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Friday, April 29, 2011


This is the 2011 winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:

C.M. Millen, C. M. 2010. The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane. Ill. by Andrea Wisnewski. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN: 978-1-58089-179-0

Here is a Digital Trailer for THE INK GARDEN created by graduate student Wendy Wagner (in South Korea) and available at YouTube and here.

There are TWO Readers' Guides for THE INK GARDEN.

Here is a Readers' Guide for THE INK GARDEN created by graduate student Maura Grady.

Recommended Age Levels 4-8

Summary of Book
This book is as much a work of art as the illuminated manuscripts that it talks of thanks to the colorful and detailed art work of Andrea Winewski. In this English Language verse, by C. M. Millen, the tale of a bored monk, of northeastern Ireland who is sent from his scrivener’s desk by the teacher of novice monks to the kitchen to make dye. Up until this incident all colors in the life of the monks in the scriptorium were different shades of brown. The Brown of their robes, the hues of their ink, the color of the bread they eat and the shade of the parchment that books are copied on. Upon taking a trip into the woods to get more bark for the brown ink production Theophane takes a needed rest and eats some black berries only to find his hands our colored purple. He sets about to gather the different plants for experimentation. Then one evening he slips up to the scriptorium and produces some written pages in numerous colors. After this the other monks produced books with vibrant colors.

Review Excerpts
The poetic text, written mostly in rhymed even lines with some touches of humor, tells the story of young Theophane, who reacts to the sights and sounds of nature by noting what he sees on torn parchment pieces, which appear on the illustrated pages of this book. He is reprimanded by the eldest brother and assigned the task of making brown ink. When his supply of bark dwindles, he goes to the woods to find more, returning with berries, flowers, roots, and leaves from which he makes colorful inks that he applies to his own doodles using brushes made from donkey-tail hairs. And so, Theophane illuminates both the lives of his brothers and their calligraphy.

- School Library Journal
Words and pictures alike are infused with a sense of the monks’ joy in their faith and work as well as Theophane’s delight in the natural world. Written in rhythmic, rhyming, and near-rhyming verse, the simple story unfolds in a satisfying way, accompanied by short poems inspired by the writings of medieval Irish monks.
- Booklist
The text includes a few verses in Theophane's voice, which are based on scraps of poems written by Irish monks of the Middle Ages. Wisnewski's gorgeous hand-colored prints are composed of strong black line and interlaced color and pattern. There are echoes of the Book of Kells and other Celtic illumination, but children will especially respond to the borders of apples and berries, the patterned stonework and the black-and-white cat that appears on almost every page.
- Kirkus Reviews
In the Mourne Mountains of Northern Ireland, a young monk is given the task of making ink for the manuscripts that are laboriously hand-copied in the monastery. Inspired by nature, he experiments with making vibrant colors from plants and flowers in the forest, allowing the monks to cover their pages with "heavenly hues." The simple story is told in a verse style that reminded me of Ludwig Bemelmans' classic Madeline stories

Awards/Honors Received
*** Winner of the 2011 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award
*** Spirituality and Practice's Best Spiritual Books 2010

Questions to Ask before Reading
Encourage students to discuss the following questions before reading The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane.
*** Before reading the book, have students examine the cover of the book. Ask them what they think the book is about? What is the job done by the man on the cover?
*** Can the students make any inferences about the man on the cover? Is he young? Is he a student?
*** Ask the students to look at the items on the front cover and identify the living things and non-living things.
*** Ask students if anyone knows what a monk is?
*** Ask students, what is a monastery?
*** Ask students to describe how they would write and make a book if they could not use a computer and printer?

Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
*** Read the first page of verse. Have the students look at the illustrations on the first and second pages, then ask them to identify the items in the verse
o Blackberries
o Blue Berries
o Wood Glens
o Brown robes
o Brown Bread

*** Ask the young readers what the first page has told them about brother Theophane?
*** After reading the second page of the book have the students make predictions about the lives of the monks.
*** Pause at the end of the page when brother Theophane is asked to leave the copy room, ask the students if they would have removed Theophane from his duties in the room?
*** After reading the whole story, ask the students if they like brother Theophane?
*** After reading the entire book tell the students that this period in time was called the Dark Ages, Ask them why they would consider the time period in which Theophane lived the Dark Ages?

Follow Up Activities

(Grades 2 to 4)
*** Write a poem about your favorite colors. Consider the following pre-writing activities:
*** Prior to writing the poem have students sit still and close their eyes and think about their favorite colors. How do those colors make them feel?
*** Hold up large photos of primarily one color. Ask students to make a note of how each color makes them feel the first few moments they look at it. Have them keep their motes for reference while writing their poems.
*** Ask students how do you feel when you are surrounded by only one color no variety?
*** Have students summarize the poetic verse into the form of a news paper article. Ask them to break into small groups. They should think up a headline for their article, a brief description of why brother Theophane’s work was important and describe how the story ends.

(Grades 2 to 4)
*** Discuss the fact that there were no electronic calculators for doing math so an abacus was used. Demonstrate the use of an abacus and let the students try using on in small groups.
(Grade 5)
*** Find a simple recipe for making ink. Identify the ratios involved. Demonstrate to students the use of a ratio in taking a recipe for making say 100 ml of ink to extending the recipe to make 500 ml of ink.

(Grades 4 to 5)
*** As an activity have the students design a scale model of the scriptorium out of cardboard.
- Have students break up into small groups.
- Students can study the parts of verse and illustrations that describe the scriptorium where the monks copied texts.
- Students could estimate the following quantities:
o The number of monks to accommodate
o How many windows
o Have students turn off the electric light in the classroom and have them estimate how close the desks should be to the window. They can then measure the distance to the window. They can then measure the distance between desks and tables in their classroom for the passing of people between desks. Explain to them the concept of a scale model and have them select an appropriate scale such as 1 foot is 2 inches.
- Construct a floor plan to test the scale
- Once a good floor plan is established cut out cardboard to make boxes for representing the desks etc.
- Color can be added later.

(Grade 1)
*** Primary Colors: Red-Green-Blue (RGB) The objective is to teach students about the primary colors that all colors can be constructed from. This activity can be shared with the Art teacher.
- Materials:
1. red, green, blue food coloring
2. a can of white icing
3. paper plates (one for each student)
4. pretzel sticks
- Procedure:
1. Put 3 spoonfuls of icing on each child's plate.
2. Put a drop of blue food coloring on one spoonful, a drop of red food coloring on one spoonful, and a drop of yellow food coloring on the last spoonful.
3. Give the children 3 pretzel sticks.
4. Allow them to experiment mixing the colors together with their pretzel sticks. You can even let them create and name new colors.
5. Of course they may get to sample the treat when they are finished.

(Grade 2 to 3)
*** After having read the book aloud get additional copies and have groups of students go through the books at a slower pace. They should make two lists. They should classify all of objects or things that are considered ” matter” as, “Living” or “Non-Living”. This includes items that appear as illustrations as well as words. Students can then classify the items of matter into three of the four accepted forms of matter. Those being solids, liquids, or gases. Do not discuss the fourth form of matter “Plasma” the text has only one example of this, that being the fire over which brother Theophane cooks the brown ink.

(Grades 1 to 2)
*** After reading the book have students make a list of all the items that Brother Theophane found to make ink. Have the students classify the items. First classify the items by whether they are “living” or “non-living “ things. Then ask the students to classify the items as animals or plants. Have students search online for images of the items.

(Grades 3 to 4)
*** Types of Resources: Discuss with a class that energy is the ability to do work. To move objects, to alter their physical properties and change their chemical properties.
*** After reading the entire book ask students to consider what it was like living in Brother Theophane’s time period? What sources of energy did the people living in the Dark ages have for use in making items or doing daily chores. Do not forget to discuss the use of passive solar energy with the students. Passive solar energy for drying objects, lighting desks by windows. Other forms of energy you should elicit from a class of young people are as follows:

o Manual energy, animal powered, human power. Threshing of wheat by hand.
o Gravitational Potential Energy: Such as water wheels. (Students need not remember or learn GPE as a name or term but should be guided to the idea that the force of gravity helps people do work.)
o Kinetic Energy (Energy of Motion) Wind energy.
o Passive Solar.
o Heat energy. Used for cooking and baking.

