Saturday, April 30, 2011

Poem #30 -- With Apologies to Mr. WCW

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Kevin H.

This is Just to Say

I have written
the poems
that appeared in 
my life

and which
I've gathered like
plums in a bowl

forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
so unexpectedly sweet.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011

Well. There you have it. Thirty poems in thirty days. 

Thank you, blog readers, for indulging me in this project. For being patient with this shift in our usual blog focus. We'll return to our usual programming next week.

I am relieved to be finished -- I'll gladly let go of the pressure of producing a poem fit for public consumption every single day. And yet...and yet...

Franki said something to me mid-month that has really stuck with me: "Now that you're living like a poet..." That's really what happened this year. Every day I was on the lookout for the words or image or idea that would become that day's poem. It felt very similar to the way I carry my camera with me at all times, looking for the shots that will become my monthly mosaic. It rejuvenated my writer's notebook.

I was going to say that I think this year's poems are better than last year's, but reading back, I think they're just different, not better or worse. Last year I seemed to focus more on forms, finding the words to fit. This year I followed a trail of words, and created or used the form that seemed to fit. I have begun to live like a poet.

Happy National Poetry Month 2011! 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Poem #29 -- Mammogram Twitkus

Luckiest bummer:
cancer found in first mammo...
thirteen years ago.

Thirteen years gone by
and still, test anxiety:
mammography day.

a dream -- you are sedated.
Mammo's a real smash.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011

Again today, I urge you to take a minute to read David Elzey's twitkus (Twitter+haikus) from

the first week of poetry month
the second week of poetry month
the third week of poetry month

His twitkus have evolved from blues haikus and Burma Shave haikus into quasi-blues and bummers.

Yesterday's trio of haiku bummers were inspired by @delzey's twitkus, and it didn't take too much encouragement from Tabatha to try some more today. I don't like these three quite as much as yesterday's. They're not as punny. But sometimes you have to write about what's on your mind.

Coincidentally, the roundup for today is at Tabatha's blog, The Opposite of Indifference.

Happy Last Friday of National Poetry Month, but mostly, Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I heard about LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY from @MrSchuReads on Twitter. He always knows the best books. I ordered it right away and LOVE it. I love this character. How can this cover illustration not make you happy? I mean, just look at that face! Katie and Jerry Davis (a husband and wife team) have created an amazing story about a character I love. It seems like a simple story but somehow there is depth to these characters. I had the same feelings reading this book that I did when I first read DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS by Mo Willems. First of all, I knew this book needed to be shared with young children as soon as possible. Somehow the author and illustrator have created a character I came to love almost immediately--one whose personality comes through in what appears to be simple text and simple illustration. (but is so not simple!)  And these authors have an amazing sense of the age they write for. Every time I read the book, I notice some other little detail I missed the first time. I love this Little Chicken more every time I read it. This is the first book that Katie and Jerry have created together and I hope there are more. (A new series, maybe????)

The story is about a little chicken who goes to run errands with his "Big Chicken". She is in a hurry and reminds him to do lots of things, hurrying him along. He lets her know that he hears her with a darling phrase that appears throughout the book, "I hear you cluckin' Big Chicken." A great new story to fall in love with.

I read this book to our Kindergarten kids today. I knew immediately that this one would make my BOOKS I COULD READ A MILLIONS TIMES list. They loved Little Chicken right away and giggled and smiled throughout the book. (Like I said, how could you NOT love this character?) They loved joining in to say, "I hear you cluckin' Big Chicken." Between readings, I had the book sitting on a table near the check out desk and a few teachers walked past. They, too, fell immediately in love with Little Chicken before opening the book.

You probably know Katie's other books (KINDERGARTEN ROCKS and WHO HOPS?) but if you haven't had a chance to check out her website, blog and BRAIN BURPS ABOUT BOOKS (which is now also an app :-) , they are definitely things you must make time for in your life!

Did I mention how much we all LOVED the endpages?

When I first read about this book from @MrSchuReads, I noticed that he had purchased 3 copies at once. Now I understand why. You might as well buy several copies of this book at a time too. You'll want one for your classroom and/or library, one for yourself at home, and extras for any gifts you have to buy for the children in your life. Buy a whole stack :-)

Poem #28 -- Inspired by the #npm #twitkus of @delzey

Take a minute to read David Elzey's twitkus (Twitter+haikus) from

the first week of poetry month
the second week of poetry month
the third week of poetry month

His twitkus have evolved from blues haikus and Burma Shave haikus into quasi-blues and bummers.

He has inspired me to write a trio of haiku bummers.

I went to the bank.
My poetry account's dry.
Need luck to reverse.

Tried to grade math tests.
Fell asleep with pen in hand.
My work multiplies.

