Friday, January 13, 2017

Sneak Peek list for 2017

It's time again to post my annual "sneak peek" list of all the poetry for young people that will be published in the coming year. This includes poetry collections,  anthologies and novels in verse. In addition, I plan to talk with publishers at the ALA Midwinter conference next week and update with more titles I learn about there. So, these are the titles that I know about thus far. If you know about other poetry for young readers set to be published this year (or have changes to suggest about these titles below), please let me know (in the comments). I'll be updating this list all year long, so it becomes a resource as you look for the latest poetry books for young people. There's a quick link to this post in the menu on the right-hand side of this blog, too, where I have links to all my previous "sneak peek" lists. As always, I'm so excited to find, get, and read all of these books! Congrats poets and yay for poetry readers! 
  1. Alene, Catherine. 2017. The Sky Between You and Me. Sourcebooks.
  2. Alexander, Kwame. 2017. Animal Ark. National Geographic.
  3. Alexander, Kwame. 2017. Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets. Candlewick.
  4. Alexander, Kwame. 2017. Swish!: Aim, Shoot, Rebound, and Score in This Game Called Life. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 
  5. Atkins, Jeannine. 2017. Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis. Simon & Schuster.
  6. Cartaya, Pablo. 2017. The Epic Fall of Arturo Zamora. Penguin/Viking.
  7. Clickard, Carrie. 2017. Dumpling Dreams: Joyce Chen and Her Peking Ravioli. Simon & Schuster.
  8. Colby, Rebecca. 2017. Motor Goose: Rhymes That Go! Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan.
  9. Dalton, Pamela. 2017. Under the Silver Moon. Chronicle/Handprint.
  10. Derby, Sally. 2017. A New School Year. Charlesbridge.
  11. Elliott, David. 2017. Bull. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  12. Engle, Margarita. 2017. Bravo! Poems About Amazing Latinos. Ill. by Rafael Lopez. Macmillan/Henry Holt.
  13. Engle, Margarita. 2017. All the Way to Havana. Ill. by Mike Curato. Holt.
  14. Engle, Margarita. 2017. Forest World. Atheneum.
  15. Engle, Margarita. 2017. Morning Star Horse/ El Caballo Lucero. HBE Publishers. 
  16. Engle, Margarita. 2017. Miguel’s Brave Knight. Ill. by Raul Colon. Peachtree. 
  17. Esenwine, Matt Forrest. 2017. Flashlight Night. Boyds Mills Press.
  18. Frost, Helen. 2017. When My Sister Started Kissing. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  19. Frost, Helen. 2017. Wake Up. Ill. by Rick Lieder. Candlewick.
  20. Green, Shari. 2017. Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess. Pajama Press.
  21. Grimes, Nikki. 2017. One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance. Bloomsbury.
  22. Grimes, Nikki. 2017. The Watcher. Ill. by Bryan Collier. Eerdmans.
  23. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2017. I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage. Lee & Low.
  24. Hughes, Langston. 2017. That Is My Dream! Ill. by Daniel Miyares. Random House/ Schwartz & Wade. 
  25. Jensen, Kelly. 2017. Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World. Algonquin. 
  26. Latham, Irene and Waters, Charles. 2017. Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. Millbrook Press.
  27. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2017. Keep a Pocket in Your Poem. Ill. by Johanna Wright. Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong.
  28. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2017. Make the Earth Your Companion. Ill. by Anna and Elena Balbusso. Creative Editions.
  29. Llanos, Mariana. 2017. Poesia Alada. Purple Corn Press.
  30. Magliaro, Elaine. 2017. Things to Do. Ill. by Catia Chien. Chronicle.
  31. McKissack, Patricia. 2017. Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing and Shout; Dance, Spin, and Turn it Out! Ill. by Brian Pinkney. Random House Schwartz & Wade. 
  32. Mercado-López. 2017. Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer!/Esteban de Luna, Rescatador de Bebés! Arte Público Press.
  33. Mora, Pat. 2017. Bookjoy, Wordjoy. Lee & Low.
  34. Oliver, Lin. 2017. Steppin’ Out: Playful Rhymes for Toddler Times. Ill. by Tomie de Paola. Penguin/Paulsen.
  35. Otheguy, Emma. 2017. Martí's Song for Freedom. Lee & Low.
  36. Perkins, Useni Eugene. 2017. Hey Black Child. Ill. by Bryan Collier. Little, Brown. 
  37. Powell, Patricia Hruby. 2017. Loving Vs. Virginia. Chronicle.
  38. Powell, Patricia Hruby. 2017. Struttin’ with Some Barbecue. Charlesbridge.
  39. Salas, Laura Purdie. 2017. If You Were the Moon. Ill. by Jaime Kim. Lerner/Millbrook.
  40. Schaub, Michelle. 2017. Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market. Ill. by Amy Huntington. Charlesbridge.
  41. Sidman, Joyce. 2017. Round. Ill. by Taeeun Yoo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 
  42. Silverstein, Shel. 2017. [Untitled thus far]. HarperCollins.
  43. Singer, Marilyn. 2017. Every Month’s New Year. Ill. by Susan Roth. Lee & Low.
  44. Singer, Marilyn. 2017. Feel the Beat:  Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing.  Dial.
  45. Terry, Ellie. 2016. Forget Me Not. Feiwel & Friends.
  46. Toht, Patricia. 2017. All Aboard the London Bus. Frances Lincoln/Quarto.
  47. VanDerwater, Amy. 2017. Read! Read! Read! Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  48. Vardell, Sylvia and Wong, Janet. 2017. Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book. Pomelo Books.
  49. Vardell, Sylvia and Wong, Janet. 2017. Pet Crazy: A Poetry Friday Power Book. Pomelo Books. 
  50. Weatherford, Carole. 2017. Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library. Ill. by Eric Velazquez. Candlewick Press. 
  51. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2017. In Your Hands. Ill. by Brian Pinkney.  Athenuem.
  52. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2017.The Legendary Miss Lena Horne. Ill. by Elizabeth Zunon. Athenuem.
  53. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2017. Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression. Ill. by Jane Green. Albert Whitman. 
  54. Weston, Robert Paul. 2017. Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms. Ill. by Misa Saburi. Random House Canada.
  55. Wilson, Karma. 2017. Dormouse Dreams. Ill. by Renata Liwska. Disney-Hyperion.
  56. Wissinger, Tamera Will. 2017. Gone Camping. Ill. by Matthew Cordell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  57. Wolf, Allan. 2017. Who Killed Christopher Goodman? Based on a True Crime. Candlewick.
  58. Yolen, Jane and Lewis, J. Patrick. 2017. Prehistoric Last Laughs. Ill. by Charlesbridge.
  59. Yolen, Jane. 2017. Thunder Underground. Ill. by Josée Masse. Boyds Mills Press.
BTW, this list includes books that have SOME poetry, but may not be entirely poetry. And I'll keep updating this list as I hear of new titles to add.

