Welcome to Poetry Friday!

Friday, June 29th, 2012



Everybody has a song,
be it short or be it long,
in the right or in the wrong key,
Like the hee-haw of a donkey,
Twitter, tweet, tu-whit, tu-whoo,
howl or growl or quack or moo.
Don’t be silent
nor afraid,
you must sing
as you’ve been made.

Translation by Stan Dragland of the South African poem “Elke outjie…” by Philip de Vos

Welcome, everybody, to this week’s Poetry Friday, which we are delighted to be hosting.  Please leave comments below with links to your “songs” and I’ll be updating this post throughout the day.

The above poem comes from the joyous anthology Under the Spell of the Moon: Art for Children from the World’s Great Illustrators.  This superb book, first published by Groundwood in Canada in 2004, then in the UK in 2006 by Frances Lincoln, is now available for the first time in paperback (Frances Lincoln, 2012). Produced by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the book is edited by erstwhile President of IBBY and founder of Groundwood Patsy Aldana, and has a thought-provoking Foreword by award-winning author Katherine Paterson.  It provides a fantastic showcase of 32 illustrators from across the globe, who have all donated their work to benefit IBBY – indeed 12.5% of the book’s proceeds go to IBBY.  Illustrators include Piet Grobler, who illustrated the poem cited above, as well as many others of my personal favorites such as Mitsumasa Anno (Japan), Peter Sís (Czech Republic/USA), Anthony Browne (UK), Isol (Argentina), Pulak Biswas (India), Luis Garay (Nicaragua) – and the book has also introduced me to many illustrators whose work I intend to explore further…

Each illustrator was asked to “illustrate a text of his or her own choosing, be it a poem, nursery rhyme, song, piece of prose, riddle or street game.”  The result is a wonderfully eclectic gathering of mostly verse that is given in its original language, sometimes incorporated into the artwork, and, where necessary, in English translation: and indeed a special shout-out must go to Stan Dragland’s virtuoso translations.  The quirkiness of the collection probably comes from this freedom of choice given to the global spread of illustrators: so each page turn brings a surprise, both in text and artistic style.  The one thing that links every page is the joie de vivre of the texts and the virtuosity each illustrator has brought to his or her contribution.

And now we turn to the eclecticism of the Poetry Friday gathering – what a joy it is to be hosting today!


Blythe revisits Peter Pan via Helen Marshall’s Skeleton Leaves.

Mary Lee has been as amazingly creative as ever: “I’m recycling words this week. I made a Wordle of some poems I wrote recently, then used only the words I found in the Wordle to create a new poem.”

Renee LaTulippe shares a video reading by Lori Degman (1 Zany Zoo) of her poem “A Snake Ate My Homework”, plus an interview with Lori and follow-up resources.

Liz Steinglass has four witty couplets animal couplets that I know will have me chuckling for the rest of the day.

Robyn Hood Black is “offering something hot and something cold from H. D. (Hilda Doolittle)” to help counter the heatwave in the US.

Joy has been posting poems all week based on her recent field trip to the Tambopata Research Center in the Amazonian rainforest – today she has A Room in the Jungle and challenges us to write a poem about “My Room”.

Tara brings sunshine to Poetry Friday with her focus today on Sunflowers, a poem by Mary Oliver, including a video reading.

Diane has a full platter of offerings – at Kurious Kitty’s Kurio Kabinet she has a very satisfying poem, “Perpetual Between” by Maggie Dietz; there’s a neat quotation from J. Patrick Lewis at Kurious K’s Kwotes; and an ekphrastic poem about “Degas’s Laundresses” by Eavan Boland at Random Noodlings.

Steven Withrow has a new poem, Cormorant that will have you grabbing the binoculars and heading for the sea, in your mind’s eye if you can’t manage it in reality.

Jama has a fabulous, lip-smacking feast today – oodles of brown-ness as well as a proposal for the UPS man… Excuse me while I go and raid my secret stash!