*** The science teacher should coordinate with the social studies teacher to discuss the type of occupations that people other than the monks practiced at this time such as being a “miller” grinding flour. What was flour like back in the dark ages, more or less a whole-wheat.
o A discussion on the “brown bread” the monks eat can be discussed. The teacher can inquire if the students have eaten “brown bread” samples can be brought in for the students to taste and examine under magnifying lenses for cross comparison with plain white bread. Collaboration can be instigated with the health/nutritional professional at the school for discussing the health benefits of Brown Bread. The teacher or librarian could also design a lesson plan on the topic.

Social Studies
(Grades 1 to 3)
*** Show the students a globe and ask them where they are? Then ask any of them if they can locate Ireland. Afterwards. Break the students into groups of 4 or 5 for a map exercise. Give each group a map of Ireland.
- Ask each group of students to locate the Mourne Mountains. Once every group has identified the Mourne Mountains discuss the physical features indicated by the map.
- Have students create their own maps of the Mourne Mountains with illustrations in the borders of the map of what they think the scenery of the area resembles.

(Grades 4 to 5)
*** Assign students a project that requires them to research the Mourne Mountains and the surrounding areas in Northern Ireland.
*** Explain to students that the monasteries of the Dark Ages preserved the knowledge of the civilizations that existed in previous times. These ideas and texts were transferred from the Arab civilizations of the time to Europe by travelers and merchants. Assign the students to research in the library or the internet one of the topics that the monks of the Middle Ages were known to have preserved from antiquity and have them write a report and print it by hand with the use of color pencils to create their own short illuminated manuscripts.

(Grades 1 to 4)
*** Students will be shown all the different kinds of pens and pencils of today and then see what they had to write with in the time of Brother Theophane. Discuss how different it was to write with an ink quill and ink well as opposed to a ball point pen and a pencil.
- Ink quills students will be given ink quills and food coloring to create their own illuminations.
(Grades 3 to 5)
*** Have students make their own inks and paints by using minerals, herbs, shrubs, berries and other natural powders mixed with sticky substances such as egg whites.
*** Show students pictures of stained glass from the Middle Ages and ask how the stained glass makes them feel. Tell students that stained glass was a very expensive and beautiful thing that most churches and people could not afford. Have students think for a design from the book to create to hang in the windows of the class.
- Students will create their own stained glass using black paper and cellophane.
*** Fonts: Show the students enlarged printouts of the different fonts. Then talk about the features of fonts such as san serif, or gothic. Then have the students design their own fonts have them consider what is legible and what could be written fast. Have them produce all the letters from A to Z in their font. Then try writing famous quotes in their font and display them on the bulletin board.

Related Web Sites
Writing (Poetry)
*** http://www.theteachersguide.com/poetrymonth.htm Accessed 09 July 2011
*** http://www.poetry4kids.com/ Accessed 09 July 2011
*** http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/poetry/ Accessed 09 July 2011

(Making Ink)
*** http://www.easyfunschool.com Accessed 07 July 2011
*** http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/teachers/activities/3205_vinland.html Accessed 07 July 2011
*** http://www.pioneerthinking.com Accessed 07 July 2011
*** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_gall_ink Accessed 07 July 2011

Math in the Dark Ages
*** http://www.roma.unisa.edu.au/07305/medmm.htm Accessed 09 July 2011
*** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abacus Accessed 09 July 2011

Related Books
*** Millen, C.M. 1996. A Symphony for the Sheep. Houghton Mifflin.
*** Millen, C.M. 2004. Blue Bowl Down: An Appalachian Rhyme. Candlewick.
*** Millen, C.M. 1999. The Low-Down Laundry Line Blues. Houghton Mifflin.

*** Preus, Margi, 2010. Heart of a Samurai. Amulet Books.
*** Sidman, Joyce 2010. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night. Houghton Mifflin.
*** DeAngeli, Marguerite. 1998. The Door in the Wall. Laurel Leaf.
*** George Speare, Elizabeth. 1997. The Bronze Bow. Sandpiper

*** Richards, Jean. 2006. A Fruit is Suitcase for Seeds. First Avenue Editions.
*** Kudlinski, Kathleen. 2007. What Do Roots Do. Cooper Square Publishing Lic.
*** Gibbons, Gale. 2008. The Vegetables We Eat. Holiday House.
*** Winters, Kay. 2006. Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books. Aladdin
*** Moore, Jo Ellen. 1999. Writing Poetry With Children. Evan-Moor Educational Publishers.
*** Evans, Marylyn. 1999. Poetry Patterns and Themes. Evan-Moor Educational Publishers.

About the Author
C. M. Millen
When C. M. Millen was asked about the book The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane she wrote the following. “The opening four lines have been in my head for many years, and were actually part of a different poem at one point. Reviewing Thomas Kinsella’s translated poems from medieval Irish monks made me think about them and their working conditions, and then one thing led to another. The concept that the Irish monks saved many important Western writings, mixed with the commonplace troubles and frustrations with which those monks dealt, all melded together to form Theophane. I worked on it for over four years in fits and starts. It comes when it comes and I don’t have any control over that, really.”

Other children’s books written by C. M. Millen include A Symphony for Sheep illustrated by Mary Azarian, won the American Booksellers Pick of the List, and Parents’ Choice Award for Best Picture book in 1996, Northern Ireland Arts Council grant, and the Scientific American Best Children’s Books designation in 1997. The Low down Laundry Line Blues, Houghton Mifflin 1999, Blue Bowl Down: An Appalachian Rhyme, illustrated by Holly Meade, Candlewick Press, 2004., and other books written in Ireland.

About the Illustrator
Illustrator Andrea Wisnewski has illustrated three books for children. Two of the books, A Cottage Garden Alphabet and Little Red Riding Hood were created for David R. Godine, Publisher. The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane by C. M. Millen is her latest book. Ms. Winewski attended Portland School of Art in Portland, Maine and University of Connecticut where she received her B.F.A.

Here is a second Readers' Guide for THE INK GARDEN created by graduate student Armenda Elkins.

Summary of Book
Theophane, the youngest monk in a monastery nestled in the Mourne Mountains of Northern Ireland during the Middle Ages, was not like the other, older monks. They didn’t seem to mind or ever grow weary of “wearing simple brown robes, filling simple brown books, eating simple brown bread, and saying their prayers by their simple brown beds.” On the contrary, Theophane became bored with laboriously coping the manuscripts “at his simple brown desk, writing simple brown writing like all of the rest.” When observing nature outside his window he would “stop with his copying chore, to write about all of the beauty outdoors.” As punishment for not staying on task, Theophane was given the job of toiling all night, making the brown ink by boiling cauldrons of bark. When he heads out the next morning for more bark, he is inundated with the sights, sounds, and scents of nature. When he notices how blackberries turn his hands purple he experiments with other fruits from the forest, creating the vibrant colors of a rainbow and ultimately, allowing the monks to illuminate their pages with “heavenly hues.” In the end, Theophane “happily tends his field, harvesting plants for the colors they yield.”

Millen’s creative style alternates between the text of her narrative verse and brief poems by Theophane, based on the original works of Irish monks. While the narrative text appears to be written in framed, stained glass windows, Theophane’s poems appear to be written on antique-looking scraps of paper, both set on the backdrop of Wisnewski’s beautifully detailed, watercolor illustrations. The different typeface in which Theophane’s poems are set, help the reader to make a more personal connection to him, and reminds us that it’s ok to be different.