I'm also so proud to have two books coming out this year as part of the Poetry Friday Power Book series with Janet Wong. Our first in this series, You Just Wait, came out last year and has earned an "NCTE Notable Poetry Book" distinction. So excited about that! Our second book in the series officially launches on Monday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. That book is entitled, Here We Go and is a story in poems about four young friends who are coping with challenges at home and at school and muster their energies to become gardening activists! Plus, the book includes activities for young people to inspire creativity, critical thinking, and poetry writing. 







Meanwhile, head over to Keri Recommends, to see what else is going on this Poetry Friday!

Friday, January 06, 2017

Cybils Poetry Shortlist 2016

Happy new year, everyone! 

Time to celebrate the best of the poetry published in 2016. I'll be looking for announcements of all the awards and posting information about any poetry books that are recognized as it becomes available. I'm hoping there will be many poetry books recognized in all kinds of ways because there were many, wonderful poetry books published in 2016. Just look...

FIRST, I was lucky enough to serve as a judge for the Cybils Award in Poetry and we are proud of our "shortlist" too. Here are our choices:







Here is the annotated list of these titles at the Cybils site. You can find the list of ALL the nominated books here. The winner will be announced on Valentine's Day!

Thanks to my fellow Round 1 Judges who were a lovely, thoughtful group. Be sure and check out each of their excellent blogs:

Jone MacCulloch, Chair, Check It Out 
Carol Wilcox, Carol’s Corner
Joy Acey, Poetry for Kids Joy 
Linda Baie, Teacher Dance 
Tricia Stohr-Hunt, Miss Rumphius Effect 
Kortney Garrison, One Deep Drawer

The Nerdy Book Club also announced their choices for the 2016 "Nerdies" for Poetry and Novels in Verse posted by Mary Lee Hahn here. Their list includes:

A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Booked by Kwame Alexander
Moo by Sharon Creech
Applesauce Weather by Helen Frost
Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer
Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka
Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins
Before Morning by Joyce Sidman
When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano
Saving Red by Sonya Sones
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan
Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes
To Stay Alive by Skila Brown
You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford
American Ace by Marilyn Nelson
Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford (TWO for Carole!)
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan
Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle

The ALA Midwinter conference is coming up in two weeks and I'm hoping there will be poetry books among their choices too. And I'll be posting my "sneak peek" list for forthcoming poetry set to be published in 2017 very soon. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, head on over to Linda's place (my fellow Cybils Poetry Judge) at Teacher Dance for our Poetry Friday postings. 

Friday, December 09, 2016

Celebrating libraries and Dewey Decimal Day in December

December is full of holidays, but I'll bet you didn't know Dewey Decimal Day was one of them! Yes, December 10 is Dewey Decimal Day, the birthday of Melvil Dewey (1851-1931), the inventor of the Dewey Decimal system of library classification, the most widely used system in the world since 1876. Time to celebrate with this poem by Liz Steinglass from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations:


And you'll find these Take 5 activities for this poem in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations too:



And for more poems about libraries, books, and reading, look for my list in The Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists. Here's an excerpt:

Poems about Libraries, Books, and Reading 
  1. Alarcón, Francisco X. 1999. “Books” from Angels Ride Bikes: And Other Fall Poems/ Los Angeles Andan en Bicicleta: Y Otros Poemas de Otoño. San Francisco, CA: Children's Book Press. 
