Poetry Friday: Before and After the Storm

I love the anticipation of a snowstorm almost as much as the storm itself. Afterwards, the world offers much to think about – neighborly kindnesses, objects that take on a different appearance, animal tracks to puzzle over. I keep those who are being negatively impacted by the unusual storms spreading across the country in my hearts. Luckily, the storm in my area has been less disruptive (although it has started snowing again). It gave me time to pause and ponder, before and after, and write two haiku.

Before the Storm
the air smells of snow
waiting for the quiet white
to tickle my nose

After the Storm
scoops of snow and ice
piled on an empty swing set
winter’s ice cream treat

Ruth has today’s Poetry Round Up here. Stop by for links to more poetry and a surprise group poem of fascinating facts.

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: Finding a Dove for Gramps

Image result for finding a dove for gramps

To celebrate this weekend’s Great Backyard Bird Count, I’m showcasing a book that will inspire young and old to discover birds all around them.

Title: Finding a Dove for Gramps

Author: Lisa J. Amstutz

Illustrator: Maria Luisa DiGravio

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Audience: Ages 4-8

Themes: Nature, Family, Citizen Science

Opening lines: Mom and I slip silently out the door. Today we’re going to count birds. It’s just the two of us this year, since Gramps flew south for the winter. ”Just like the swallows!” he says.

Synopsis: (from the jacket flap) Jay looks forward to participating in the bird count each winter with his mom and Gramps. It’s fun to spot different birds like a nuthatch, a black-capped chickadee, and even a golden-crowned kinglet! This year Jay wants to spot his Gramps’s favorite bird – a dove. But with so many different birds in the nature preserve, will Jay have a chance to locate one before the count is over?

Why I Like This Book: This book is perfect for beginning birders, young or old. The text is simple, yet encouraging. Through the use of sensory details and onomatopoeia, Lisa introduces the reader to several common birds, and conveys the joy of locating these feathered friends. The colorful illustrations enhance the text and add to the engagement.

Resources: There is information on bird counts in the back matter of this book, as well as a bird count checklist. In addition, The Audubon Society has lots of great resources for kids as well as general information on birds and bird counting activities.

For a list of wonderful picture books, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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The House Sparrow

Today Ruth shared this on Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog:

“Writing allows me to notice the world, and writing gives me pause to appreciate the world.”

I have a love-hate relationship with the house sparrows that nest in the bushes under my kitchen window. “Love,” because they are birds. “Hate,” because they are not always kind to my beloved bluebirds. The house sparrows will claim a nesting box as their own with little regard as to who is already setting up house there. In the world of birds, house sparrows are bullies.

But this morning, the chubby sparrow perched on the snow-capped branch of the rhododendron gave me pause. He sat, observing, taking in the world, as his head moved in tiny jerks back and forth, back and forth. I wondered what he might be thinking. Maybe he was chuckling at the humans dashing by in their cars, refusing to pause to appreciate nature’s beauty. Maybe he was searching for a friend, hoping they could spend the day together. Or maybe he was planning his next takeover. I watched for a while until suddenly, he was gone.

For some reason, this morning I felt a kinship with this feathered friend who gave me “pause to appreciate the world.”

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: Carmela Full of Wishes

Today I’m participating in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday. Be sure to check it out here.

I have a basket of picture books by my desk that I dip into and out of all the time. They are books that fill me with joy or books that help me be a better writer. Some of the titles may rotate depending on the project I’m working on or to make room for something new, but some stay as old friends. Carmela Full of Wishes has a permanent spot in my basket.

Title: Carmela Full of Wishes

Author: Matt de la Peña

Illustrator: Christian Robinson

Publisher: G.P.Putnam’s Sons, 2018

Audience: Ages 5-8 and up

Themes: Family, hope, community

Opening lines: Carmela scootered along the uneven dirt path, watching men stoop to work with their hands, her birthday bracelets jingling and jangling. The thick greenhouse air smelled of marigolds and overturned earth and fresh manure.

Synopsis: (from Amazon) When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true–she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Together, they travel through their neighborhood, past the crowded bus stop, the fenced-off repair shop, and the panadería, until they arrive at the Laundromat, where Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish.

Why I Like This Book: Carmela Full of Wishes Is a book where all children can see themselves and relate to Carmela’s relationship with her brother and her need to understand the just-right wish to make. The text provides numerous examples that aspiring writers and teachers of writing can use to illustrate successful writing strategies – word choice, structure, pacing, and character development to name just a few. The art pares beautifully with the text to add another rich layer. This book sings with heart!

For Susanna’s complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

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Waking to Words

This morning I’m writing in response to an open invitation on Sharing Our Stories: Take Space for Writing.

There are many physical spaces where I write. Most often it is at the desk in my office with my notebook and pen, a lined notepad and pencil, or my laptop. But this morning I found myself thinking more about my inner space.

Lately I’ve been waking to words. I find myself listening to ideas, phrases, snatches of poetry or prose in that magical space between sleeping and stirring. Most often it has to do with a story I’m working on, but sometimes it’s something completely different. This “writing in my head” is not new to me, nor does it only happen as I wake. I compose beginnings, endings, stories, poems as I walk or cook or fold laundry. I believe it’s the act of performing a routine task that opens my mind to ideas. The problem, of course, is remembering. That’s why there is a small notebook or two in my purse or stashed in a kitchen drawer. “Notes” is one of my favorite phone apps.

Quiet is what defines my inner writing space. It might be interrupted by the wren who greets the day, the gentle snoring of my dog by my side, the plop of the newspaper on the driveway, or the song of the wind chimes. But it is a peaceful, calm, inner space that fuels my writing.

Posted in Sharing Our Stories Magic | 11 Comments