Review Excerpts
"Written in rhythmic, rhyming, and near-rhyming verse, the simple story unfolds in a satisfying way, accompanied by short poems inspired by the writings of medieval Irish monks. The richly detailed illustrations were created by using a paper-cut design to print bold, black lines and brightening the pictures with watercolors."
• Booklist

“Wisnewski's gorgeous hand-colored prints are composed of strong black line and interlaced color and pattern. There are echoes of the Book of Kells and other Celtic illumination, but children will especially respond to the borders of apples and berries, the patterned stonework and the black-and-white cat that appears on almost every page.”
• Kirkus

"Wisnewski's (Little Red Riding Hood) intricate, woodblock-like portraits of Irish monastery life are this book's principal charm. She portrays with loving attention the plants and flowers young monk Theophane uses to create colored inks, and frames the text with illuminations.
• Publishers Weekly

Reviews & Awards
• Booklist 07/15/10
• Horn Book 05/01/11
• Kirkus Review 06/15/10
• School Library Journal 08/01/10
• Lee Bennett Hopkins Award 2011

Questions to Ask Before Reading
Invite children to discuss the following:
• What is the boy on the cover wearing? Why do you think he is dressed like that?
• What is a “monastery”? Look at the book’s cover and speculate about the book’s content and the meaning of the word “monastery.”
• What is meant by the “Middle Ages”? (After giving time for responses) Does anyone know another term describing this same time period?
• Did books in the Middle Ages look like The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane? In what ways do you think they may have looked different? Do you think the materials they were made with were different?

Suggestions for Reading the Poem Aloud
• Teacher reads the poem aloud to the class.
• Teacher reads the narrative verse and the students participate by chorally reading Theophane’s poems.
• Assign each student a part with the more advanced readers taking the narrative verse and the slower readers the shorter poems.
• Put students in pairs and let them take alternating turns reading the narrative text and the shorter poems.

Follow Up Activities
• Theophane loved nature and being outdoors. Read The Sun in Me: poems about the planet by Judith Nicholls, and have students write short poems describing something they love about nature. Later, their poems can be “illuminated” with the Ink they make during the math & science lesson.

• Write a Sense Poem. The sights, sounds, and scents of nature inundated Theophane when he went out the next morning to gather more bark. Have students visualize their household on a special day (Thanksgiving, “first day” events, birthday, day at a them park, etc.). Encourage them to use their five senses to experience the special day in their minds. Talk about the warmth and love they might feel at holidays or special get-togethers, and what they might smell. Brainstorm adjectives that might coincide with that scenario. Create a mind map of the five senses and what they each experience on their special day. Model how to choose a detail from each sense and turn it into a line for our poem. Give children a choice of two formats for writing their poem: I feel…, I see …, I hear…, I smell…, I touch… OR they may write a free verse poem.

Math & Science
• Make your own Medieval Ink (Use later for the Art Activity)
1⁄2 cup ripe berries (the color of your ink will depend on what berries you use. Blueberries will give you a beautiful purple ink).
1⁄2 teaspoon vinegar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
You will need Wooden spoon, Strainer, Baby food jar, Bowl
1. Fill the strainer with the berries and hold it over a bowl.
2. Using the rounded back of a wooden spoon, crush the berries against the strainer so that the berry juice strains into the bowl.
3. Add the salt and vinegar to the berry juice. The vinegar helps the ink to retain its color and the salt keeps it from getting moldy.
4. If the berry ink is too thick, add a tablespoon of water.
5. Store in baby food jar.
6. Only make a small amount of berry ink at a time. When not in use, keep it tightly covered.

This recipe can be found at www.easyfunschool.com. Find recipes for other inks using natural ingredients at www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/teachers/activities/3205_vinland.html and www.pioneerthinking.com.

Social Studies
The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane takes place in the mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland. Show students a map of Ireland and ask them to locate the mountains. Assign students a research project to find out more about the area and its history.
• The story of Theophane took place during the Middle Ages. Have students research to find out more about “medieval” times.
Social Studies/Art
• After reading the recommended related books, Magic in the Margins: A Medieval Tale of Bookmaking and Marguerite Makes a Book, make a class book from one of the writing activites above.

• While Brother Theophane was supposed to be copying books, he was distracted by the views outside his window. He was inspired by nature to embellish his work. Investigate this interactive website showing how illuminated manuscripts were made:
Then, choose one of Theophane’s poems to copy and “illuminate” (with the Medivial Ink you made earlier in the math & science lesson).

Related Web Sites
Regia Anglorum
[To learn how to make your own hawthorn bark ink]

PBB – NOVA Teachers
[To experiment with extracting colors from plants]

Fitz Museum
[To learn how illuminated manuscripts were make]

The J. Paul Getty Museum
[Look here for Medieval Manuscripts]

The Walters Museum
[See a gallery with more than 900 illuminated manuscripts and 1,250 of the first printed books]

The Morgan Library & Museum
[Spanning some ten centuries of Western illumination, it includes more than eleven hundred manuscripts as well as papyri]

Amazing Rare Things
[Works from six remarkable and diverse groups of natural history drawings and watercolors]

Free Library of Philadelphia
[The Philadelphia area’s largest collection of Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts]

Bodleian Library: University of Oxford
[Images of manuscripts, arranged by century and country of origin from the 8th to the 19th century]

Digital Scriptorium
[A growing image database of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts]

Related Books
• Poetry
Brown, Don. 2002. Across a Dark & Wild Sea. Brookfield, CT: Roaring Brook.
Kinsella, Thomas, ed. 1986. The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nicholls, Judith. 2008. The Sun in Me: Poems About the Planet. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot Books.

• Nonfiction
Nikola-Lisa, W. 2007. Magic in the Margins: A Medieval Tale of Bookmaking. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Robertson, Bruce. 1999. Marguerite Makes a Book. Los Angeles, CA: The J. Paul Getty Museum.
Aliki. 1980. A Medieval Feast. New York: Harper Collins.

• Fiction
Macdonald, Fiona. 2005. You Wouldn’t Want to Be in a Medieval Dungeon! Danbury, CT: The Salariya Book Company Ltd.
Osborne, Mary Pope. 1998. Viking Ships at Sunrise. New York: Random House.

About the Author
C. M. Millen Is a children’s book author, a poet, an artist, a teacher, mother, wife, and a woman of spiritual awareness and commitment. She has written Blue Bowl Down, The Low-Down Laundry Line Blues, and A Symphony for the Sheep. After visiting the ruins of a medieval monastery in Ireland, she asked herself, “Who walked on these stones? Who touched these walls?” and wondered what paths their lives ultimately took.

Visit this site to read an in depth interview with C. M. Millen

Watch Millen’s speech upon receiving the 2011 Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane

About the Illustrator
Andrea Wisnewski has taken the art of paper cutting to a new level. She makes unique paper cut prints combining paper cut art and traditional printing from a plate on press and individually paints each one by hand with watercolors. Her company, Running Rabbit Press, has produced numerous illustrations over the years for newspapers, magazines, and publishers.

Read more about Wisnewski on her website:

Watch a television interview with Wisnewski:

2011 Honor Book: DARK EMPEROR

This is a 2011 honor book for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:

Sidman, Joyce. 2010. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night. Ill. by Rick Allen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Here is a Digital Trailer for DARK EMPEROR created by graduate student Mary Meeks. (Notice how she uses the features of theatrically released movie trailers-- so clever!)

Here is another Digital Trailer for THE DARK EMPEROR created by graduate student Annette Pierce.

Here is a Readers' Guide for THE DARK EMPEROR created by professor Sylvia Vardell.

Recommended age levels 7-12

1. Summary of book

This collection of poems about the forest at night—owls, moths, porcupines-- is the last in the trio of “ecosystem poetry books” that began with Song of the Water Boatman (pond) and continued with Butterfly Eyes (meadow). It also offers a parallel layout with beautiful linoleum prints in a double-page spread for each of 12 poems, alongside an accompanying prose paragraph. This marriage of lyrical poetry, science-focused topics, and beautifully executed art has become a Sidman (and collaborating illustrator) trademark.