  2. Appelt, Kathi. 1997. “Javier” from Just People and Paper/Pen/Poem: A Young Writer’s Way to Begin. Spring, TX: Absey & Co.
  3. Bagert, Brod. 1999. “Library-Gold” from Rainbows, Head Lice and Pea-Green Tile; Poems in the Voice of the Classroom Teacher. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House.
  4. Dakos, Kalli. 2003. “When the Librarian Reads to Us” from Put Your Eyes Up Here: And Other School Poems. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  5. Frost, Helen. 2003. “Do Not Leave Children Unattended” from Keesha’s House. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  6. George, Kristine O’Connell. 2002. “School Librarian” from Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems. New York: Clarion Books. 
  7. Giovanni, Nikki. 1971. “ten years old” from Spin a Soft Black Song. New York: Hill & Wang. 
  8. Glenn, Mel. 2000. “Eddie Sabinsky” from Split Image. New York: HarperCollins.
  9. Greenfield. Eloise. 2006. “At the Library” from The Friendly Four. New York: HarperCollins.
  10. Grimes, Nikki. 1997. “At the Library” from It’s Raining Laughter. New York: Dial.
  11. Grimes, Nikki. 1998. “42nd Street Library” form Jazmin’s Notebook. New York: Dial.
  12. Gunning, Monica. 2004. “The Library” from America, My New Home. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press. 
  13. Herrick, Steven. 2004. “Lord of the Lounge” from The Simple Gift. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  14. Hopkins, Ellen. 2006. “See, the Library” from burned.  New York: McElderry.
  15. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2000. “Good Books, Good Times” from Good Books, Good Times! New York: HarperTrophy.
  16. Katz, Alan. 2001. “Give Me a Break” from Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs. New York: Scholastic.
  17. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. “Please Bury Me in the Library” and “Necessary Gardens” from Please Bury Me in the Library. San Diego, Harcourt.
  18. Lewis, J. Patrick. 1999. “Read… Think… Dream” from: The Bookworm's Feast: A Potluck of Poems. New York: Dial.
  19. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. “#66 The Hippopotabus,” “#174 The Librarian,” “#116 Library Fine,” and “#89 New York Public Library” from Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year. New York: Little, Brown.
  20. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. “Librarian” from The Underwear Salesman: And Other Jobs for Better or Verse. New York: Simon & Schuster/Atheneum.
  21. Livingston, Myra Cohn. 1994. “Quiet” in Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. April Bubbles Chocolate; An ABC of Poetry. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  22. Lottridge, Celia Barker. 2002. “Anna Marie’s Library Book and What Happened’ in Pearson, Deborah. Ed. When I Went to the Library. Toronto: Groundwood Books. 
  23. McLoughland, Beverly. 1990. “Surprise” in Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 1990. Good Books, Good Times! New York: HarperTrophy. 
  24. Medina, Jane. 1999. “The Library Card” from My Name is Jorge on Both Sides of the River: Poems. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press.
  25. Merriam, Eve. 1998. “Reach for a Book” in Rich, Mary Perrotta, Ed. 1998. Book Poems:  Poems from National Children’s Book Week, 1959-1998. New York: Children’s Book Council.
  26. Nye, Naomi Shihab. 1998. “Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things” from Fuel. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions.
  27. Nye, Naomi Shihab. 2005. “The List” from A Maze Me; Poems for Girls. New York: Greenwillow.
  28. Prelutsky, Jack. 2006. “It’s Library Time” from What a Day It Was at School! New York: Greenwillow. 
  29. Sidman, Joyce. “This Book” from: http://www.joycesidman.com/bookmark.html
  30. Silverstein, Shel. 1981. “Overdues” from A Light in the Attic. New York: HarperCollins. 
  31. Soto, Gary. 1992. “Ode To My Library” from Neighborhood Odes. San Diego: Harcourt.
  32. Worth, Valerie. 1994. “Library” from All the Small Poems and Fourteen More. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  33. Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2009. “Librarian” from Steady Hands: Poems About Work. New York: Clarion.