It's raining again.
Let's make like the new year and
Wring out this season.

all three ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Favorite Series: Columbus Zoo Books For Young Readers

Colo's Story: The Life of One Grand Gorilla (Columbus Zoo Books for Young Readers Collection)
Colo's Story: The Life of One Grand Gorilla
by Nancy Roe Pimm
forward by Jack Hanna
School Street Media, 2011
review copy purchased for my classroom

Isn't there always one student in your class who wants to be a zoologist when they grow up? If you're lucky enough to live in a city with a fabulous zoo, like the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, that child can fuel his passion with visits to the zoo, zoo camps, and best of all, the possibility of volunteer work when he gets older.

In between trips to the zoo, there are now three books in the Columbus Zoo Books For Young Readers series (see my review of Frenemies for Life and Beco's Big Year). In the newest book of this trio, local author Nancy Roe Pimm has written a fabulous biography of the Columbus Zoo's gorilla matriarch Colo. But it's more than just a biography of one special animal, it is a history of the impact of one gorilla on the growth of the Columbus Zoo into a world-class zoo, research facility and conservation partner. In fact, Colo and her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have influenced zoos, gorilla research and gorilla conservation world-wide. Pretty impressive, when you consider her birth -- the first zoo-born gorilla in the world:
"When Warren Dean Thomas found a newborn gorilla barely alive on the floor of her mother's habitat at the Columbus Zoo more than five decades ago, no one really understood the profound influence this tiny baby would have."
Why I love this series:
1. It's about animals at our local zoo.
2. They are written by local authors.
3. They are filled with fabulous photos.

Poem #27 -- I Want To Be

I want to be a goose.
I want to stand on the roof with my neck stuck out, honking and honking.

I want to be a redwing blackbird.
I want to hold onto the cattail with both feet and sing ko-ka-reeeeee out across the ditch.

I want to be a hawk.
I want to drop like a rock from the wire and land sharp-taloned on a field mouse.

I want to be a nuthatch.
I want to run upside down on the trunk of the big oak searching for insects with my bead eyes.

I want to be a bird.
I want to launch myself into the wind and understand aerodynamics instinctively.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

You Can Never Have Enough Books That Invite Readers to Make Car Noises, Can You?

I found two great books this week that somehow belong together.  Both are for those readers who just love cars, trucks, and vehicles.
MITCHELL'S LICENSE by Hallie Durand is great fun. Definitely one of my favorite reads lately--one I can't wait to share with kids. The story is about Mitchell, an almost four year-old.  Here is how the story begins:  "Mitchell never ever EVER wanted to go to bed.  Until his dad finally said he could drive there". This is one of those books where the words and the illustrations are both necessary in the story. Both play equal parts in the fun.
Through the text, we learn that each night, Mitchell inspects his car's tires, checks the engine, cleans off the windshield and drives.  The illustrations let us in on the fun. Mitchell's dad is the car and they both have a ball with this new bedtime routine.  This book is great fun.  The illustrations by Tony Fucile (of LET'S DO NOTHING and BINK AND GOLLIE) are perfect. They capture the spirit and the love in this relationship. Every page makes me smile.

Along with this book, I found another fun book-CARS GALORE by Peter Stein- that could go in a basket on cars, trucks and vehicles. This would also make for a fun read aloud but for totally different reasons.  This is a rhyming book filled with cars of every kind.   For example:

Black car, green car,
nice car, mean car.
Near car, far car.
Whoa! Bizarre car!

This book is fun to read aloud.  It will also make for a fun "I-Spy" type of reading where readers look for the cars described in the text.

Poem #26 -- Slow Down and Focus

Take off your shoes
And leave behind the stress of the day.
Imitate the instructor's moves; lose yourself with

Careful choreography of movement.
Here is the place, now is the time.
I am one.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Poem # 25 -- Life, With Poetry Strewn

The poetry of an impromptu
Easter brunch.

The poetry of chickadees toodling.

The poetry of a completed to-do

The poetry of trees in bloom.

The poetry of the world through
a camera lens.

The poetry of Sunday afternoon
at the coffee shop.

Life, with poetry strewn.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Poem # 24 -- Rain


sprinkles, drips and drops
umbrella, boots and slops




grey skies threaten
lightening frightens


rising rivers
chilly shivers


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Poem #23 -- A Pair of Spring Haikus

All of a sudden
dandelions shout with joy.
Yardies...not so much.

Inner city nest
Tricky place to raise your chicks
 But it can be done

Friday, April 22, 2011

Poem #22 and Poetry Friday -- Controversy

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Stephen Downes

Poetry is an interruption of silence.
Prose is the continuation of noise.

Poetry is a bird.
Prose is a potato.

