For this month’s Poetry magazine issue, Lemony Snicket selects 20 poems for a feature called All Good Slides Are Slippery: Poetry Not Written for Children That Children Might Nevertheless Enjoy.” He begins, “The poems contained in this children’s poetry portfolio are not made for children. Poetry is like a curvy slide in a playground — an odd object, available to the public — and, as I keep explaining to my local police force, everyone should be able to use it, not just those of a certain age.”

The feature is accompanied by illustrations from acclaimed violinist and children’s book illlustrator, Chris Raschka (author of the darkly humorous Arlene Sardine), and includes poems by Carl Sandburg, John Ashbery, and Richard Brautigan, amongst others.

Regarding Eileen Myles’ poem called “Uppity,” Snicket comments, “’Uppity’ refers to someone who acts as if they are more important than they are, as in the sentence ‘Is it uppity of Lemony Snicket, who is not a poet and knows very little about poetry, to edit his own poetry portfolio?’”
We’ll leave it up to you to decide.

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Photo: Daniel Handler, Mr. Snicket’s official representative, by Tausif Noor

Happy to be Nappy (1999) by bell hooks, illustrated by Chris Raschka.

This sweet book is fun for all kids, but focuses specifically on girls hair. You will be swept up in the verve and swing of its words and pictures. Really, this one is just pure joy. 

Girlpie hair smells clean and sweet
is soft like cotton, flower petal billowy soft,
full of frizz and fuzz…

It can be smooth or patted down
pulled tight, cut close
or just let go so the wind can carry it
all over the place. 

(Image source)

2012 Caldecott and Newbery Winners
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A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka 
(Schwartz & Wade, image via The Horn Book)

Caldecott honors went to Patrick McDonnell (Me…Jane), John Rocco (Blackout), and Lane Smith (Grandpa Green). It is very interesting to note that all four illustrators also wrote the books for which they won. (This doesn’t happen every year.) I am especially excited for John Rocco, as I am a big fan of his work!

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Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell 
(Little, Brown, image via The Horn Book)

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Blackout by John Rocco 
(Hyperion, image via Kirkus Reviews)

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Grandpa Green by Lane Smith 
(Roaring Brook Press, image via The Horn Book)

Keep reading

Skin Again by bell hooks

“The skin I’m in is just a covering. It cannot tell my story.”

I have not had a quote impact me like the one above, in quite some time. It has left me pondering about all sorts of things. Like a punch in the stomach. Then I wonder what it feels like for a child to read it.

Skin Again by bell hooks is a really special book. It reads very simply, it isn’t very long, like a piece of prose. The words/phrases are completed as you turn the pages (think Eric Carle style). The message is simple. It is just skin, it is not me, not the person I am on the inside.

The illustrations are simple, like dabs and strokes of paint to show many different children.

The main points it makes is like when the book says

If you want to know who I am

you have got to come inside

and open your heart way wide.

This is not the first book I have encountered by bell hooks, I’ve read Be Boy Buzz (a poem about all things boy) and then there is the more well known Happy to be Nappy. Bell hooks is actually just a pen name for the author. She is an amazing educator on feminism, race, gender, and a social activist.

If you would like to know more about bell, go ahead and go on Youtube and punch in her name. You will see all kinds of videos on the subjects she focuses on. This particular one on Cultural Criticism and Transformation really moved me. It is part of a series (beware that there are some clips in this video that might make it NSFW). This video and the accompanying ones speak more to adults and university students than to children, but I think it is still relevant since I believe that what we see are the results of discrepancies in childhood.

It makes me wonder who is this book written for? Is it a black book? A white book? Does it even matter? I think it is for everyone.


“The loneliness of being bullied is the great horror of it,” says Caldecott-Medal-winning Chris Raschka. “All a book can do,” notes award-winning author/illustrator Rosemary Wells, “is give the child who is bullied a little refuge.”

Acclaimed authors and artists Raschka, Chris Riddell, Paul Stewart, Wells, Dean Koontz and Jane Yolen discuss the problem of bullying from an intensely personal perspective.


A Ball For Daisy - An Illustrated Picture Book By Chris Raschka:

The winner of the 2012 Randolph Caldecott Medal, A Ball For Daisy tells the story about love and loss in a way that only Chris Raschka and his beautiful paintwork could tell it. Throughout the book we explore the joy that a new toy can bring, which children easily relate to, and the devastation caused when that certain toy breaks or is broken by someone else.

The picture book market is approached in a different way by Chris Raschka, as it is littered with cartoonist impressions of characters and events, whilst Raschka relates to his audience with a suggestive, colourful journey with paint. He portrays the narrative in such a loose way, both children and parents are asked to use their imagination in order to communicate with the semiotic language that he uses throughout A Ball For Daisy.

Raschka’s identifiable swirling paint strokes, and impressionistic style tells an emotional, affectionate story that any child will be able to connect with - especially children with dogs, or children that are trying to deal with a loss of one of their favourite things.

To buy A Ball For Daisy, or to find out more, click here.

A Ball For Daisy

This past week, I went to my local library to pick up a children’s book “A Ball For Daisty” by Chris Raschka. This book just won the American Library Association’s 2012 Caldecott award for the most distinguished American picture book for children.

When I got the book, I was expecting a cute story about a dog and her ball. It is an endearing story but, the book is beyond cute. The book is all illustrated with no words but the story is well told. Each page is filled with emotion and love. Since the book has no words, it gives the storyteller liberty to add to the story.

I love this book but, more importantly my children love this book.  I suggest you take the opportunity to treat yourself and your children to a delightful story.