Heidi shares Denise Levertov’s What My House Would Be Like If It Were A Person as she reflects on her imminent move to a new home.

Irene Latham shares her favorite beach poem, along with her own poetic descriptions accompanying photographs of both of Florida’s coasts following a recent research trip.

Laura Shoven commemorates a very special meeting with Chu Chen Po’s Hedgehog: “I’ve been teaching the poem “Hedgehog” for years, but I met my first hedgehog last week. It was love.” Check out the beautiful photos too.

Carol shares Linda Pastan’s “To a Daughter Leaving Home” because her oldest son is moving to Phoenix to attend junior college today.

Jeff has a review of Out on the Prairie, a rhyming book set in South Dakota’s Badlands region.

Violet Nesdoly has an ode to a summer storm, “Lightning”, in a dramatic string of haiku format.

Linda Baie has a great review of our fellow-blogger Greg Pincus’ ebook The Late Bird, a collection of fifty of his witty, funny and thought-provoking poems first featured on his blog.  Go Buy!  (In her Poetry Friday post, Linda also asks us to take a look at her previous post – I’m glad she did – it’s a review plus giveaway of what looks set to becomg a very important book for teens feeling vulnerable because of their sexuality – The Letter Q.)

Andi at A Wrung Sponge has an original haiku with one of her equally beautiful photographs.

April Halprin Wayland says of her post over at Teaching Authors: “We teach you how to write a Hidden Words poem and give you a pretty stinky example of one I wrote. (We’re also announcing our latest book giveaway winner and talking about taking your writing to a different locale to refresh your creativity.)”  – And by the way, it’s not a “stinky” example at all!

Tabatha Yeatts focuses on James Flecker’s work today.

Iphigene continues Gathering Books’ focus on the Festival of Asian Literature and the Immigrant Experience with Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus.

Janet Squires takes a look at Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes.

Karen Edmisten has “some rambling”! This post about posting about poetry will make you smile and nod!

Father Goose aka Charles Ghigna has some new snickersome snickers – “a few for the funny bone”.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has a wonderful original poem about an imaginary mechanic.

Donna has “written about farming the land this week to add to my Tugging of Tides poem…”

Betsy has been inspired by Mary Lee’s Wordle idea (see above) and Teachers Write Camp.

Kerry Aradhya highlights the rhyming picture book Subway by Anastasia Suen and Karen Katz.

Lorie Ann Grover has an original haiku “Puckered Pear” (such a great title!).

Julie Larios is on a Poetry Roller Coaster at Books Around the Table (her critique-group blog):  “I offer up some thoughts about the up-and-down nature of my love of poetry, and I post a poem by William Jay Smith titled “Moon” which is not about the moon at all.”

Ruth brings us extracts from Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey “in honor of the nature on our vacation”.

Jone has been inspired to write Summer Room by Joy Acey’s call at the beginning of the day to write a poem about “My Room” (see above).

Greg Pincus points to his interview on Katie Davis’ podcast  in which he talks “about poetry (and self-pubbing poetry, too). Ya… a self-reflexive Poetry Friday!”

What a wonderful Poetry Friday gathering – a veritable feast.  I know the day’s not over yet in some parts of the world so if any more links come in, I’ll update them on my morrow… in the meantime, happy reading!

Bilingual Children’s Books – good or bad?

Monday, January 31st, 2011

When PaperTigers’ book reviewer Abigail Sawyer mentioned to me that she is going to be hosting a Blog Carnival about bilingualism over at Speaking in Tongues, she got me thinking. Again. I first started mulling over bilingual children’s books here in relation to Tulika Books, a publisher in India that produces bilingual books in many different Indian languages alongside English, and to former IBBY Preisdent and founder of Groundwood Books Patsy Aldana’s comments in an interview with PaperTigers, and I will quote them again here:

I have always been opposed to the use of bilingual books, however given that Spanish-only books hardly sell at all, I have had to accept that books in Spanish can only reach Latinos if they are bilingual. This goes against everything I believe and know to be true about language instruction, the joy of reading in your mother tongue…

I was surprised by Aldana’s dislike of bilingual books because I love them and my children love them, and I have found that they can be a joy for inquisitive children seeking to learn independently – but I do realise that our contexts are different. Aldana’s dislike of them seems to stem from their being a substitute for monolingual Spanish books in an English-biased market, and she has found a pragmatic way of providing books in their mother-tongue to the Latino community in North America.

