chapter! Not only that, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong have a special insert that adds even more spark and great information so I’m thankful to them too!

This one was a long time coming. I feel like celebrating!

Tracking Missouri children’s poets

Hi everyone,

A few days ago Marcus Cafagna and I began planning for a poetry reading event to be held in Springfield (tentatively) on Friday evening, September 8. Marcus is inviting two of his star MSU student poets and the three will read from their original work.

Taken at spring 2018 photo day. February 6-7, 2018. Kevin White/Missouri State University


As I have before when Marcus and I join forces, I’ll read some poems of my own. Marcus asked if I had any other children’s poets in mind to invite onto the program. In the Springfield area I couldn’t come up with anyone I know who has had at least one book of his/her own poetry published by a trade publisher.

I don’t pretend to know all the children’s writers in the state but the only other poet I know who fits the criterion is Constance (Connie) Levy, a wonderful poet and old friend in St. Louis.

I contacted Connie and put the question to her. She doesn’t know of anyone either and believes we are the only two established children’s poets in Missouri.

There are, of course, other talented poets. Cheryl Harness lives in Independence. Jody Jensen Shaffer lives in Liberty. There must be others scattered around the state. But as far as Connie and I know, poetry is not their focus and their publications of children’s poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines such as Highlights. There may also be poets who have paid to have their work published through one of the vanity presses.

All this has fanned an interest on my part to learn if there are indeed other living poets in our fair state with one or more books of their own poems issued by a trade publisher. I’d love to be wrong about this so please correct me if you know about someone I don’t. At a time when more elementary school teachers and librarians are learning how to put poetry to work in the classroom, this is not a good time to be running low on Missouri poets!

Two good friends

Hi everyone,

I haven’t had a chance to tell you what a fine time I had last Friday when dear friend Cheryl Harness came to town from Independence, Missouri to do a writing workshop for veterans hosted at Drury University. http://www.cherylharness.com/biography.htm Cheryl Harness, 1 What a talented lady! She paints, she writes, she sculpts, and she carries an encyclopedic amount of history in her brain.

Our last time together was when we were the two speakers at a conference at Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas last year so we had tons of catching up to do. I took her to Big Whiskey’s where we whiled away the afternoon sipping milk and nibbling cookies. We had a fine time.
Bill Anderson
And as if that weren’t enough excitement in my life, another talented friend of many years, Bill Anderson, is coming to town next week — the very day I get back from Houston — and we’re already planning on a good visit. http://www.williamandersonbooks.com

Bill also knows how to make history come alive for young audiences and his fans flock to hear him talk about his books on Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mark Twain, The von Trapp Family, and many others. I took Cheryl to see “my” school and Bill is kind enough to ask to see it too. Oh twist my arm!