Sidewalk Bouquet

Receiving an email informing me that one of my poems was chosen as a finalist in my library’s local competition was pleasantly surprising.

Being asked to read it aloud at a ceremony with the other finalists and honorable mentions was exciting.

Realizing I had overwritten my submission was embarrassing (thanks for saving me Melissa!).

Reading said poem was nerve wracking.

Feeling a strong uplifting sense of community with writers, poets and appreciative listeners was exhilarating.

Thank you Diane Tuccillo, Melissa Beavers, Michael Liggett, Jordan Triplett, The Friends of the Poudre River Public Library, and all the judges for making this event possible.

And for the good feeling I will carry with me, always.

Sidewalk Bouquet

The occasion calls for a haiku:

A sidewalk bouquet

Unexpected encounter

For a step-outside

Go ahead and click on the photo for a better view of the sidewalk bouquet.

PPBF: It Jes Happened

Author: Don Tate
Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie
Publisher: Lee & Low Books, 2012
Age Level: 6 and up
Themes: African American painters, folk art, Alabama, biography
Opening: It was early summer in Montgomery, Alabama, 1939. On downtown Monroe Avenue, an elderly man sat on a wooden crate. With a board laid across his lap and the stub of a pencil grasped in his hand, he began to draw a picture on the back of a discarded laundry soap box.
Summary: A biography of twentieth-cenury African American folk artist Bill Traylor, a former slave who at the age of eighty-five began to draw pictures based on his memories and observations of rural and urban life in Alabama.

Why I like this book: This is a beautifully written story of a very poor man whose light certainly shined within (Traylor is now considered to be one of the most important self-taught folk artists). Here another excerpt: ‘Rectangles became bodies; circles became heads and eyes; lines became outstretched arms, hands, and legs. He filled in shapes with sketchy lines and smoothed out edges.’ In researching this post I was surprised to find out that Tate is better known as an illustrator. I was so taken by the story that I asked, and found out, that there will (hopefully) soon be a site where we can view Traylor’s original work.
Resources/Activities: Check out the teacher’s guide on Don Tate’s website, by Debbie Gonzales.

For more PPBF picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE

PPBF: Aa, A was an apple pie


Italian cover – best resolution I could find

Author/Illustrator: Etienne Delessert
Creative Editions, 2005
Age Level: 
the Italian website where I nabbed the cover photo says 0-5; I like their way of thinking.
alphabet book
Opening: Aa
A was an apple pie
Yes, the book walks us from Aa to Zz, and ampersand, but this is a classic nursery rhyme from the 1660’s (!) reintroduced with playful creatures by Delessert.


Why I like this book: The classic text is so much fun, I’m kind of glad I didn’t already know it: ‘Dd dealt it, Ee ate it…Tt took it, Uu upset it’. But for me it’s the the illustrations: bright, cheerful, playful and light as a feather. If you are not familiar with Delessert’s books, I must take pity on you. Click on his name, above, to go to the gallery on his website. This self-taught Swiss artist, now living in the US, speaks the visual language of picture books, and has received numerous awards, but who cares about awards – just check out one of his books. You have more than eighty to choose from!

Resources/Activities: make personalized alphabet books, using the children’s own illustrations or collaged from magazines; I found a fun marching game, which is a lot like a ‘Pie Walk’, and many other alphabet related activities at A to Z Teaching Stuff HERE

For more PPBF picks go to Susanna Hill’s blog – any day!

PPBF: One Gorilla, A Counting Book

Author/Illustrator: Anthony Browne
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2012
Age Level: 3-7
Themes: counting book, primates
Opening: ‘1 gorilla.’ (The suspense is killing you now, eh?)
Summary: Spoiler alert: 1 – 10, and a little extra. Okay, so there is not much of a story going on here, BUT there is, really, once you get past 10…


Why I like this book: I don’t. I LOVE IT! The primate master is at it again! If, by some remote chance, you don’t know who Anthony Browne is, or if you’ve only read a book or two, I obviously need to fill you in. This Brit has been making picture books since the mid-seventies, been bestowed with a gazillion awards, and was the UKs Children’s Laureate from 2009-2011. Not only does he write wonderful books (about 40 now), he illustrates them. But when describing his work ‘illustrate’ is too simple a word. He breathes life into his pictures, and they breathe life back into the viewer. Stunning comes close – you do feel a bit of an electric shock, but with a strong magnetic pull. Try it.



‘Wise guy’ quote: (I nabbed Browne’s from a post at “‘I hope to encourage more children to discover and love reading, but I want to focus particularly on the appreciation of picture books, and the reading of both pictures and words. Picture books are for everybody at any age, not books to be left behind as we grow older. The best ones leave a tantalising gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the reader’s imagination, adding so much to the excitement of reading a book.’

Resources/Activities: this counting book can easily prompt a discussion on what a primate is, their different habitats – even the different sounds each one makes – HERE is the link to a website from the National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, with a whole bunch of calls you can listen to.

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks go to Susanna Hill’s blog – any day

PPBF: There’s NO Such Thing as a Dragon

Author/Illustrator: Jack Kent
Publisher: A Golden Book, 1975
Age Level: 3-7
Themes: dragons, imagination
Opening: Bill Bixbee was rather surprised when he woke up one morning and found a dragon in his room. It was a small dragon, about the size of a kitten.
Summary: Bill Bixbee’s mother won’t admit that dragons exist until it’s nearly too late.

Why I like this book: I am quoting directly from goodreads because it phrases what I want to say so perfectly: “Charming text and playful illustrations show that a little attention can make a big difference, no matter what size the problem.” I love finding a book that has endured. The writing is still fresh, and the illustrations crisp, to the point, and loaded with humor. Unfortunately, I sometimes find superbly skilled renderings that don’t add to the story – they only show what I’ve already read – but certainly NOT HERE! And the man has made over 40 books for me to delight in discovering.
Resources/Activities: Imagination and dragons? Make puppets, of course! I liked the Australian accents on the following video, and thought you can add anything you want to his simple demonstration, with a bit of glue or needle and thread. I tend to make puppets with socks because of the large collection of singles that have accumulated in a family of four over the years. But I’d reach for a paper bag, some crayons and a box of saved thingamabobs next!

Click HERE to read more about Jack Kent on Children’s Atheneum
For more PPBF picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE

I’m off to the mountains for the weekend, so I’ll get to your comments next week.