Based on: Vardell, Sylvia M. (2006). A place for poetry: Celebrating the library in poetry. Children and Libraries. 4, (2), 35-41 and Vardell, S. M. (2007). Everyday poetry: Celebrating Children’s Book Week with book-themed poetry. Book Links. 17, (2), 14-15.

Also look for the following poetry books:
  • Rich, Mary Perrotta. Ed. 1998. Book Poems:  Poems from National Children’s Book Week, 1959-1998. New York: Children’s Book Council.
  • Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2004. Wonderful Words: Poems about Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
  • Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2011. I am the Book. Holiday House.
  • Salas, Laura Purdie. 2011. BookSpeak!. Ill. by Josee Bisaillon. Clarion.

Jone is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering this week, so don't forget to check out those posts over at Check it Out!

Friday, December 02, 2016

NCTE 2016

I'm sure you've read posts by many others who attended the recent NCTE conference (National Council of Teachers of English) in Atlanta. It's always a great event, but this year's conference had an amazing richness of poets present! Look at all the poets who were there! And I'm probably forgetting some other names. But, WOW, right? 
I believe you can search the program for sessions by these poets here and then look for any handouts from those amazing sessions at the NCTE GoogleDoc here. On Twitter, use #NCTE16 to see what people were tweeting at the conference.

Plus, they announced the newest recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children: 
Marilyn Nelson! 

I also attended a session presented by the committee for the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children during which they present their annual list of "Notable" poetry books. That list is published annually in School Library Journal and you can find the 2016 list here. However, this year I learned that they also generate a list of "Notable Verse Novels" and somehow I had missed that previously. Apparently, they've been making that list for a few years and it is published in the New England Reading Association (NERA) Journal, but I can't find a link for that. (Please let me know if you find the link!) I was very excited to hear they were singling out verse novels for a separate "notable" list! The 2016 list of notable verse novels includes:
  • Crowder, Melanie. 2015. Audacity. New York: Philomel.
  • Engle, Margarita. 2015. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir. New York: Atheneum.
  • Hilton, Marilyn. 2015. Full Cicada Moon. New York: Dial.
  • Holt, K. A. 2015. House Arrest. San Francisco: Chronicle.
  • Jensen, Cordelia. 2015. Skyscraping. New York: Philomel.
  • Rose, Caroline Starr. 2015. Blue Birds. New York: Putnam.
  • Sonnichsen, A. L. 2015. Red Butterfly. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
Look for the article because it includes reviews, curriculum connections, and related titles.
>>> I was lucky enough to present a panel on verse novels with Jeannine Atkins, Patricia Hruby Powell, Margarita Engle, and Janet Wong. 