2. Review excerpts/awards

*Newbery Honor book

*Booklist Editors’ Choice
*Horn Book Fanfare
*Bulletin Blue Ribbon
*Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year
*NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book
*ALA Notable Book
*Junior Library Guild Selection
*Cybils Poetry Award finalist

*Booklist starred review; “this picture book combines lyrical poetry and compelling art with science concepts”
*School Library Journal; “it invites lingering enjoyment for nature and poetry fans”

3. Questions to ask before reading

Invite the children to discuss the following:
*What is an “emperor”? Look at the book’s cover and speculate about the book’s content and the meaning of the word “emperor.”
*Imagine what happens outside your home when you sleep at night. What animals might be active? What noises might be heard?
*Which is easier to write—prose or poetry? Why? This book has both. Why do you think a poetry book might include prose paragraphs, too?

4. Suggestions for reading poems aloud

*“Welcome to the Night”-- invite the whole group or class to read each stanza’s end line (“Welcome to the night”) as a repeated refrain; try this same strategy with “I Am a Baby Porcupette” and with “The Mushrooms Come” (for the repeated title line in each poem)

*“Oak After Dark”-- invite 7 volunteers to read one couplet each; try changing the order of the couplets in repeated readings just for fun

*”Ballad of the Wandering Eft”—Divide the class or whole group into 4 small groups, one to read each of the 4 poem stanzas. Then invite the whole (large) group to sing the repeated stanza in italics as a song to the tune of “On Top of Old Smoky.”

5. Follow up activities (writing, art, science, etc.)

*Art block prints
The illustrator, Rick Allen, created woodblock prints for the pictures in this book. Collaborate with an art teacher or local artist to learn about printmaking; experiment with simple potato prints to create print pictures for a favorite poem.

*Poem writing
Joyce Sidman writes poetry in many different forms. In this book, she includes an “ubi sunt” (“Moon’s Lament”), a medieval poem that “laments the loss of heroic, beautiful things.” Invite the children to work in pairs to try creating their own lamenting ubi sunt poem.

*Science observations
Children can work in pairs to create nature poems and prose paragraphs about creatures in their immediate environment based on observing them for a set period of time. Combine them to create a collaborative book.

6. Related web sites/blogs

*Joyce Sidman’s web site
[Look here for a readers guide that she has created as well as a digital trailer for this book.]

*Nocturnal animals web site
[Look here for factual information and photo-images of animals that are most active at night.]

*The Miss Rumphius Effect
[Look here for science plus poetry connections and ideas for teaching.]

7. Related books (poetry, nonfiction, fiction)

*Sidman Ecosystem Poetry Trilogy:
Sidman, Joyce. 2005. Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems. Ill. By Beckie Prange. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Sidman, Joyce. 2006. Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow. Ill. by Beth Krommes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Sidman, Joyce. 2010. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night. Ill. by Rick Allen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

*Other collections of nature poetry organized around an ecosystem theme:
Singer, Marilyn. 1989. Turtle in July. New York: Macmillan.
Singer, Marilyn. 2003. Fireflies at Midnight. New York: Atheneum.
Yolen, Jane, comp. 1997. Once Upon Ice and Other Frozen Poems. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
Yolen, Jane. 1998. Snow, Snow: Winter Poems for Children. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.

*Nonfiction books about nocturnal animals:
Cooper, Wade. 2008. Night Creatures. Cartwheel.
Fraser, Mary Ann. 1999. Where Are the Night Animals? HarperCollins.
George, Jean Craighead. 1999. Morning, Noon, and Night. HarperCollins.
Weber, Belinda. 2006. The Best Book of Nighttime Animals. Kingfisher.

2010 Winner: BUTTON UP

This is the 2010 winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:

Schertle, Alice. 2009. Button Up. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Here is a Digital Trailer for BUTTON UP created by graduate student Cheryl Bagley.

There are TWO Readers' Guides for this book presented below.

Here is a Readers' Guide for BUTTON UP created by graduate student
Larissa Newman.

Recommended ages 4-8

1. Summary of book

This is a collection of “wrinkled rhym
es” coming from the perspective of clothing: shoelaces, jammies, and even undies! There are 15 poems that invite you to read them with their vivid illustrations and an unusual viewpoint. The quirky animals included in the poems each have a special something that they would never part with. Grab your favorite blanket to hear the flowing verse of Alice Schertle and find a comfy spot to read these fun-filled poems!

2. Review excerpts/awards

*Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, 2010 Winner, United States

*Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, 2010 Winner, Grades K-3, United States

*Kirkus-Starred Review: ". . . these creatures have personality, exuberance and high style that perfectly match the verses. Loads of fun."

*Booklist-Starred Review: "The whimsical i
llustrations pair perfectly with the wittiness of the text, and the whole is a clever and original poetic treat."

*Horn Book-Starred Review: "From delicately comical to downright funny, the art perfectly reflects the contagiously rhythmic, playful verse. Made for sharing, and worth learning by heart, too."

*School Library Journal-Starred Review: “…these poems will give readers a new perspective on getting dressed.”

3. Questions to ask before reading

*Do you have a favorite item of clothing that you wear all the time? How would you feel if you had to part with it?

*Look at the cover of the book. What do you think about the ostrich in the turtle neck and the title (Button Up!) and how are they related?

*Imagine what it would be like if you
were a favorite pair of undies or a jersey. What would be some exciting places and things you would get to do?

*Read some of the poem titles to get them questioning about and predicting what this book will be about.

4. Suggestions for reading poems aloud

*”Props”—Have the children pick one of their favorite poems from the book and gather items to match. Then they can expressively read the poem aloud to the class and they wear or hold the items.

*”Partners”—Let the students choose a partner and divide up the stanzas. Each partner can practice reading theirs and then perform for others. Great for speaking and fluency practice.

*"Joshua’s Jammies”—Have a jammy day and let children wear their favorite pajamas to school and let them recite the poem inserting their own names or have groups of children recite the poems chorally.

5. Follow up activities

*Poem Writing
Alice Schertle writes poems about simple items that are important, especially to children. Invite the children to bring something that is dear to them from home. Then let them write a poem from the perspective of the article they bring. Create a clothesline to hang their clothes poems from. You can use construction paper to create paper clothes or a t-shirt pattern.

*Poetry Journal
After reading these whimsical poems have children write in their poetry journals about the connections they made with any of the poems.

*Language Arts
“Word Detectives” Let these poems guide you into word work. Children can locate rhyming words, contractions, blends, etc. Poems can easily be copied to chart paper to do these tasks as a group.

"Jennifer’s Shoes”
The teacher can wear a favorite pair of her shoes and read the poem aloud with great expression. Then she could talk and write down ideas to start her poem about all the things and places where her shoes have been.

6. Related web sites

*An interview with Alice Schertle

*All You Need for a Snowman acted out w
ith felt

*Lee Bennett Hopkins Acceptance Speech

*Alice Schertle Biography

7. Related books

*Other poetry books by Alice Schertle

Schertle, Alice. 2007. Very Hairy Bear. Ill. by Matt Phelan. Orlando: Harcourt Children's Books.

Schertle, Alice. 2009. Little Blue Truck Leads the Way. Ill. by Jill McElmurray. Orlando: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Schertle, Alice. 2002. All You Need for a Snowman. Ill. by Barbara Lavallee. Orlando. Harcourt Books.

Schertle, Alice. 2004. All You Need for a Beach. Ill. by Barbara Lavallee. Orlando. Harcourt Books.

*Other poetry books with familiar topics

Franco, Betsy. 2009. Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two Voices. Ill. by Jessie Hartland. Candlewick.

Prelutsky, Jack. 1996. A Pizza the Size of the Sun
. Ill. by James Stevenson. Greenwillow Books.

Lansky, Bruce. 2004. Miles of Smiles (Kids Pick the Funniest Poems). Ill. by Steven Carpenter. Meadowbrook.