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by PaKKiTo 

No copyright again today. We'll call this a "found poem." These are Billy Collins' words, spoken at the poetry reading I went to on Wednesday. Since his words/my found poem yesterday sparked some lively discussion, I thought I'd go ahead with another "found poem" that seems to have controversy (pun intended) at its heart.

What pair of metaphors would you propose for poetry and prose? (Obviously, Billy Collins is a leeetle biased towards poetry!!)

The roundup today is at Book Aunt. Happy Friday! Happy Poetry Month! Happy Spring! Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Happy!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Like Pickle Juice on a CookieI always love when I pick up a great, new short chapter book. This week I picked up LIKE PICKLE JUICE ON A COOKIE by Julie Sternberg.  This is the story of Eleanor. Eleanor is eight years old and learns that he lifelong babysitter, Bibi, is moving away. It is a hard time for Eleanor as she deals with the transition.

The book is told in verse. It is a good length--119 pages and there are illustrations throughout.  That is what I love about this book. It is a great book for readers of early chapter books because it has some depth--a real issue that young children can relate to.  I also think older kids would like it because of this.  If I taught older elementary grades, this would go in the "Novels in Verse" basket.  I think readers of those books would love the addition of this one. For younger readers, this book provides a great option for advanced readers who are looking for a chapter book that is appropriate and meaningful for them.

Poem #21 -- Overheard


The reason there is so much bad poetry written
is that the tools of poetry are so accessible --
with pencil and paper anyone can write a poem,
unlike, say, playing the saxophone,
which requires the instrument and some lessons.
And who could just go out and start hacking
at a block of marble and make a sculpture on the first try?

The training for writing poetry is in the library.
Reading poetry.
Reading deeply.

And you find your voice by 
being jealous of other poets.
By reading other poets.

You write poetry because of 
an urge to emulate,
to imitate.

No copyright on these words, folks, because Billy Collins said them -- I just wrote them down. What he said about bad poetry...ouch. I feel like a poser with this "tra-la-la, I'll write a poem a day" project. And yet, what he said about reading poetry, and the urge to emulate...I do that! I have nearly every book of poetry he's published, plus one long and two short shelves of other poetry books (not to mention Amy LV's The Poem Farm, the weekly impromptu anthology known as Poetry Friday, and The Writer's Almanac). 

Billy Collins has a new book of poetry, published just this month:
Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems

And now I have a whole new slew of favorite Collins poems, such as the five-liner that made the crowd burst into laughter, the one that riffs off a comment overheard in a restaurant ("I was like give me a break"), the one about having a hangover and listening to kids playing Marco Polo, the poem about memorizing a poem. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Favorite Series: Fox and Hen

Fox and Hen Together (Stories Without Words)
Fox and Hen Together
by Beatrice Rodriguez
Enchanted Lion Books, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher

The surprise in Chicken Thief (a PW Best Book of 2010), the first book in this trilogy (watch for Rooster's Revenge in September), is that when the fox steals the chicken, the outcome is happily ever after and not chicken feathers at the corners of fox's mouth. In this book, Chicken leaves Fox in charge of her egg while she goes out to catch a fish for dinner. The adventure that ensues for Chicken takes up the rest of the book, except for the part at the end where there's a surprise with that egg.

I'm not telling. Sorry. You'll have to read it for yourself.

Why I love this series:
1. It's more than just the Fox and the Chicken, it's a whole series of wordless books that Enchanted Lion is doing called Stories Without Words. (see also my review of ICE by Arthur Geisert)
2. The size and shape of the books -- they are different from other books -- long and skinny.
3. Wordless picture books are "just right" books for EVERY reader in my classroom.

Poem #20 -- Happy Birthday, Franki !!


We're the cupcakes,
You're the frosting.
You're the sprinkles on the top!

We're the shelves,
You're the books.
You could practically be the shop!

You're the fulcrum
of our balance.
You remind us to stay sane!

You're the laughter
that brightens our days.
A toast to you, with poetic champagne!

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011

I hope you'll add your birthday wishes to Franki in the comments! Help me celebrate a fabulous blogging partner, a good friend, and a dynamic teacher/librarian. Three cheers for Franki !!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Seed, Soil, SunI picked up quite the fun pile of books at the Debbie Miller workshop this weekend. One book that I am really excited about is SEED SOIL SUN by Cris Peterson.  This is a nonfiction book with gorgeous photographs.

I was surprised at how much I loved the writing in this book and how much I actually learned. I assumed this would tell me about plants growing as so many other books do.  But this book takes a unique look at the topic. Each page has several gorgeous photos accompanied by a bit of text giving details about the way plants grow. I loved information like this, "Microscopic one-celled bacteria that munch away on dead leaves and insects in the soil are so minute that it would take a thousand of them lined up in a row to reach across the head of a pin."  The author does a great job of creating visuals that help readers understand difficult concepts.