I spoke first about the roots of the verse novel-- some say as back as far as Homer, and certainly many credit Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology as a seminal work in this form. 
I pointed out these groundbreaking books helped shape the form and build an audience for verse novels-- and it didn't hurt to win a Newbery Medal (Karen Hesse for Out of the Dust).
And that even more recent award winners (Newbery, Newbery honor, National Book Award) were novels (or memoirs) in verse.
I reminded our audience of the many pedagogical advantages of the novel in verse form and how that serves as a motivating advantage for teen and tween readers and as a natural form for performance as readers theater. 
Then we involved volunteers from the audience in performing excerpts from each of our authors' recent works, starting with Finding Wonders by Jeannine Atkins. Jeannine spoke about her process in researching and capturing these women's voices and persona from the past.   
More volunteers helped bring to life an excerpt from Patricia Hruby Powell's Loving vs. Virginia-- complete with a gum-smacking sheriff reader! And Patricia spoke about how this book came to be and about her path from dancer to storyteller to author and poet. 
Another small troop performed several passages from Margarita Engle's book, Lion Island, reflecting multiple characters and inviting the whole audience to chime in on the repeated word, "power!" Margarita spoke about the true story behind her work and the power of language to speak for freedom. 
Finally, we performed "Dracula" by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand from You Just Wait with the whole audience joining in on "shushing" where the poem requires it while two volunteers read the dialogue for Carmen and her sister. 
Janet spoke about her work in writing response poems to the poetry of others and weaving those poems all together to create a mini novel in verse-- or verse novella-- in You Just Wait.

She shared her poem in response to the "Dracula" poem here:

Then she shared two other examples of poems + response poems. Here's "Black Ice" by Joseph Bruchac (who was also at the conference):
Here's Janet's poem in response to "Black Ice."
Here's "Future Hoopsters" by Avis Harley, an acrostic poem.
Here's Janet's poem in response to "Future Hoopsters"-- also an acrostic poem, but one in which each initial WORD in each line (rather than the initial letter) creates a new sentence.
Now she's working on new poems in response to other poems for a new book we have in the works. (More on that later.) Janet shared one example of a poem-in-progress with the audience. Here's the initial poem, "'Break-Fast' at Night" by Ibtisam Barakat (who was also at the conference):
 Here's a draft of Janet's response poem:
Finally, we ended with this beautiful quote from First Lady, Michelle Obama, one of my favorites for wrapping things up:
What a great panel and responsive audience! You can find our complete handouts, including a comprehensive bibliography of novels in verse at the NCTE link hereThey're already soliciting proposals for next year's NCTE conference in St. Louis. Here's the link for submitting proposals (by Jan. 5).

Now head on over to Wee Words for Wee Ones where Bridget is hosting Poetry Friday! Enjoy!


Friday, November 18, 2016

Poetry Quotes +

I am a sucker for great quotes about the power of poetry! 

In fact, I have compiled tons of them and am always looking for more. I've made a whole slideshow of quotes that I often use before a presentation because I love combining powerful quotes with evocative images. And if I were a tattoo-ing kind of gal, I think I would put one on my body! The problem is: which one? There are so many I love! The next best thing? Put them on Pinterest! So, if you like poetry quotes like I do, you'll find all of my favorites here at Pinterest. And if you have more to share with me that you don't find there, please do! Meanwhile, I'll also post a few below to whet your appetite and push you to Pinterest! Enjoy!









Meanwhile, I am also happy to report that the amazing, incredible, and awesome Lee Bennett Hopkins has been elected to the Florida Artists' Hall of Fame! So lovely to see him recognized in this way in his own home state. Janet (Wong) and I offered a special tribute to him here at the NCTE conference in Atlanta:


Now head on over to Friendly Fairy Tales for this week's Poetry Friday celebration hosted by Brenda. See you there!


Friday, November 11, 2016

November BOOK LINKS: Jeannine Atkins and STEM

Have you seen the November issue of ALA's BOOK LINKS magazine? It's always such a helpful resource for teachers, librarians, and parents and this issue has a STEM focus. I was lucky enough to do an interview with the lovely Jeannine Atkins for this issue. Jeannine's work explores many aspects of science with a particular focus on the true stories of real women of science. Her latest book published this year, FINDING WONDERS, is about THREE women in history who followed their passion for science-- even from childhood. 