Here is a Readers' Guide for BUTTON UP created by graduate student
Lisa Keefer.

Recommended ages 4 - 8

1. Summary of Book

This collection of poems by Alice Schertle takes a look at clothing from a unique perspective. In this distinctive and humorous book, 15 different articles of clothing take on a life all of their own as each shares its view of the world. Whether it is Violet’s hiking hat, Harvey’s galoshes, or Emily’s undies, each article of clothing examines its function to the wearer in engaging rhyme. Joshua’s jammies emphatically state that they are the “jammies Joshua wears” and are not for the llama, or penguins, or gnu any of the other animals represented by the toys scattered on the floor in the picture. Tanya’s old T-shirt does not think that it is fair that Tanya is the one who grew so much that “now she’s big as a sofa”, but it, (the t-shirt), gets used as a dust rag. The colorful, double-paged watercolor illustrations by Petra Mathers give life to each article of clothing. They add to the humor of each of the whimsical poems by representing the characters as animals rather than children.

2. Review excerpts/awards

*Arizona- Grand Canyon Reader Award Nominees 2012. Nonfiction Books
*Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
*Utah- CLAU Beehive Book Award Nominees Child
ren’s Poetry 2011 *Vermont- Red Clover Award Nominees 2010-2011

*SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL starred review: “Told from the points of view of various anthropomorphic articles of clothing, these poems will give readers a new perspective on getting dressed.”

*BOOKLIST starred review: “From untied shoelaces to a hand-me-down sweatshirt, 15 articles of clothing tell their side of the story in verse. Alongside each poem, Mathers' charming watercolors show a variety of decked out animals in vignettes and double-page spreads that add to the humor.”

*KIRKUS, starred review: ". . . these creatures have personality, exuberance and high style that perfectly match the verses. Loads of fun."

*HORN BOOK, starred review: "From d
elicately comical to downright funny, the art perfectly reflects the contagiously rhythmic, playful verse. Made for sharing, and worth learning by heart, too."

3. Questions to ask before reading

Invite children to discuss the following:
*We wear different articles of clothing for different types of weather and activities. How many articles of clothing can you think of?
*What kinds of clothing are appropriate for summer? What about fall, spring, winter, rainy days, or snow? Can some clothing be used in several seasons? Does where you live make a difference as to what you might wear during that season?
*Can you imagine what it would be like if your shoes, pants or shirt could talk? What would they say? Do you think that clothes get their feelings hurt?
*Are the poems in this book real or make-believe? Could you make poems about clothing that are realistic? What about descriptive poetry such as
Cinquain or an Acrostic poem?

4. Suggestions for reading poems aloud

“The Song of Harvey’s GALOSHES”- After first reading the poem aloud to the children, read the poem in unison. Next, invite the children to read the portion of the poem which echoes. Ex: When it’s raining Harvey always puts us on, (puts us on).On the next stanza, have leader and children alternate reading the words. Ex: (adult)-“Squash”, (children) – “galosh.”

“Joshua’s JAMMIES”- After first reading the poem aloud, the adult reader will read the lines: “We are the jammies that Joshua wears” Volunteers will participate by reading one of the 11 response lines, (volunteer 1: not jammies for penguins, volunteer 2: “not jammies for bears” etc).

“Bill’s BLUE JACKET”- Divide the class or whole group into 5 small groups and assign each to read one of the 5 stanzas of the poem. To make this reading more kinesthetic, have children mimic performing the actions, (such as taking the jacket off the
hook and shaking it out), as they read their lines. Invite the whole group to participate in singing this poem to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

5. Follow up activities

*Clothing Fabric Collage:
Students will draw a character on a sheet of construction paper. They could draw a self-portrait, or an animal character such as Petra Mathers did in her illustrations. Next, the children will clothe the figure using shirts, pants, shoes, etc. which they have cut out of fabric scraps. If the group is just learning the names of various articles of clothing, they should label the items.

*Poetry Writing
Alice Schertle writes many of the poems in this book as quatrains, (a stanza of four lines and a rhyme scheme). Invite children to choose an article of clothing and write about it in a quatrain. Children need to choose a rhyming pattern to use, (abab, abba, aabb), and pick an article of clothing to write about and illustrate. They can work individually or in small groups. Gather the poems together into a poetry journal or scrapbook for the class.

*An alternate to creating a class journal, would be for individuals to make and decorate a cover for their own poetry book.

*Creating and extending patterns
Give children 5 to 10 each of die cut patterns of different articles of clothing and large pieces of butcher paper. Have them work in pairs or on their own to create patterns in abab, abba, aabb format such as are found in a quatrain. Encourage stud
ents to tell about the pattern they created and to come up with questions about extending the patterns. Students should glue the die cut pieces onto the butcher paper and write the questions they have written under the pattern.
*Make a list of the purpose of clothing and the types of clothing appropriate for the weather conditions. Be sure to include things such as hats, shoes, socks, etc. This could be turned into a graph of the types of clothing worn in each season.

6. Related web sites/blogs

* http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Schertle/e/B000APKQV8
(Look here for information about more books written by Alice Shertle.)

* http://www.jacketflap.com/persondetail.asp?person=4983

(Look here for a brief biography about Alice Shertle and information about more books by this author.)

(Look here for a variety of children’s poetry about clothes and many other topics.)

(Erin has quite a collection of children’s poetry on this page. Many of the links connect to poetry about clothing.)

This link to the poetry foundation connects to the Children’s Poetry Laureate page, where children’s poet Mary Hoberman reads a selection of her poems including “The Llama Who Had No Pajamas” and “I Like Old Clothes.”

7. Related books

* Books by Alice Schertle:
• Schertle, Alice. 2009. Little Blue Truck Le
ads the Way. Ill. by Jill McElmurry. Orlando Florida: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
• Schertle, Alice. 2007. Very Hairy Bear. Ill. by Matt Phelan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
• Schertle, Alice. 2007. All You Need for a Snowman. Ill. by Barbara Lavallee. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

*Other children’s books about clothing:
• Barrett, Judy. 1988. Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing. Ill. by Ron Barrett. Atheneum
• Berry, Joy. 2010. I Love Getting Dressed (Teach Me About). Ill. by Dana Regan. Joy Berry Books
• Hall, Margaret C. 2003. Clothing (Around the World). Heinemann Educational Books.
• Hall, Margaret C. 2003. Clothes (Around the World). Heinemann Educational Books.
• Sills, Leslie. 2006. From Rags to Riches: A History of Girls' Clothing in America. Holiday House.
• Andersen, Hans Christian. 2004. The Emperor's New Clothes. Ill. by Virginia Lee Burton. Sandpiper
• Calmerson, Stephanie. 1991. The Principal's New Clothes. Ill. by Denise Brunkus. Scholastic.


This is a 2010 honor book for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:

Franco, Betsy. 2009. A Curious Collection of Cats. San Francisco: Tricycle Press.

Here is a Digital Trailer for A CURIOUS COLLECTION OF CATS created by graduate student Jessica A. Alvis.

Here is a Readers' Guide for A CURIOUS COLLECTION OF CATS created by graduate student Shelly Paschal.

Recommended age levels 7-12

1. Summary of book

These thirty-four concrete poems about cats are written in forms that include haiku, limerick, and free verse with colorful, whimsical illustrations that introduce the reader to the thirty-four cats and their adventures. Children will have fun following the lines and figuring out the direction of the verses. For example, “Tabitha’s Tail” is written in the shape of the cat’s tail and the same for the poem titled “Rascal’s Tongue”.

2. Review excerpts/awards

*Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award

*Booklist review: “Cat lovers will recognize the standoffs with arching backs, the cozy touch of the “purrfect” scarf on their shoulders, and the tech-savvy cat that walks across the keyboard to add her own note to an e-mail to a friend.”

*Amazon review: “This is a delightful journey into the world of finicky feline friends with clever illustrations and smart poetry.”