We love reading bilingual books because, although our main vehicle is the English, having another language running alongside, often enhances the reading experience for us, especially where the setting of the story is culturally appropriate to the language. This is true even when we can’t read the script, because even without being able to understand it, we can sometimes pull out certain consistencies. Seeing the writing always provides a glimpse of that different culture.

One of my favorite books of the last few year’s (more…)

Patsy Aldana appointed as a member of the Order of Canada

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Groundwood Books Publisher Patsy Aldana has been appointed as a member of the Order of Canada, one of Canada’s highest civilian honors given in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation. The announcement was made in Ottawa on December 30, 2010 and Aldana was chosen for her contributions to children’s publishing in Canada and around the world.

Aldana has just completed a term as the President of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and was also recently named the 2011 recipient of the Ontario Library Association Les Fowlie Intellectual Freedom Award.

This excerpt from the Jan 3, 2011 edition of the Globe and Mail outlines Aldana’s beliefs on the importance of reading:

Adults sometimes forget what reading means to children… Reading is a window into oneself and others. Reading is a bulwark of democracy. And we don’t do enough to nurture our children’s love of reading.

Each child should have access to books that are right for him or her…[Reading] talks to you about who you are, or it tells you something about who the other is… and it’s essential to becoming a free person in a democratic society. If you become a reader, you have a chance to become a critical thinker, to be a person who has some power over your life.

Congratulations, Patsy! It is a well-deserved honor. We hope more and more people will embrace your message of helping children discover the pleasures and experience the power of reading!

Multilingual/ Multicultural…

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Head on over to Uma Krishnaswami’s Writing with a Broken Tusk to see a presentation from Tulika Books called “Multilingual Publishing – Walking the Tightrope” – it’s quite a long read but definitely worth it. Presenting different languages in children’s books is something I’ve been musing for a while – especially after reading Patsy Aldana’s interview with PaperTigers recently, in which she said:

I have always been opposed to the use of bilingual books, however given that Spanish-only books hardly sell at all, I have had to accept that books in Spanish can only reach Latinos if they are bilingual. This goes against everything I believe and know to be true about language instruction, the joy of reading in your mother tongue…

..and also having just read Nancy Bo Flood’s Warriors in the Crossfire, which raises dilemmas of language/writing in a colonial language (look out for our review in our June issue).

This is definitely a topic that needs to be pursued further…

Q&A with Patsy Aldana of Groundwood Books, publisher of "My Little Round House"

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Groundwood Books logoEstablished in 1978, Groundwood Books is a small children’s book publisher, associated with House of Anansi Press, that specializes in Canadian authored books (with a special interest in books by First Nations authors), bilingual books in English and Spanish, translations from around the world, and a non-fiction line aimed at young adults. Their catalog features a long list of award-winning titles that reflect individual experiences and are of universal interest.

Patricia (Patsy) Aldana, founder and publisher of Groundwood Books (and president of IBBY, the International Board on Book for Young Readers, since 1997), answered our questions about My Little Round Rouse, one of the seven titles selected for inclusion in our Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set Donation Project; her commitment to publishing books by First Nations authors; the multicultural titles on their Fall list, and more.

In our series of interviews with the publishers of the books selected for our Spirit of PaperTigers project, I normally start by asking how the book in question came about as a project for the publisher. Since we already know the answer to this question in relation to My Little Round House, both from our interview with author Bolormaa Baasansuren and from translator Helen Mixter’s article, My Little Round House: The Journey of a Picture Book from Mongolia to Canada, we’ll start by asking…

PT: What in particular attracted you to My Little Round House?

