Monthly Archives: October 2013

Happy Halloweensie

There’s an online Halloweensie Contest on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.  The rules of the contest are to write a 100-word or less Halloween story appropriate for weensie readers, using the words spooky, black cat, and cackle.  Here’s what I came up with:

I haven't photographed any witches or ghosts lately, but here's a giant millipede from last weekend's walk.

I haven’t photographed any witches or ghosts lately, but here’s a giant millipede from last weekend’s walk.

Witch and Ghost

Witch and Ghost walk hand in hand.
They pass Black Cat, sleek and grand.
A tree branch rattles.  Cold winds blow.
But Witch and Ghost have far to go.
Their shoes clip clop on long, dark roads.
Their backs are bent with heavy loads.
Witch climbs the steps.  She pulls the gate.
Ghost slips through.  They can’t be late.
They hear a cackle!  A spooky shriek!
A dark door opens with a creak.
Witch grips her broomstick.  In Ghost glides.
What frightful sights await inside?
–Buffy Silverman, 2013, all rights reserved

Not wanting to leave you with a cliff-hanger, here’s the Halloween party I picture as a final illustration:

Well, maybe that’s the wrong kind of party for the weensie set.  (But in my defense, when you do a google image search for Halloween parties, most seem to be aimed at an adult audience.  When did Halloween become a grown-up affair I ask in my most curmudgeonly voice?)  This one might be more appropriate:kids-halloween-party-1






Are you suffering from a Halloween hangover?  Waltz on over to Teacher Dance where Linda Baie is hosting Poetry Friday and treat yourself to a healthy dose of poetry. 18923_original

The Mortimer Minute–Hoppy Friday!


Hoppy Friday!  I’m happy to host Mortimer at my blog this week. 

Thanks to B.J. Lee for sending Mortimer my way after he visited the Blue Window.  Here’s how to hop “Mortimer Minute” style!

  • Answer 3 questions. Pick one question from the previous Hopper. Add two of your own. Keep it short, please! This is a Blog Hop, not a Blog Long Jump. This is the Mortimer Minute – not the Mortimer Millennium!
  • Invite friends. Invite 1-3 bloggers who love children’s poetry to follow you. They can be writers, teachers, librarians, or just plain old poetry lovers.
  • Say thank you. In your own post, link to The Previous Hopper, then keep the Mortimer Minute going – let us know who your Hoppers are and when they plan to post their own Mortimer Minute. 

Mortimer and I have had a lovely chat.  I tried to steer the conversation, but Mortimer is a bunny-in-charge.


Welcome, Mortimer!  You aren’t responsible for the shredded lettuce I passed on my walk today, are you?

Mortimer: Ahem.  I will ask the questions!  And here’s my first one: Is there a children’s poem that you wish you had written?

I love word-play, Mortimer.  I especially admire poems with fun word-play like Douglas Florian’s poem, “The Ticks:”

Not gigan-tic.
Not roman-tic.
Not artis-tic.
Not majes-tic.
Not magne-tic.
Nor aesthe-tic.
Ticks are strictly parasi-tic.
–Douglas Florian, “The Ticks” from Insectopedia, all rights reserved.

Isn’t that fantas-tic, Mortimer?

Mortimer:  Ticks!  Fantastic!?  Keep those blood-suckers away!  Here’s my next question: Don’t you have any itch-free poems that you admire?

Well yes, Mortimer, I’m partial to non-itchy poems too.  One of my goals when I write is to capture a sense of wonder about nature.  And that’s what  “Polliwogs” by Kristine O’Connell George does:

Come see
What I found!
Chubby commas,
Mouths round,
Plump babies,
Stubby as toes.

Come see
What I found!
Huddled in puddles,
Snuggled in mud. 
 –Kristine O’Connell George, “Polliwogs” from The Great Frog Race, all rights reserved.
Don’t you love those chubby commas, Mortimer?

Mortimer:  I do love critters that huddle and snuggle.  But how can you huddle and snuggle with slippery tadpoles!  Perhaps you should write about cute, furry animals if you want to inspire a sense of wonder….you know, poems about bunnies!  And that leads to my final question: Are there any word-playful, wonderous poems about bunnies that inspire you?

I know just the poem, Mortimer.  I think you’ll enjoy “Rabbit,” by Mary Ann Hoberman.