3. Questions to ask before reading

Invite the children to discuss the following:
“As we look at the cover and the title, what do you think will be the theme of this book?” This will start the discussion about cats; stories will soon follow about student’s own pets. These discussions will spark the students’ curiosity to read about the cats as you take a “book walk” before reading.
“What are “concrete” poems?” Look at how the poems are written and guide the students to the meaning of concrete poems.
“As we read about some of the adventures of these cats, what connections can you make about your pets? Will these poems remind you of your cat’s antics that you would like to share at the end of class today? Teaching students to make personal connections in their reading will help foster the comprehension skills that good readers do.

4. Suggestions for reading poems aloud

“A Tomcat’s Yard Is His Kingdom” - invite 2 students to read this poem. Timing is important; students will be more successful if they have heard this read once before and to let them read it independently before performing it for the class.

“Lenny vs. Patch” - invite 4 students to read this poem. Same instructions apply as the first poem mentioned.

Voice 1- Fighting Felines
Voice 2- Screeches Howls
Voice 3- Pouncing, Biting
Voice 4- High-Pitched Yowls
Voice 1- Clawing Kicking
Voice 2- Scuffling Pair
Voice 3- Black fur,
Voice 4- White fur

Adult Read Aloud- The majority of the poems would be best for an adult read aloud. These poems should be read slowly, but expressively. Readers should pause only where there is punctuation. Using an ELMO or projector is best because the students need to see the illustrations and word art, so they will understand the concept of concrete poems. By understanding the way the poems are constructed, the students will have more enjoyment as they read this book independently.

5. Follow up activities

• Art
In the poem “SYMMETRICATS”, this is a wonderful example of symmetry, not only is the poem symmetrical inventive, but the illustration is also symmetrical. Give each child a cat shape and ask them to put whatever colors of paint they want in any design on one side of the cat. They will then fold the cat in half and gently rub the paper. When they open it up again, the same pattern will be on both sides of the cat. Explain that this is an example of symmetry. Display “Our Symmetricats” in the classroom or library.

• Science
Look at objects that have symmetry such as leaves, shells, and butterfly wings. Ask the children to think of other subjects in the library and nature that have symmetry, and see what they know. Then invite them to bring the examples to class for show and tell.

• Language Arts: Descriptive Adjectives
Throughout this book, Betsy Franco’s use of description helps the reader visualize the antics of the fabulous feline. Take basic and sometimes over used adjectives, for example words like pretty, bad, mad, or happy. Use the thesaurus to find better choices. Then go to http://www.wordle.net and create a word cloud to display around the classroom. These examples will be helpful to use throughout the year to “spice” up writing.

6. Related web sites/blogs

*Betsy Franco’s web site

*Word art and poetry web sites
This web site will create word clouds with any text that is provided. A fun innovative way to build a love for words which is the first step of poetry writing.


[Look here for fun poems to share that will lighten any mood in school.]

This is an interactive web site to assist students through the writing process. The poetry section is extremely helpful.

*Interactive web sites that teach symmetry. These help bridge literature with other curriculum and goes hand in hand with the poem titled “SYMMETRICATS.'


This web site would be used as a follow up science activity.

7. Related Books

*Follow up book that the focus is on dogs:
Franco, Betsy. 2011. A Dazzling Display of Dogs. Ill. by Michael Wertz. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press.

*Concrete poem books:
Sidman, Joyce. 2006. Meow Ruff. Ill. by Michelle Berg. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Janeczko, Paul, and Christopher Raschka. 2001. A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems. Selected by Paul B. Janeczko. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.

*Poem books to read with other voices:
Franco, Betsy. 2009. Messing Around on the Monkey Bars and Other School Poems for Two Voices. Ill. by Jessie Hartland. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.
Fleischman, Paul. 2000. Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices. Ill. by Beppe Giacobbe. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.

* Students will enjoy these challenging poems that are read in two ways: up and down. They are reverse images of themselves and work equally well in both directions.
Singer, Marilyn. 2010. Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse. Ill. by Josée Masse. New York, N.Y.: Dutton Children's Books.

2010 Honor Book: CROSSING STONES

This is a 2010 honor book for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:

Frost, Helen. 2009. Crossing Stones. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

You'll find a Digital Trailer for CROSSING STONES created by graduate student Rozanna Bennett at YouTube and here.

There are TWO Readers' Guides for this book presented below.

Here is a Readers' Guide for CROSSING STONES created by graduate student Jennifer Pennington.

Recommended age levels: YA, 12 and up

1. Summary of book

In this beautifully written verse novel, Helen Frost tells the story of a young girl, Muriel, and her struggle for a voice during WWI. Muriel, who struggles with the idea of President Wilson sending young boys off to war, finds herself in her own battle. In a small town where relationships grow out of young friendships, Muriel finds herself struggling between life without her friend Frank, and the idea of a group of women, her aunt in particular, fighting for their rights. Frost arranges the poems in a symbolic way that flows like a stream with the movement of the story. She paints a picture with words of a lazy river and stones tossed into that river, stones which represent changing times, times of struggle, sacrifice, illness, and loss. She also strategically places rhythm throughout Ollie and Emma’s poems. This style connects to the two characters and helps the reader understand the close relationship the two develop. Frost creates precious characters that captivate the reader and develop a sense of empathy for them. Most of all, Frost guides you through a beautiful story of growing up in a time of war, and points out the struggles families, as well as women dealt with during WWI.

2. Review excerpts/awards

Booklist starred review (October 1, 2009)"Frost offers a layered, moving verse novel."
Horn Book starred review "Muriel speaks in an engaging and convincing free-verse stream-of-consciousness style.
Kirkus starred review (September 15, 2009) "This gorgeous collection of cupped-hand sonnets tells the story of two families whose lives are forever changed by WWI."
Library Media Connections starred review (November/December 2009) "This is excellent historical fiction"
School Library Journal (October 1, 2009) "Frost's warmly sentimental novel covers a lot of political, social, and geographical grounds."
Book Links (ALA)

3. Questions to ask before reading
Invite the children to discuss the following:

• Historical facts about WWI. Find out what students already know about the war.
• Women’s suffrage movement. Find out what the students know about the movement. Share historical information about the movement and allow students to ask questions and perform a small research using the internet and share their findings.
• How ‘war’ affects not only the soldiers, but their families as well. Discuss in what ways the war effects families at home.
• Censorship; how soldier’s letters home were monitored and censored.

4. Suggestions for reading poems aloud

• Read the book to the class without revealing the fact that it is poetry. After completing the reading reveal that the book is actually a novel in free verse. This may take a few days, but may be attractive to students who tend to feel intimidated by poetry.
• Divide the class into groups of four. Assign one of the four main characters to each member of the group. Have students sit in groups and read their parts aloud.
• Divide the class into groups of two, boy and girl. Have them read selected poems by Ollie and Emma. The author has designed the poems so that the 7th and 8th line of Emma’s poems rhyme with the first and last lines of Ollie’s next poem. Have students read aloud and listen for the rhyming pattern the author has intricately designed.

5. Follow up activities (writing, art, science, etc.)

*Poem writing

Helen Frost used words to create a continual picture of a flowing river and stepping stones. Have students try their hand at writing free verse poetry in form. The students write a short poem about any subject and form the words to create a picture of the subject discussed.

*World War I history unit
Use this novel to introduce a unit on WWI and spark interest in students. Pull particular subjects from the book such as: President Wilson, women’s suffrage movement, and the censoring of soldier’s letters. Or, use the novel to follow up a unit on WWI, bringing the subject matter of the war to life.

*Rhyme Lesson
Helen Frost explains how she designed the rhyme throughout the poetry. Her design is complicated and goes unnoticed when first reading the novel. Read aloud some of Ollie and Emma’s poems and help students identify rhyming words in the poems. Have students write a short poem using the same design. This activity in turn will train students to take a closer look at poetry. To realize poets have a design in mind and the design serves a purpose.