PA: I thought it was a really special book about people whose lives are very different from ours. I also thought it was a very unique look at a baby’s life, a life that despite being nomadic seemed wonderfully cosy and safe.

PT: The books you publish often tell the stories of people whose voices are underrepresented. What first motivated you to start on this path and how do you manage to stay true to your mission?

PA: Being a Guatemalan, I guess that seeing the world through the eyes of the marginal has always come naturally to me. There are so many books published from and for the mainstream that, for me, focusing on underrepresented authors and illustrators was one way to justify being a publisher. As a small Canadian house, this focus has also been a way for us to distinguish ourselves from the huge multi-nationals with whom we have to compete.

PT: How did the decision to stop selling rights to the American market and to start publishing your books in the US come about?

PA: As US publishing changed from the editor-driven houses that I first came to know (Margaret K McElderry, Dorothy Briley, Susan Hirschman, Phyllis Fogelman, etc.), it became harder and harder to sell rights to our books in the US. At the same time Canada began to cut funding to school libraries and as a result (more…)

Deborah Ellis, Groundwood Books and USBBY Present a Fundrasing Event for the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

PaperTiger’s current issue features an excellent interview with internationally acclaimed author, humanitarian and peace activist, Deborah Ellis. Deborah has traveled the world to meet with children affected by poverty, war, racism and illness and to hear their stories. Her fiction and non-fiction books give us a glimpse into the lives of children from Afghanistan (The Breadwinner Trilogy), Bolivia (I am a Taxi, Sacred Leaf), the Middle East (Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak) and Southern Africa (The Heaven Shop).

Deborah’s latest book, Off To War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children is a collection of interviews with children of Canadian and American soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her next book, Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees, is due out in March, 2009. Royalties from both books are to be donated to the Children in Crisis Fund of IBBY. This Fund is a program designed to bring books to children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder or natural disaster. The two main activities supported by the Fund are the therapeutic use of books and storytelling in the form of bibliotherapy, and the creation or replacement of collections of selected books that are appropriate to the situation. IBBY hopes that the program will not only provide immediate support and help, but that it will also make a long- term impact in the communities, thus supporting IBBY’s goal of giving every child the Right to Become a Reader.

Tomorrow, January 23rd, from 7:30 – 9pm, Deborah and Groundwood Books, in partnership with USBBY, are presenting a special fundraising event for the Children in Crisis Fund at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Denver, Colorado. Attendees will hear Deborah reflect on her conversations with the children whose words and experiences are shared in her most recent books and will have the opportunity to chat with her. Patsy Aldana, president of IBBY and publisher of Groundwood Books, will speak briefly about the IBBY bibliotherapy programs already underway. Signed copies of Deborah’s books will be for sale and all proceeds from the event will go to the Children in Crisis Fund.

Librarians at Bologna – Part 3: Putting Books into the Hands of Children

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

During our session with the IFLA (International Federation of Libraries Associations and Institutions) in Bologna, both speakers (Patsy Aldana and Viviana Quiñones) stressed the importance of children having access to books which both reflect their experiences and open windows onto other customs and cultures. We were urged to pay a visit to the stand shared by a number of different African publishers, and there we met three very special publishers, all producing books to meet that demand.

The first two were librarians we had met at the session the day before: Antoinette F. Correa from BLD (Bibliothèque-Lecture-Développement) Éditions in Senegal and Pili Dumea of the Children’s Book Project (CBP) for Tanzania.

Antoinette F. Correa of BLD Éditions, Senegal

Antoinette, pictured right with a selection of her books, told me that she set up BLD Éditions to meet the needs of both teachers and pupils, who were crying out for access to good books in their own language. She is a well-known figure in the IFLA, and sees the continued development of libraries as crucial work: as well as publishing books, BLD helps to set up libraries and trains librarians.

