Friday, May 23, 2014

Clickety-Clack: A Poetic Train of Thought

Toot, Toot!  Chatham is a railroad town, and on Saturday, June 14, we plan to commemorate our train station's 100th birthday during the annual Fishawack Festival.  We'll celebrate with exhibits of railroad memorabilia, displays of historical photographs, and an exciting attempt at the Guinness World Records mark for the most train whistles blown simultaneously at a single location!

Take a look at The Song of the Train, written by David McCord, performed by Parker, and featuring favorite train Thomas the Tank Engine.  The poem makes good use of onomatopoeia-- words that sound like their meaning-- to describe the noise and motion of the train:


Reading the Rails in the LMC: Check out nonfiction picture book Locomotive by Brian Floca (385 FLO).  The 2014 Caldecott Medal Winner imagines what passengers experienced as they traveled across plains and over mountains, journeying west on the brand new transcontinental railroad in 1869.
And now, Poetry Paraders, we come to the end-- or maybe the caboose-- of this blog post!

Monday, May 19, 2014

All Creatures... Great and Small, Scary and Silly

As Poetry on Parade marches through Springtime, we're discovering that many of our favorite poems feature creatures: all sorts of creatures... real or imagined, great and small, scary and silly.  
First, let's read a great poem about a great creature. Eletelephony, written by Laura Elizabeth Richards, includes wonderful wordplay and ridiculous rhyme.  The tongue-twisty poem doesn't specify whether the enormous, plant-munching mammal in question is of African or Asian variety. We wonder: which species is more likely to pick up a telephone?


Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

Next up, we share a poetic moment with creatures of the small and squeaky variety; namely, minuscule rodents with pointed snouts, rounded ears, and long hairless tails.  Eek!  Elizabeth and Paige read Mice, a whimsical poem by English poet Rose Fyleman:


When we think of scary creatures, frightening and unfriendly monsters come to mind.  Fortunately, these scary creatures are also imaginary creatures!  Here's The Monster, written by James Proimos and performed by Kyle:


Sometimes, the creature is silly and the poem is porky!  Take a look at My Pig Put on a Bathing Suit, written by Jack Prelutsky, with a video presentation created by Harrison and John O. 


By most accounts, pigs are intelligent, highly social omnivores, which means they would probably enjoy reading, sharing... and eating poetry! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Here's a Heaping Helping of Shel Silverstein

We're hungry for poetry!  It's time to grab a bite to eat, savoring and sharing delicious verses written by Shel Silverstein. What's on the menu?  For starters, let's sample folklore with a twist.  We've heard stories of magic lamps and genies granting wishes.  In The Genie in the Flask, performed by Tommy and Will, things turn out differently:


Silverstein Sketches by Tommy C.

Next, let's nibble on a mouth-watering main dish about a misbehaving automaton, My Robot, performed by Dash and Owen:

Taste buds craving something silly?  Here's the scrumptious Ickle Me, Tickle Me, Pickle Me Too, performed by Sydney and Julia:


We hope you saved room for dessert!  Today's special is the short and sweet Hug O' War, performed by Kylie and Paige:


Poems to savor, poems to share. Remember, Poetry Paraders, as you move through life, never bite off more than you can chew... and a serving of Shel Silverstein every day is satisfying but not too filling!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Achoo to You: Pollen and Poetry in the Air!

Poetry: it kept us warm during the long, bone-chilling winter, through snowy, blowy Polar Vortexes that delayed the blooming grass and trees.  Unfortunately, now that it's finally warming up, we're feeling like one big pollen-filled Sneeze! Let's celebrate Springtime with a poem, this one written by Maxine Kumin and performed by Libby, Iona, and Olivia:


Turns out, our poetic problems go way beyond grass and tree pollen... we're Allergic to school!  Grayson and Emma perform Robert Pottle's poem:


Of course, it's not just pollen that inspires poetry.  Here's a poem about a boy with a special (and sort of gross) talent. Willie the Burper is written by Bill Dodds and performed by Ryan and Grace:


Thankfully, poetry doesn't cause indigestion.  So this spring, let's take a long walk, stop and smell the roses, and... achoo!  Happy Poetry Vortex!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Poetry in the Present... Voices from the Past

At Lafayette School, our annual Poetry Parade is in full swing! We're reading and writing poems, sharing them with friends and family. Sometimes, we find inspiration in history and cultural tradition.  Here's a Lafayette Original celebrating a modern international sporting event evolved from games held in ancient Olympia, Greece:

by Kaleigh C.

Work hard
All the time
You'll get the gold
And always shine

You're always first
You're never last
You won't be fast

You're standing there
Tall and strong
While the crowd is chanting

Let's take a look at a Lafayette Original created by Rory and Sam, inspired by an important historical and cultural event.  Passover commemorates the Jewish people's liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt:


Check it out in the LMC: Hand in Hand: An American History through Poetry presents illustrated poems detailing lives and events that shaped our nation's story.  Here's a poem featuring a Revolutionary War patriot with a famous signature:

John Hancock

he said,
his name




"King George
won't need
to see

He can read
it from here
to his
British clock,"

the rebellious

John Hancock.

--Lee Bennett Hopkins

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Finding the Light: Illuminating Line Breaks

Eureka!  We've seen the light about line breaks!  In library classes, we've been exploring this useful poetic tool.  Line breaks may occur at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a thought.  They change the pace of a poem, asking readers to stop or to continue, to speed up… or to pause and think.  Line breaks highlight a word or image, and they help a rhyme along.  When they work their magic, line breaks turn prose paragraphs into magnificent poetry! 

First, we read the paragraph:

Light Bulb by Juan Olivarez
The light bulb shines in my eye.  In its ray of light I see hope.  It offers a bright future.  I feel a sense of optimism than can only be felt by a child learning to read for the first time.  I fee tranquil, serene.  When the switch is flicked off.  Shhhhh.  Darkness arrives and everything changes.

After a lesson about line breaks, we read the poem:

Light Bulb
by Juan Olivarez

The light bulb
Shines in my eye
In its ray of light I see
It offers a bright

I feel a sense of
That can only be felt by a child
Learning to read for the first time

I feel

When the switch is flicked

Darkness arrives and

Fresh from a Writer’s Notebook: Check out a Lafayette Original that makes good use of line breaks, transforming a personal narrative paragraph into an expressive poem about a Cape Cod experience:

The Surprise

came up 
to the boat
swam away

We followed him
We followed him

Until the water
got too shallow

His gray head
under the sea
heading back
to his
seal family.

-- Jack W.

Finally, we share Helen Keller, written by American poet Langston Hughes and performed by Emma and Grace.  The poem features powerful line breaks and pays tribute to an American heroine’s spirit and courage... her inner light.  


Helen Keller

In the dark,
Found light
Brighter than many ever see.
Within herself,
Found loveliness,
Through the soul’s own mastery.
And now the world receives
From her dower:
The message of the strength
Of inner power.

--Langston Hughes

Poetry not only helps us see the light, it helps us feel the light.