*Art Lesson
Frost did a wonderful job in forming her poems to create a flowing river with stones throughout the novel. The river represents Muriel and Frank, while the stones represent Ollie and Emma’s relationship. Students are to create a piece of art for this novel in verse that represents these characters, their struggles, and their relationships. Students are allowed to use any type of media, collage, paint, pencil, etching, etc. Students need to create the emotions through art that Frost created through words and form.

6. Related web sites/blogs

Review Blog site
(Look here for a review on Crossing Stones, as well as other middle school aged novels)

Helen Frost, Author Web Site
(Look here for other books written by Helen Frost.)

Publisher’s Page
(Look here for more information about Helen Frost and other poets.)

World War I
(Look here for more information on WWI, including PBS videos and WWI information.)

Women’s Suffrage Movement
(Look here to view photos and videos of the suffrage movement.)

(Look here to see the DVD Iron-Jawed Angels, the story of women fighting for the right to vote.)

7. Related books

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. 2007. Uprising. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Lasky, Kathryn. 2002. A Time for Courage: The Suffragette Diary of Kathleen Bowen. New York : Scholastic.

Salisbury, Graham. 1994. Under the Blood-Red Sun. New York: Delacorte Press.

Bausum, Ann. 2004. With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman's Right to Vote. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

Dumbeck, Kristina. 2001. Leaders of women’s suffrage. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books.

Parsons, Ian M. 1965. Men who march away; Poems of the First World War. New York: Viking Press.

Here is another Readers' Guide for CROSSING STONES created by graduate student Cynthia Cruz.
1. Summary

Crossing Stones follows the lives of two Michigan families during the early twentieth century. The two families struggle and succeed through a myriad of difficulties and hardships that mark important passages in the history of the United States: World War I, the Women's Suffrage Movement, and an influenza epidemic. The novel in verse centers around the children of the families: Muriel, Ollie, and Grace of the Jorgensen family with Emma and Frank of the Norman family. The young people of the novel have unique perspectives and their stories are told through poems that are structured as a meandering creek (Muriel) and as rounded stones (Emma and Ollie).

The parents hope for a marriage between the young people connecting the families, but the destiny and lives of the two families are inextricably linked by metaphoric stones of love, compassion, and friendship.

2. Review Excerpts/ Awards

“The distinct voices of the characters lend immediacy and crispness to a story of young people forced to grow up too fast.” —Starred, Horn Book

“Frost skillfully pulls her characters back from stereotype with their poignant, private, individual voices and nuanced questions, which will hit home with contemporary teens, about how to recover from loss and build a joyful, rewarding future in an unsettled world.”—Starred, Booklist

“With care and precision, Frost deftly turns plainspoken conversations and the internal monologues of her characters into stunning poems that combine to present three unique and thoughtful perspectives on war, family, love and loss. Heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful, this is one to savor.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Frost’s warmly sentimental novel covers a lot of political, social, and geographical ground . . . . But this is Muriel’s story, and her determined personality and independence will resonate with readers.” —School Library Journal

“A thoughtful read.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Both a great story and a perfectly-worded poetic work of art.” —Richie’s Picks

“This beautifully written, gently told story can be used for classroom discussion in social studies and English, or simply for leisure reading.” —VOYA

Honors and Awards

Lee Bennett Hopkins Award, Honor Book
Booklist: "Top Ten Romance Fiction for Youth"
Oprah's Book Club for Kids
Winner, Children's/Young Adult "Best Books of Indiana" 2010
Booklist Top Ten Historical Fiction for Youth
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults 2010
2010 Amelia Bloomer List (Recommended Feminist Literature for Birth through 18)
Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices 2010
Kirkus Reviews "The Best Young Adult Books of 2009"
Richie's Picks, Best of 2009 list
Booklist Editors' Choice
Book Links Lasting Connections
A Great Lakes independent Booksellers Association "Great Lakes Great Reads" selection, Fall, 2009
Winter 2009-2010 Kid's Indie Next List -- "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers"
Sylvia Vardell's Poetry for Children, Best of 2009
Bookends at Booklist blog (Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan's best-of-the-best-books-for-teens 2009)
ACPL--Mock Newbery honor book, adult judges
ACPL--Mock Printz honor book

3. Questions to Ask Before Reading the Book

1. What is a verse novel? How does it differ from traditional novels? What is their structure?
2. Ask students who were the major figures in the Women's Suffrage Movement.
3. Ask students if anyone in their family has served in the military. What types of memories do they have about their service?

4. Suggestions For Reading Poems Aloud

1. Ask students to choose one of the characters in the novel. Recite a poem in the voice of either Muriel, Emma, or Ollie.
2. Give pairs of students a list of words from the novel and ask them to create a poem to recite to their classmates.
3. Organize a poetry reading in the school library and have students recite their favorite poem from the novel.

5. Follow Up Activities

1. Have students create a poem with similar structure as the 2 types in the novel Students may choose the poem type representing the meandering creek (non-linear) or the rounded structure representing the stones that cross the creek and connect the two families together.
2. Ask students to create a poem for National Women's History Month (March) in celebration of a woman whose achievement has furthered the cause of women.
3. Have students write an elegy for young Frank Norma who is killed in World War I.

6. Related Websites

1. http://sewellbelmont.com - National Women's Party
-the website of the Sewell-Belmont House and museum
The National Women's Party owns and operates this museum. Through the website and museum they communicate their history and ideology of their organization. Information on the 19th Amendment and the fight for Women's Suffrage is detailed here.

2. http://www.pbs.org/great war -
The PBS website holds authoritative, pertinent information on World War I, its background and the repercussions of the war. Included are resources for teachers and students such as a timeline and maps.

3. http://www.nwhp.org - National Women's History Project
The website companion to the National Women's History Project celebrates the achievements and history of women. Information on this site includes a biography center, an archive of great speeches, and resources for teachers and students.

7. Related Books

Engle, Margarita. 2010. The Firefly Letters: a Suffragette's Journey to Cuba. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Co.
Frost, Helen. 2008. Diamond Willow. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Greenfield, Eloise. 2006. When the Horse Rides By: Children in the Time of War. New York, NY: Lee and Low Books.

Freedman, Russell. The War to End All Wars: World War I. Boston, Mass: Clarion Books.
Sullivan, George. 1994. The Day the Women Got the Vote: a Photo History of the Women's Rights Movement. New York, NY: Scholastic.
Todd, Anne. 2009. Susan B. Anthony: Activist. New York, NY: Chelsea House.

Cali, Davide. 2009. The Enemy: a Book About Peace. New York, NY: Schwartz and Wade Books.
Dowell, Frances O' Roark. 2008. Shooting the Moon. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Jocelyne, Marthe. 2004. Mable Riley: a Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance. Cambridge, Mass: Candlewick Press.


This is a 2010 honor book for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:

Hoberman, Mary Ann and Winston, Linda. 2009. The Tree that Time Built; A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.

Here is a Digital Trailer for THE TREE THAT TIME BUILT; A CELEBRATION OF NATURE, SCIENCE, AND IMAGINATION created by graduate student Jenny N. Davidson.

Here is a Readers' Guide for THE TREE THAT TIME BUILT created by graduate student Jenna Wells.

Recommended Age Level
Ages 9-12, grades 5 and up.

The Tree that Time Built is a collection of poetry that celebrates science, nature, and the imagination. Compared to a family tree, the poems in this book travel from the beginning of time, through the dinosaurs, and end with modern man. This edition has an accompanying CD of 55 of the book’s poems read aloud (by either the poet or voice actor) so the reader can follow along and hear the way some of the poetry would sound when read aloud. With one poem per page, the reader is able to focus on one poem at a time as they peruse this book. Read in order or skipping around, the poems speak to our inner naturalist, evoking our sense of nature and freedom. With titles like, Obituary for a Clam, October Textures, and For Rent: One Moon Snail Shell the reader can find a topic that speaks to them on a creative and perhaps spiritual level. The book includes introductions to each section and footnotes explaining factual terms or ideas that may not be familiar to the reader. The illustrations are sparse and drawn in monochrome. Little animals appear next to poems depicting them and leaves are scattered throughout the book as if they have fallen off the tree for which the book was named.