A rabbit 
A little bit
An itty-bitty
  Little bit of beet.
  Then bit
      By bit 
      He bit
              Because he liked the taste of it.
–Mary Ann Hoberman, “Rabbit” from The Llama Who Had No Pajama, all rights reserved.

Hop over here and scroll to page 18 to read the rest.

 Well that’s more like it!  And who have you invited to hop next Friday?P13

I’m pleased to tag my pal Debbie Diesen.  Debbie is the author of the Pout-Pout Fish, a NY Times best-selling rhyming picture book, and an ever-growing list of Pout-Pout sequels.  Picture Day Perfection, her latest gem, is full of picture day mayhem.

A new pout-pout arrives next summer!

A new pout-pout arrives next summer!

Debbie is an incredibly generous author, sharing the spotlight with other authors through the Michigander-Monday feature on her blog.  And rumor has it that she likes bunnies!

Wiggle your whiskers and visit Laura Purdie Salas for today’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Michigan anymore.

I shot these photographs at the birdfeeder in my backyard this week.

A Carolina chickadee at our backyard feeder.

A Carolina chickadee at our backyard feeder.

Who is that tiny chickadee…and that strange little bird with the brown cap?  Why it’s a Carolina chickadee sharing feeder space with his pal, the brown-headed nuthatch.

Nuthatch on the same feeder.

Brown-headed nuthatch on the same feeder.

Like the chickadee,  I am in Carolina (North, that is.)  My husband has a sabbatical from September-May, and we are settling in for our southern sojourn.  It’s hard for me to call a place home where I don’t recognize trees and birds, but I’m learning. On one of our evening strolls we were staring at a huge tree and wondering what the heck it was.

Me: Those leaves look like willow leaves.
Husband:  But the tree’s massive like an oak.
Google:  You’re both right–it’s a willow oak.
Not to mention the rhododendron looking-thingies on steroids, that tower above houses! Google tells me they might be Rhododendron maximum, aka Great Rhododendron. And speaking of towering, loblolly pines grow everywhere.

Staying in North Carolina has made me wonder about where I’m from.  For the past 17 years, it’s been Michigan, although I’ve never called myself a Michigander.  But in North Carolina, Michigan feels like home. This past weekend I attended the SCBWI-Carolina conference (which was great) and when asked where I was from, I answered Michigan.  One person asked where I grew up.  When I said Massachusetts she labelled me a Yankee.  I wondered what my Jewish grandparents who emigrated from Eastern Europe would have made of that–but that’s how she saw me.

All these rambling thoughts reminded me of George Ella Lyon’s poem:

Where I’m From

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

–George Ella Lyon, all rights reserved
(Read the entire poem here.)

When my son was in seventh grade (way back in 2000) his English teacher had students write their own “Where I’m From” poems.  It was a terrific way to get kids noticing and writing about the details of their own homes.  And this week I drafted my own:

Carolina Sojourn

I am from black-capped chickadees and
white-breasted nuthatches;
towering red oaks heavy with acorns
that storm the deck on humid nights,
pounding and pinging like summer hail.
I am from litters of squirrels
who creep down trunks,
daring to touch mossy ground.
I am from painted turtles and snappers
plodding across a gravel road,
a six-mile drive for milk and eggs,
a nightly chorus that changes its tune:
spring peepers then green frogs,
jug’o-rumming bull frogs,
cicadas and katydids,
sandhill cranes.

Now I hear a different song:
rumbling trucks on a busy street,
thumping bass from passing cars,
a steady drone, a highway near.
Away from traffic
a piney yard bears magic:
carolina chickadees and
brown-headed nuthatches,
a daredevil squirrel leaping for seeds,
a carpet of needles from skyscraper pines,
a praying mantis on a window screen,
prickly brown grass under bare feet,
a thorny vine cracking cement
grasping and growing,
searching for home.

–Buffy Silverman, September 2013
all rights reserved

Praying mantis on our kitchen window screen.  This handsome fellow was about 5 inches long.

Praying mantis on our kitchen window screen. This handsome fellow was about 5 inches long.

I moved the mantis to a more photogenic background.  S/he patiently posed for many shots.

I moved the mantis to a more photogenic background. S/he patiently posed for many shots.











Head over to Dori Reads for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.