And here's a list of several of her books, including her book on writing:

Atkins, Jeannine. 1999. A Name on the Quilt: A Story of Remembrance. Atheneum.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2003. Wings and Rockets: The Story of Women in Air and Space. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2005. How High Can We Climb?: The Story of Women Explorers. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2012. Anne Hutchinson’s Way. CreateSpace.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2012. Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2013. Get Set! Swim! Lee & Low.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2013. Views from a Window Seat: Thoughts on Writing and Life. CreateSpace.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2015. Little Woman in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott. She Writes Press.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2016. Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.
Atkins, Jeannine. 2017. Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis. Simon & Schuster.
Atkins, Jeannine. Borrowed Names; Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters.
Atkins, Jeannine. Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneeering Naturalists.

This month's issue of BOOK LINKS is already available online, so here's the link for my article

And in case you can't access the link, here are a few excerpts.

TALKING WITH JEANNINE ATKINS

A friend told me recently that research has found that girls decide science is not for them by second grade. (See: http://policystudies.org/when-do-girls-give-up-on-math-and-science-its-all-over-sooner-than-you-think/) New England author and poet Jeannine Atkins is determined to change those perceptions and has created multiple books that put girls and women at the heart of science exploration, technological innovation, ingenious engineering, and mathematical inquiry (STEM!). Jeannine Atkins’s recent novel in verse, Finding Wonders, is one fantastic example of this with its depiction of three women in history whose passion for math, astronomy, paleontology, botany, and more is evident already in their young childhoods. In addition, Atkins’ books such as How High Can We Climb?: The Story of Women Explorers, Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists, Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon, Wings and Rockets: The Story of Women in Air and Space, Borrowed Names reveal a real passion for science, history, and biography, particularly in mining the untold stories of girls and women who ventured into these male-dominated fields long before Gloria Steinem (or even Elizabeth Cady Stanton) advocated for women’s rights and roles. Using careful research, thoughtful storytelling, lyrical language, and powerful portraits, Atkins honors real women in history whose lives and contributions deserve to be shared and celebrated with young readers of today. “What’s lost is found again.” Here she answers a handful of questions about poetry, science, feminism, biography, and the importance of fathers as models and encouragers. You may also enjoy her introspective book, Views from a Window Seat: Thoughts on Writing and Life.

SV: Can you describe the role poetry played in your childhood? When and how did you first discover a love for science, too?

JA: I grew up in a small New England town where I could wander in the woods, bicycle down back roads, and walk to the library. There wasn’t what we’d call a lot to do. In other words, it was a sort of golden age of childhood. In the attic of our old house, I found musty primers that I used to give my dolls lessons and memorized some poems. All these years later, some lines remain with me.

Poetry, science, and play blurred together. I cracked open rocks, made lists of birds and flowers, and collaborated with my brother on experiments using old glass cigar tubes as test tubes, but no one ever suggested I become a scientist. That’s okay. I lost most of my interest in science when cloud formations and maps of the earth’s core got swapped for abstractions. Who knows if anything would have been different if I was aware of women scientists, but I want to help today’s children know more possibilities. 

SV: How would you characterize the relationship between science and poetry, between being a scientist and being a poet?

JA: Poetry hints, explores, and doesn’t pounce onto certainty. Science is like that, too. For each question solved, another rises. Both poets and scientists may look closely at the world, make mistakes, try again, and wonder.

SV: You quote Maria Mitchell as saying, “Science needs women” and you clearly celebrate the achievements of girls and women in science in your writing. Where does this feminist perspective come from?

JA: Writing was a pleasure for me as a child, but in high school, my memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Alcott faded under reading lists with just a few poems by Emily Dickinson and stories by Eudora Welty among bulky novels written by men. Curriculums have become more diverse, but women remain underrepresented in science. I like the thrill of the hunt to find what’s partly buried. And it’s another joy to introduce young readers to women who pursued their dreams. Reading can show us we’re never alone.

SV: What do you think biographical poetry might offer that a nonfiction prose biography might not?

JA: Biographies don’t always suggest the sense of a life in context, such as the sounds of waves, the slickness of rocks, or the scent of the night sky by the salt water where discoveries were made. Some fact-heavy nonfiction can give the wrong impression that everything has been discovered. Poetry’s compression, imagery, and omissions may create a sense of mystery that reflects the way nature keeps surprising us. 

SV: You’ve authored several different books about girls and women and science—some in verse, some in prose. How do you decide which you are writing and which story must be told in verse?

JA: There’s often more blundering than choosing, or I work my way through the wrong form before finding one that’s better. I first wrote Borrowed Names as prose, but it seemed to grow more alive under my hands when I took out words. Sometimes nonfiction can seem too long. And sometimes poems may seem too short. 