Reviews excerpts
***From School Library Journal
“This handsome collection is especially appropriate for classroom use and instruction… from the playful to the profound, the poems invite reflection and inspire further investigation.”
Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI.
***From Booklist
“Even if the organization occasionally feels arbitrary, the well-chosen selections will provoke thought and inspiration. Explanatory notes accompanying many poems, a glossary of both scientific and poetic terms, short biographies of the poets, and an accompanying CD featuring a selection of the poems read aloud make this attractive and unusual hybrid of poetry and science a great choice for classroom sharing.”
Gillian Engberg
***From School Library Journal Blog
“When I read a poetry book that dazzles me, I have to share it with you right away. The Tree That Time Built is an excellent example of poetry meeting science and logic meeting language. This 200-page book may become your reading and language arts teachers’ favorite tool for teaching figurative language, poetry, scientific observation, and thinking skills.”
Diane Chen

2010 Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor Book
2009 NCTE Notable Poetry Book
Cybil Award Finalist
2009 Family Choice Award
2009 PW Cuffies Favorite Poetry Book

1. Mary Ann Hoberman is the author and the current Children’s Poet Laureate in the United States. She has taught poetry from the elementary level through college. After her first book was published in 1957 her primary focus has been on writing for children. Her website is http://www.maryannhoberman.com/.
2. Linda Winston is the co-author and aside from writing poetry she is a cultural anthropologist and teacher. She too has worked with students elementary through college.

Questions to ask before reading the book
Ask some or all of these critical thinking questions out loud to children before reading.
1. A lot of the poems in this anthology are about animals, what is your favorite animal and why?
2. One of the chapters in this book is titled, “Everything That Lives Wants to Fly”, if you could fly what would be the first thing you would do and why?
3. The poems in this book are about science and nature, if you had to write a poem about science or nature what would you choose and why?
4. One of the chapters in this anthology is titled, “Think Like a Tree”, what do you think a tree would think about and what would you ask a tree if you could get an answer?
5. Some of the first poems in the anthology are about dinosaurs, if you could travel back in time what type of dinosaur would you want to be and why?

Suggestions for reading poems aloud
1. Chorus
- “Who Am I” by Felice Holman. Read the poem alone to the group the first time. Have flashcards that have “Who am I?”, “Who I am.”, “Someone small”, and “But a piece of it all” written on them for the second read. Encourage class participation from the flashcards for repeated readings after each stanza is read.
2. Line-Around
- “The Polar Bear” by Jack Prelutsky After an initial read through by the instructor, invite 8 volunteers to each read aloud a line from the 8 line poem. Invite them to be dramatic or use funny voices to make the poem different every time it is read. Invite them to change lines so every volunteer gets a chance to read every line of the poem out loud.
3. Groups
- “Dinosaur Bone” by Alice Schertle. Depending on group size divide the group into smaller groups of three or four to form six smaller groups. Give each group a stanza of the six stanza poem to write on a larger piece of construction paper. Separate each group into a different part of the room and starting with the first group have them read out loud from their que card.
4. Adult Read Aloud
- “This World” by Mary Oliver. This longer poem is good for a quiet time with the classroom or group. This poem could be read 2 ways. First would be to have the poem appear line by line on a Powerpoint presentation as it is read. Second would be to have the class or group close their eyes and lay their heads down on a desk to see the poem in their mind.

Follow up Activities
1. For the section titled, “Prehistoric Praise” there are numerous activities that can be done with the dinosaur theme.
a. Using plastic bones create a dinosaur dig with sandboxes and digging tools. Divide the class into small groups and assign them to a particular dinosaur dig. The groups will be told which dinosaur they are digging up and then they can research their dinosaur to find out more.
b. This activity will depend on the size of the group. Write out the names of dinosaurs on flash cards and have each person pick a card out of a hat or bowl. The dinosaur can then be researched and a poem written about it. Optional reading to the class can follow or a display of the poems around the room.

2. The poem "Anthropoids" by Mary Ann Hoberman talks about the similarities that human beings share with apes of all types. Again there are several activities that could be done with this subject. Note: this could be a sensitive subject depending on the age group.
a. Field trip: On of the great things about this subject is that most zoos have an ape area. Taking a group on a field trip to fuse the poem and the real animal together would be beneficial for visual learning.
b. *A field trip would be a good activity for many of the poems in the book as they all center on science and animals. A whole day event could incorporate many facets of the books poetry.

3. The book as a whole is very diverse and covers all facets of science and history. Some other activities that can be done are as follows.
a. Using the cd that accompanies the book have the group or class add music to each poem. Using instruments such as whistles, maracas, clappers, and bells plus hand clapping and snapping, add music to each poem. Listen to the poem several times to discover the rhythm and then add appropriate sounds.
b. For a long term project there is a series of poems centering around butterflies, “Metamorphosis”, “Cocoon”, and “Butterfly”. The teacher or educator could find a cocoon and it could become a classroom project as it matures and eventually turns into a butterfly. The three poems could be read at the end of the day as a form of goodbye or goodnight. When the butterfly does emerge the class or group could have a birthday party where poems that are written by the class are read.

Related websites/blogs
1. Academy of American Poets
- http://www.poets.org
This site has many great resources to offer. It is an educational non-profit organization with backing from the Better Business Bureau and The National Endowment for the Arts. It has an entire section devoted to educators, with lesson plans, curriculum ideas, tips for teaching poetry and a discussion forum for teachers. It also has an entire section for poems on nature and science which includes: flowers, gardens, trees, animals, seasons, weather, space and night. A great resource for more poems to complement those found in The Tree that Time Built.

2. American Museum of Natural History
- http://www.amnh.org/ology/
This site is part of the New York City American Museum of Natural History. The site focuses on all of the “ologies” such as archaeology, genetics, marine biology, paleontology, and zoology, plus many more. Kid friendly and visually eye catching it is a comprehensive and accurate website for children to explore on their own. A good resource to complement a favorite subject found in The Tree that Time Built.

3. National Geographic for Kids
- http://kids.nationalgeographic.com
Based on the popular science magazine for kids, this website takes it to the next level of instant interaction: videos, games and quizzes are everywhere and on every subject. Sure to please those that found a favorite poem on any subject in the Hoberman’s poetry book.

4. Poetry in Nature
- http://www.poetryinnature.com/nature/poetry
While the content of the website includes ads and billboards the poetry contained within is worth looking past that. There is a plethora of poetry on every subject found in The Tree that Time Built plus so many others. It might behoove the teacher or instructor to review poems before- hand and copy them to read out loud or share with the class.

Related Books
1. Poetry Books
a. Blackaby, Susan. 2010. Nest, Nook, and Cranny. Ill. By Jamie Hogan. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing.
b. Bulion, Leslie. 2011. At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems. Ill. By Leslie Evans. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers.
c. Sidman, Joyce. 2010. Ubiquitous. Ill. By Beckie Prange. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

2. Nonfiction Books
a. Miller, Debbie S. 2007. Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights. Ill. By John Van Zyle. New York: Walker Books for Young Readers.
b. National Geographic Society. 2008. The Dinosaur Museum: An Unforgettable, Interactive Virtual Tour Through Dinosaur History. Ill. By Sebastian Quigley. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Children’s Books.
c. Suzuki, David, & Wayne Grady. 2007. Tree: A Life Story. Ill. By Robert Bateman. Kent, England: Greystone Books.

3. Fiction Books
a. Chin, Jason. 2009. Redwoods. Los Gatos, CA: Flashpoint.
b. Kelley, Jane. 2011. Nature Girl. New York: Yearling.
c. Moore, Eva. 2000. The Truth about Bats: The Magic School Bus Chapter Book, No. 1. Ill. By Ted Enik. New York: Scholastic.