Pili Dumea, Children-s Book Project for Tanzania

Pili, pictured left, is secretary to the CBP for Tanzania, which, again, connects children with books published locally. Last year the CBP was awarded the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize for its work promoting the love of books among children and adults. One eleven-year-old, talking about her school library, following the school’s affiliation to the CBP, said

“I have read most of the books in the school library which helped me learn about different topics through interesting stories told in our own national language, Kiswahili, which is easier to understand than English.”

The third publisher was Bakamé Éditions from Rwanda, who publish children’s books in the national language, Kinyarwanda, which is understood by all Rwandans. They also run various projects to promote reading, including their “Bibliothèque en route” – a rucksack library, which takes books out to children who do not have access to an actual library. It gets a tiny mention on their English pages, but if you read French, there’s more here. Editions Bakamé was the joint recipient of this year’s IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award and this article on IBBY’s website is also an interesting read.

The work these organisations are doing is truly awe-inspiring and it was a real privilege to meet Antoinette and Pili.

"All About IBBY – Children in Crisis and Books"

Friday, September 12th, 2008

In her recent post, Librarians At Bologna – Part 1, Marjorie referred to Patsy Aldana, current president of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). This past August, Patsy attended the World Library and Information Congress in Quebec City, Canada and hosted a session entitled All About IBBY – Children In Crisis and Books.

For over 50 decades, IBBY members throughout the world have worked to promote IBBY’s goal that “every child, rich or poor, safe or in danger, with a home or without, has the right to become a reader”. In her presentation, Patsy stressed that every child, everywhere in the world, must have access to books and the opportunity to become a reader in the fullest sense. “Unfortunately”, said Patsy, “this right is not equally available around the world and in most of the poorer countries children don’t have access to many books, much less high quality books. In addition, those children are almost certainly never going to find books that reflect their own lives and cultures”. To help combat this problem, IBBY partnered with Hideo Yamada, a Japanese honey producer and philanthropist, and initiated a five-year programme of workshops in publishing, writing, illustrating, and librarianship in countries that have little or no local publishing. As Patsy says:

Good writing and illustration is not born as such– it is shaped by years of apprenticeship, contact with excellent peers, editors, a market, critics, librarians and, most importantly, receptive, book-loving child readers. We have that kind of expertise through IBBY and, now, thanks to the IBBY-Yamada Fund workshop programme we can share it with others. Our broad network of National Sections means that IBBY, through its dedicated and principled activists, can carry out effective reading projects in many countries that otherwise may not pay children’s reading promotion the attention that is imperative for their growth.

Patsy recapped for the audience the IBBY-Yamada programs that had taken place over the past 2 years in over 25 countries (click here to learn more and see the photos of children benefiting from these programs). Her words, which should echo everywhere: “Reading and books can save lives. They can change lives. They can give children in the most desperate circumstances a way to begin to live again and to understand what has happened to them.” We, at PaperTigers, couldn’t agree more and wish IBBY every success with this endeavor.

Librarians at Bologna – Part 1: Books as Mirrors

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Continuing with our current literacy focus, and thinking towards World Literacy Day on September 8th, this is the first of three posts focusing on and beyond a session at this year’s Bologna Book Fair…

In my first post following our return from the Bologna Book Fair, I highlighted the session organised by the IFLA (International Federation of Libraries Associations and Institutions). The session was organised by the Netherlands Public Library Association and they called it “Invitation to JES: Join – Enjoy – Share”. Despite not being librarians, Aline and I were made very welcome and we really enjoyed chatting to the librarians afterwards. In fact, the various informal discussions got so lively that we were asked to keep the noise down – well, makes a change! As well as our Dutch hosts, there were children’s librarians there from all over the world: Australia, Colombia, Croatia, France, Italy, Japan, Senegal and Tanzania. The atmosphere was buzzing!