I loved writing small poems about how Jean-Henri Fabre got his children involved in his study of insects and the mathematical work of Florence Nightingale for The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. A poem can be a window into a life. But for Finding Wonders I wanted to spend more time with my subjects. Verse narratives can be the perfect way to use poetry’s precision along with the wondering of “What happens next? And then?” 

Writing the linked poems let me show what led to discoveries, as well as how girls devoted to science also cared about neighbors, families, religion, a friend’s choice in shoes, whether the chowder was hot, or other everyday concerns. Sure, science needs devotion, but even Marie Curie made time to bicycle with her daughters and tend a rose garden. 

SV: Why do you think fathers are so important in the lives and stories of female scientists?

JA: It’s said that every father of a girl becomes a feminist. Maybe that’s wishful, but the fathers in the families shown in Finding Wonders wanted to share their passions, needed help with their work, and didn’t discriminate between daughters and sons. Even today, fathers are more likely than mothers to have science and engineering knowledge to pass on, and men who don’t have sons seem more likely to ask daughters to help them fix the car or plumbing, ensuring that girls feel competent with making measurements and using tools. Hurray for those dads!

TEACHING ACTIVITIES

1. Read Finding Wonders aloud as a class or group book selection. Select passages can even be read readers’ theater style with volunteers taking the parts of the main characters/subjects Maria Merian, Mary Anning, and Maria Mitchell, as well as their dads, moms, siblings, and friends. You serve as narrator reading the rest of the lines. Talk about each of these women and what she accomplished in her life. Then work together to add visuals so students can truly picture the era in which each of these women grew up and worked (Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717); Mary Anning (1799 -1847); Maria Mitchell (1818–1889). Check out the “Finding Wonders Timeline” at the author’s website. Collaborate to create a slideshow featuring these images and reading (and recording) a poem or two about each woman from Finding Wonders. Share during an Open House or Science Fair. 

2. In Finding Wonders, Atkins makes it clear that each woman’s interest in science, math, or engineering is rooted in her childhood explorations, hobbies, and interests (e.g., painting outside, hunting and collecting, numbers and puzzles, stargazing, etc.) In many cases, each girl had several interests (in drawing or painting AND in studying nature, for example) that evolved into true scientific inquiry. Talk with students about their hobbies and interests and point out how these may offer STEM connections. Research possible career paths that might emerge from these interests using websites like SmithsonianEducation.org/Scientist/ or ScienceBuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science_careers.shtml or Discovere.org/discover-engineering/engineering-careers or CareerCornerstone.org/muscenters.htm Invite guest speakers (particularly women) who work in these fields to talk with students about their own STEM work and the roots of their interests too. 

3. What other women have been unheralded in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics? Work together to research more names worthy of exploration using books like Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky or Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh or Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee and websites such as Biography.com or FamousFemaleScientists.com or AMightyGirl.com. Students can choose a women scientist subject, then take notes or jot key words describing her and her contributions and examining what is known about her childhood, in particular. They can begin with the women featured in Atkins’s works: Maria Merian, Mary Anning, Maria Mitchell, Anna Comstock, Frances Hamerstrom, Rachel Carson, Miriam Rothschild, Jane Goodall, Jeanne Baret, Florence Baker, Annie Smith Peck, Josephine Peary, Arnarulunguaq, Elizabeth Casteret, Nicole Maxwell, Sylvia Earle, Junko Tabei, Kay Cottee, Sue Hendrickson, Ann Bancroft, Katharine Wright, Blanche Stuart Scott, Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, Jackie Cochran, Jerrie Cobb, Shannon Lucid, Eileen Collins, Marguerite Perey, Florence Nightingale, and Marie Curie. Then challenge students to take those details and turn them into a free verse poem or biopoem and make a class poetry book of STEM women heroes for Women’s History Month in March, National Poetry Month in April, or for sharing any time. For more examples of poems about women in science, look for The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science


I'm also happy to say that I'll be presenting with Jeannine and several other poets including Margarita Engle, Patricia Hruby Powell, and Janet Wong at the annual conference of the National Council of Teachers of English next week in Atlanta. If you're going to the conference, I hope you'll join us and if not, I'll try to post some nuggets from the conference later. 


Meanwhile, join the Poetry Friday fun over at Jama's Alphabet Soup. She always throws the very best parties! See you there!