Perfect Picture Book Friday: One Dark Bird

I recently revisited One Dark Bird by Liz Garton Scanlon as a mentor text for a short project I was working on. There are so many aspects about this book that make it a must have for aspiring writers, kids, parents, teachers. Please take a look. And for more picture book recommendations, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

Title: One Dark Bird

Author: Liz Garton Scanlon

Illustrator: Frann Preston-Gannon

Publisher: Beach Lane Books, 2019

Audience: Ages 4-8

Themes: counting, birds, rhyme

Opening lines: 1 dark bird / perched way up high / a view of town / a taste of sky

Synopsis: Starlings appear one by one until they form a flock. When they sense a hawk nearby, the birds form a murmuration that flap and dance making lots of noise to scare away the danger.

Why I Like This Book:

  • strong verbs (perched, divert)
  • unexpected rhymes (by/multiply, cloud/crowd)
  • matching beginning and ending verses
  • front matter paragraph (as opposed to back matter)
  • bright colors in the art that contrast to the dark bird

For an extensive list of wonderful picture books compiled from past Perfect Picture Book Fridays, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Posted in Picture Book Friday | 2 Comments

Poetry Friday: Rain

The storm started just as I sat down to think about writing something for Poetry Friday. A few drops, then harder and harder. Rainstorms often remind me of Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault with illustrations by James Endicott. In beautiful lyrical language we follow a storm from its first whisper through its roaring and pouring to the dripping dropping stopping. I’m also reminded of Carolyn Crimi’s Outside, Inside with illustrations by Linnea Asplind Riley. Both of those books are older, and I used them often with students when I was teaching. I’m sure they both served as inspirations for this poem I wrote while taking Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab.


I start as a whisper,
kiss each posey
and petal.
Every leaf feels the promise
of thirst-quenching relief.

I grow stronger,
drip-dropping into puddles fashioned
from my gift.
Worms and frogs delight
in my goodness.

With a roar
I create a symphony of sound,
conducting the clouds
to set me free.

I splatter and splash,
I pitter and pat.
I whisper.
I rest.

Margaret has today’s Poetry Roundup at Reflections on the Teche.

Posted in Poetry Friday | 18 Comments

Sharing Our Stories: A Bouquet of Memories

As I walk through my gardens, I touch the velvety petals of the roses, bend to inhale the sweet scent of the peonies, check the buds on the geraniums and daisies, and remember…

Peony bushes lined the side of our small yard in the house where I grew from a preschooler to a pre-teen. The scent of peonies never fails to take me back to the memory of bowls and bouquets of peonies in May.

To me growing up, Memorial Day meant Decoration Day. My mother would pack the car with geraniums and petunias, and off we would go to the family cemetery to plant. It was on those trips that I heard stories of a grandfather I never knew and ancestors who worked hard as Irish immigrants.

Forty-four years ago I walked down the aisle on my father’s arm with a glorious bouquet of daisies and yellow roses. My hair was adorned with a crown of matching flowers. Daisies never cease to bring back the memories of that special day.

There are irises to recall the first house I shared as a young bride, moonflowers and lilies grown from cuttings shared by friends, honeysuckle that my children picked and tasted.

As I walk through my gardens, I realize they hold a bouquet of memories – a life in flowers that is still growing.

Posted in Sharing Our Stories Magic | 5 Comments

Poetry Friday: A Celebration, A Skinny Poem, and a Special Event

First of all, a special congratulations to Mary Lee Hahn on her retirement. In addition to being a poet, teacher, and all around special person, Mary Lee is a fellow Stenhouse author. Her blog with Franki Sibberson, A Year of Reading, was one of the first blogs I followed many years ago. Best wishes, Mary Lee!

This week I was introduced to a new poetry form thanks to Margaret Simon – the skinny. You can read more about it and see Margaret’s example here. So, this morning I took my coffee outside to the patio. I listened to the birds, the passing traffic, and the gently blowing wind. I thought about trees and the forces of nature and how they communicate, and that led me to this skinny:


Trees whisper in the wind
wind-whisper in the trees.

I was excited to learn this week that the Highlights Foundation is opening up for some in-person workshops in the fall, one of which is The Craft and Heart of Writing Poetry for Children with Georgia Heard, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Rebecca Davis, and Janet Wong. With a lineup like that, I know it will be fabulous! Definitely something to look forward to in September. Want to join me?

Christie Wyman has the Poetry Friday round-up this week, so head over to Wondering and Wandering for more poems and celebrations. Happy Birthday, Christie!

Posted in Poetry Friday | 14 Comments

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Stars Beckoned

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday at Susan Leonard Hill’s blog. Please visit to learn about more wonderful picture books available for to enjoy and study. If you like space exploration and beautiful text, you will love this picture book biography by Candy Wellins.

The Stars Beckoned: Edward White's Amazing Walk in Space: Wellins, Candy,  Dawson, Courtney: 9780593118047: Books

Title: The Stars Beckoned: Edward White’s Amazing Walk in Space

Author: Candy Wellins

Illustrator: Courtney Dawson

Publisher: Philomel Books, 2021

Audience: Ages 4-8

Themes: space exploration, courage

Opening lines:

Edward White
loved the night,
lived where stars were big and bright.

The evening sky—
so wide, so high.
Made him wonder. Made him sigh.

Synopsis: (from the jacket flap) The stars called out to a boy named Edward White, and he looked up at them in wonder. He knew that, one day, he would go visit them. And visit them he did, becoming the very first American to walk in space.

Why I Like This Book: Candy Wellins’ lovely language captures the essence of who Edward White was as we watch him grow from a boy to become the first American to walk in space. The rhyming text is inviting to the listener, and the repeated refrain (He’d resist, but then he’d go, walking back…so slow…so slow) reinforces the astronaut’s passion for space exploration. The simple illustrations enhance the text and are perfect for a young audience.

Resources: Back matter includes additional information, photos, and a timeline.There is an extensive Teacher’s Guide available on Candy Wellins’ website (

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

Posted in Picture Book Friday | 5 Comments