We had two speakers: the first, Patsy Aldana, the current president of IBBY, gave us a fascinating talk entitled “Books as Mirrors” in which she traced the history of multicultural book publishing in her home-country, Canada, where her own Groundwood Books has been so ground-breaking (for more on multiculturalism in Canadian publishing, see here). Her childhood in Guatemala without books to mirror her own experiences, mean that she also has a personal affinity to the world of multicultural books. It had been a very painful struggle, she said, to define the role of the writer: who could write legitimately about what? Those white people who had been the only published writers of books under the multicultural umbrella would ask, “Why can’t I write whatever I want? Who are you to tell me not to write about your experience?” and were being asked “What right do you have to steal my story – the world you’re describing is not real”.

This situation is now much resolved in Canada but there are still real concerns. “Children need books that are windows and books that are mirrors,” she said: and unfortunately there is uneven access for children to these kinds of books. What happens to children who never see themselves in the books they read; and one step further, what happens when children are not taught to read in their own language? It is an enormous disincentive to the desire to read. She pointed to the work of some “fabulous” small publishers from all over the world and urged us to visit their stands at the fair – such as Tara Books from India, Ekeré from Venezuela, and Editions Bakamé from Rwanda, (which shared this year’s IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award). Small publishers need our support because so often it is their books which give “that flash of recognition – That is me!”

Citing the example of an Iranian librarian in Sweden who is able to ensure that children of Iranian background can access books attuned to their experience and outlook, Patsy concluded by saying that librarians are the people who can be relied on to bring books to children. Librarians can insist on quality – for without quality it is hard to foster a love of reading and provide the key to the mirror/window.

I think there’s plenty to chew on there and I will post about the second speaker in Part 2!

4th Nami Island International Children's Book Festival – NAMBOOK 008

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Gracefully floating like a leaf on top of Cheongpyung Lake, 63 kilometers north of the Han River, is the tiny Korean Island of Nami. With a circumference of only 6 kilometers, you can cross the half-moon shaped island in a matter of minutes and, in fact, no cars are permitted on the island. Nami is a popular destination for Korean families on a peaceful day trip or for a weekend retreat. It also offers stunning scenery, flora and fauna: so what better place to host a book festival? The 4th annual Nami Island International Children’s Book Festival – NAMBOOK 008 runs from May 1st to June 30th and this year’s theme is “The Echoes of Picture Books”.

Organized by the Korean Board on Books for Young People (KBBY), NAMBOOK began as an event to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen, one of the world’s greatest storytellers. The festival continues to grow in size and popularity, with visitors from around the world; and this year’s festival promises to be the best yet! An amazing program of events for all those interested in children’s literature is well underway. Over 75 countries are represented in the World Picture Book Exhibition, the Hans Christian Andersen Award Winners are exhibited, and workshops feature renowned children’s authors and illustrators. KBBY has organized “Guest of Honor Days”, which offer festival goers a fantastic opportunity to taste diverse cultures of the world via their books and artistic performances. Countries featured in 2008 include: Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Serbia, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, and Vietnam.

KBBY promotes NAMBOOK 008 as one of the most extraordinary places in the world for children, as well as adults, to encounter books:

“It is a celebration of children’s literature with not just a fantastic array of children’s books on display, but plenty of places – both indoors and out – for people to experience the joy of reading, storytelling, book making and other events.”

The festival is a very prominent event to promote IBBY’s missions. In March this year, IBBY president Patsy Aldana announced that Nami Island Inc. of South Korea has generously agreed to sponsor the Hans Christian Andersen Awards (perhaps the most prestigious awards in the world of children’s books). In a press release, MS. Aldana said

“The annual NAMBOOK festival that attracts children’s books, performers, and artists from around the world; the Centre for Environmental Studies; the Artists’ Centre and residential cottages where artisans and artists can come to work and live with nature; the UNICEF pavilion; the outdoor sculpture garden; and most especially, the numerous little nature libraries scattered throughout the island, make this one of the most extraordinary places in the world for children, as well as adults, to encounter books”.

Have you attended NAMBOOK? If so, we would love to hear from you!