Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer: Reading, Writing, and Wrens

On a recent visit to the library, I was happy to find two delightful picture books, perfect for reading anytime.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano celebrates the seasons with soothing, child-friendly poems titled with dates. Gentle illustrations of kids enjoying nature by Julie Morstad perfectly fit the tone.

I especially enjoyed "august 5," which explores the memories of playing on beaches brought back by the treasure "the ocean can carry / with outstretched arms, palms up and pushing forward."

"january 5" describes falling "like snowflakes / (more drift and swirl / than tumble thump / more gentle float / than ouch and bump)."

And I understood perfectly the need to politely speak to the snow ("thank you very much, but no") in "march 13." 

Every Day Birds by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater succinctly describes twenty common North American birds in child-friendly rhyming verse that captures the essence of each bird in one line. Simple, colorful cut paper illustrations by Dylan Metrano and helpful back matter will appeal to young and old birdwatchers alike.

This summer, we've seen very few monarchs, so instead of watching caterpillars turn into butterflies in our backyard like I usually do, I'm focusing on growing more milkweed.

On the positive side, after hanging numerous birdhouses in our backyard summer after summer, we finally have our first nesting wren family. Their joyful-sounding burbling is a musical treat all day long. Here's a shape poem I wrote years ago when I hoped they'd stay.

Congratulations to Lois D., who won our Teaching Authors Giveaway of Mary Ann Rodman's First Grade Stinks!

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Books 4 Learning. Enjoy!

JoAnn Early Macken


Irene Latham said...

JoAnn, I am loving your bird/nature theme today... that shape poem is wonderful with its HOME in the heart of that word-birdhouse! And both these books are 2016 favorites of mine. Thank you for sharing.

jan godown annino said...

Hello dear JoAnn,
Our monarchs are late, too, at our milkweed, but I saw one yesterday.
Thank you for highlighting each of these books. I love their titles & everything I've heard about of these titles.
This reminds me to enjoy reading them.

Amy LV said...

"the sparrow clutter" - yes! What a delightful poem. We have had bluebirds in our box, and each time I walk by, I want to peek in. And I have been very careful to nurture any milkweed that wants to live here, no matter where it is. Perhaps next year I will plant some too. Thank you for including my book alongside one I love so much. And I'd love to know how you formatted this birdhouse poem too! Happy Poetry Friday! xo

Linda B said...

I love both these books, JoAnn, beautiful words for all the year. Your shape poem is perfect, and the ending exactly right. Happy for you that finally the wrens came!

Patricia Toht said...

I love your concrete poem, JoAnn! And those two terrific books have already found their way into my collection. Thanks for the post.

Ramona said...

Love both of these books and your birdhouse poem. So happy that someone finally made your birdhouse home. We were so hopeful this year, but then something happened and the house was abandoned. Maybe next year! Good to know that others struggle with getting the birdhouses inhabited.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks, everyone! Irene, I'm trying to help spread the word about more of the wonderful books I read & enjoy--including yours!

Jan, I hope you see more monarchs soon! Happy reading!

Amy, I hope we have room for bluebirds someday, too! I used WordArt ( (also in the Help menu: Click Insert, then WordArt, then Tell Me More). Then I used the Snipping Tool ( to capture the poem & my name & saved the capture as a JPEG file. Hope that helps--have fun!

Linda, yes, they are year-round favorites, & I'm happy the wrens finally found their way home.

Patricia, enjoy your summer reading!

Ramona, we hung four birdhouses in our tiny yard for years. This year, we added a fifth, & that's the one they chose. Keep trying! Good luck!

Whispers from the Ridge said...

Love the books that you shared today! I enjoyed your shape poem very much. I feel that same way about birds. You have inspired me to write about my birds today! Thank you for sharing!

Joy said...

I enjoyed your shape poem. Thank you for sharing it and the two great books you selected.

Rosi said...

I really loved both of these books. My favorite day in When Green Becomes Tomatoes is July 9. Thanks for the post. It was full of nice reminders.

jan godown annino said...

Hey again dear JoAnn.
I can't believe I forgot to tell you what fun it was to
turn the screen around & visit your wren house!
And I saved your directions, to try some time.
I'm glad Amy flew in to ask & that you shared so specifically.
Happy weekend!

p.s. on & off, we have house wrens who love a little corner shelf
my hubby & daughter put up, when we saw them precarious on our corner ledge...

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

We planted milkweed last year, and this year I saw my first Monarch in years. In my yard. So happy about it, still. I love the birdhouse shape poem. A delight.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

I do adore a shape poem, and yours invites entry! Thank you.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Kiesha, I'm so happy to hear you're writing about birds.

Joy, I'm glad you enjoyed the books & the poem.

Rosi, I looked up July 9. Yes, another sweet & moving poem!

Jan, good to hear you have wrens in your yard, too. Have fun with the shape poem directions!

Brenda, it's wonderful to watch monarchs fly, feed, & develop. Hope you see more!

Heidi, shape poems are such fun to read & write. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Donna Smith said...

Your birdhouse poem is just right! I love the "sparrow clutter"!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks, Donna!