One of the interesting new things I learned, was, "Each handful of soil contains more living things than all the human beings on Earth."

The author does a great job of making this book accessible to young readers and at the same time introduces very sophisticated concepts ideas.

The length of this book makes it good for both read aloud and independent reading.

Poem #19 -- Life

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by ADoseofShipBoy


the price of gasoline
pistachio ice cream

bunches of daisies

stages of cancer
a friend with the answer

haze in the sky
pecan pie


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Patrick Carman on Multimedia Books

I recently had the opportunity to interview author, Patrick Carman for Choice Literacy. In this podcast, Patrick Carman talks about his commitment to literacy and the role multimedia can play in hooking kids into reading.  If you are interested, you can listen to the podcast on the Choice Literacy site.

Patrick Carman also talked about this at a recent TED NYEd Talk.

If you had not had a chance to hear Patrick Carman speak about Mutlimedia books and the doors they can open, I would highly recommend it. He really helped me see possibilities for students that I hadn't seen before.  Also, if you had not had time to take a look at his multimedia books (Skeleton Creek, Trackers) or his new 3:15 project, they are brilliant.  I promise they will totally hook you.  Great stories and amazing use of various forms of media.  I love the fact that Carman has some multimedia books and then more traditional books that kids can go to once they get hooked on his writing.

Poem #18 -- To Educate


My students are the
for all that I

All day long I

For some I must
for others I

On my best days I
fascinate and

On the other days I



©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011

*Funambulate -- to walk or dance on a tight rope.

**dubiate -- to doubt

Sunday, April 17, 2011


This week in the library, we are having a POETRY PICNIC! There is no food at this picnic, but we are just getting a taste of poetry. The library is set up to look like a picnic and there are about 20 places that kids can choose from--places to try things having to do with poetry. My big goal is to get kids' hands on different types of poetry books and to give them time to explore poetry with friends. Classes come to the library every 4 days and we'll keep the picnic set up for 2 rotations. The library is set up so that students can be independent--with directions at each station inviting them to try some things. Many of the tables are set up with a certain type of poetry for kids to read together or on their own. Below are some of the things kids can choose from:

At this table, students can read poems from Georgia Heard's book FALLING DOWN THE PAGE. I have also included skinny strips of paper and pencils at this table so kids can try their own list poetry writing.

I love the POETRY TAG TIME kindle book that Mary Lee told me about. Several children's poets got together to play poetry tag and write poetry. One poet began and tagged another. The next poet writes a poem that is connected in some way and tags someone else. Most of our kids don't have any experience with ebook readers so just putting this out to play with has been good.

I have several song and poetry apps on the ipods. TALES2GO has a poem that kids can listen to. DUCK DUCK MOOSE has several songs, and I just discovered POET KIDS which is like magnetic poetry on the ipod.

I gathered many food poems and food poetry books. At this table, kids can read poems about food and make a place mat. After weaving the place mat, kids then add some food poems to the place mat. Some books at this table are WHAT'S ON THE MENU?, EATS and FRANKENSTEIN MAKES A SANDWICH.

FOLD ME A POEM by Kristine O'Connell George has always been popular in our library. I found directions for making the dog in the book on George's website. At this table, kids can read the poems and make the dog or other items from the book.

Many kids have never taken the time to look at the great shape poems in books such as DOODLE DANDIES. This table is full of those. I may introduce TAGXEDO this week so that kids can create their own shape poems with this tool.

This table includes many song books. A new favorite is IF YOU'RE HOPPY AND YOU KNOW IT. Alan Katz's books such as TAKE ME OUT OF THE BATHTUB are also popular. Kids are having a ball finding the accompanying songs on the Internet and playing clapping games with others (such as MISS MARY MACK).

One table celebrates playing with words. Included are games such as Bananagrams and Hinky Pinky and books. The books invite kids to play with words in a variety of ways. Some of the favorites are ANIMAL SOUP, MOM AND DAD ARE PALINDROMES and 13 WORDS.

I found POETRY SPLATTER on RIF's website. (Thanks, Carol!)  I put this up on the Smartboard and kids are having fun dragging over words to create their own poems.

This table has lots of fun poetry books to read with friends.  The YOU READ TO ME series as well as JOYFUL NOISE are part of this table for kids to read together.

Computers are set up for students to explore websites such as GIGGLE POETRY, POETRY4KIDS, and Shel Silverstein's website.

This table only houses the new poetry book LEMONADE, some magnetic letters, pencils and paper. Students can read and enjoy the poems and also try some of their own scrambled poetry here.

Other spaces include pillows for reading poems by favorite poets, a table with Acrostic and Haiku and a space to try Poetry Riddles.

We are all looking forward to a fun week of poetry!