Friday, August 27, 2010

A Book Giveaway, Thinking Outside the Box, And A Summer Poem

Happy Poetry Friday!  The poem’s below but first….make sure to enter TeachingAuthors’ Magnificent Patricia Reilly Giff two-book-set book giveaway!

Okay, now let's settle down for the show. 

At TeachingAuthors we pick a topic, tilt our heads like my pup Eli does, and put our own spin on it. Our new topic, starting today is: Share a few lines you admire from a children’s book and why.

True confession: I don’t like jazz.  But I love out-of-the-box thinking.  And in the picture book GIANT STEPS, Chris Raschka creates a visual interpretation of jazz artist John Coltrane’s composition “Giant Steps” that is so out of the box, the cover doesn’t say “by Chris Raschka,” but “remixed by Chris Raschka”.

My favorite lines?  So many!  But the beginning lines grabbed me like no others:

"Good evening. And thank you for coming to our book." 

And so begins a wildly original book featuring a box, a snowflake, some raindrops, a kitten and an unseen narrator/conductor.

Publishers Weekly says, in part:
In this “innovative visual deconstruction of one of jazz saxophonist Coltrane's most beloved compositions…the unseen narrator/conductor introduces the performers…Each performer (representing percussion, bass, piano and sax) appears in a different color and shape... The performance begins, only to be interrupted when the kitten ("the melody on top of everything")…takes steps a little too large ("People, people! What happened?")...Those who possess a little musical knowledge will delight in such arch references as the conductor's hilarious critique ("First of all, raindrops, you were rushing on page 19"). Even the jacket repeats the book's central conceit: a clear plastic wrap featuring the kitten, painted in thick black outline, overlays the other elements. A must for jazz enthusiasts and, for first-timers, a clever introduction to this wildly creative musical genre. Ages 4-7.”

Raschka's approach is so unique and beautiful, I was sure that this book would win the Caldecott when it came out in 2002. 

Out-of-the-box thinking is beautiful in any genre.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve been watching The Great Food Truck Race (because some local --Hermosa Beach, CA--folks are in it).  The crew of the truck called Nom Nom includes such wonderfully original thinkers, it’s a pleasure to see how they approach each week’s competition.

One week they decided to pass on the challenge (talk about thinking outside the box in a challenge-based show…)…and still stayed in the game. Beautiful.

Perhaps you can approach today’s WRITING WORKOUT by thinking outside the box.  (I didn’t…but you may wish to!)

Here's today's simple writing prompt: before summer slips away, write a summer poem. You may wish to include repetition, as I did below, but you don’t have to.

Here's my poem:

by April Halprin Wayland

I like summer
when Eli is chewing his old bone
which hasn’t had meat on it for forever
and it is a gnawing chewing crunchy sound
and I just mixed yogurt and honey and pecans together
which is deeply delicious

I like the summer
when Mom opens the roof of our old car
and we zoom down the road with all the windows down
and my job is to watch Eli to make sure
he’s only putting his head out of the window
and not trying to hang his whole body out.

I like summer
when shoes are optional and I opt no
and the breeze is good on my shoulders
and the cement is hot on the bottoms of my feet
and we get to go to the thrift store after all the errands
and I can buy anything I want for three dollars
and I pick the little red boat with a real sail

I like summer
when Dad puts one leg on the arm of our old couch
and he’s reading a mystery novel
and its night and you can hear the crickets outside
because the door is open
and Mom and I are playing Scrabble
and I have all the letters for SUMMERY
and the first M and the Y are on triple letter squares.

I like summer
because my breathing gets slower
and we don’t have to go anywhere
and we walk the dog without shoes
and a postcard comes from my friend who lives on a sail boat
and I am almost there with him,
swimming with the dolphins
and I am also here in our backyard, barefoot
eating a deeply delicious grape.

poem and photo © April Halprin Wayland
Eli Wayland


Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for the poem, April. I especially like this line:
>>when shoes are optional and I opt no<<

BJ Lee said...

Very nice, April, brought me right back!

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford said...

April, I've been watching "The Great Food Truck Race," too. Nothing like watching the Food Network while working out! Of course I'm about to write a post about food, so thanks for getting me in exactly the right mindset. :)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Love that show. Why? Not sure, exactly...maybe because it's simple, exciting, filled with interesting characters...maybe because I can picture myself doing it?