Friday, August 19, 2022

Celebrating the THINGS WE FEEL Anthology

I'm excited to finally be able to post today and talk about the latest Pomelo Books anthology Things We Feel, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. The book just happens to include one of my poems! In honor of Poetry Friday, I share that poem at the end of this post along with a link to the Poetry Friday roundup.

Our current TeachingAuthors topic is "One Book I Learned from this Past Year." Things We Feel is especially appropriate to the topic because it was produced as part of a class I took from Sylvia and Janet: Anthologies 201, a four-part course on publishing an anthology for PreK-grade 2. 

My involvement with this book taught me a great deal. I learned not only from Sylvia and Janet's presentations, but also from the process of writing and selecting the poems. Not all the poems in the anthology were written by the students in our class, and we were allowed to participate in the selection of the poems written by outsiders. The project helped me better understand the variety of considerations when putting together a poetry anthology. As a result, I was able to look at my own poems more objectively. One of my biggest takeaways: An anthologist isn't only looking for the best poems, but poems that will be the best fit.

Things We Feel is the third in a series of alphabet anthologies. This book covers a variety of emotions, from A to Z, and is wonderfully illustrated with photographs of children dealing with each emotion. Things We Feel will be of great value to parents and teachers trying to help young children cope with and understand their feelings. Since my poem is "Amazed," it's the very first in the book. 😊  

As part of the Anthologies 201 class, we participated as a team in creating the following short video which could be used as a supplement to the book. (If the video doesn't play for some reason, you can also watch it here.) 

Things We Feel EMOTIONS promo from Pomelo Books on Vimeo.

As I mentioned, Things We Feel is the third in a series from Pomelo Books. Fellow TeachingAuthor April Halprin Wayland and former TeachingAuthor JoAnn Early Macken both contributed poems to Things We Eat, which came out earlier this year. See this blog post to read April's poem. And you can read JoAnn's poem on her website. The first book in the series, Things We Do, was released in 2021. All of the profits from sales of these books will be donated to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund ( You can find buy links for all the books on the Pomelo Books website.

Now, as promised, I'll share my poem, "Amazed." Sylvia and Janet created a terrific graphic of the 2-page spread with the poem alongside the "amazing" photo that inspired it. However, I had to split the graphic into two for the poem to be legible here. So below you'll first see the photo, which appears on the left page of the spread, and then the poem. (If you'd like to see the whole graphic, check out my Tweet here.)



I encourage you to visit Marcie Flinchum Atkins's website to read the fun poem she wrote for the letter Z: "Zany."  You can also see Michelle Kogan's poem in the anthology on her blog post here. And Anastasia Suen shares not only her poem but a related downloadable activity on her website.

When you're done checking out the poems from Things We Feel, don't forget to visit the Poetry Friday roundup hosted by Dave on his blog, Leap of Dave
Happy writing!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Two Books I Learned from this Year: Multiple Narrators by Mary Ann Rodman

We're currently talking about One Book I Learned from Over the Past year. I know, I's supposed to be one book, but why confine yourself to just one?  I've read a ton of middle grade fiction this year, and lot of them had multiple POV's. 

Maybe it's a subconscious thing. My long festering WIP has multiple (three) POV's. Perhaps the Universe is nudging me, with all these excellent examples of how to juggle different narratives. 

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman takes place during the Chernobyl disaster. Eleven-year-olds Oksana and Valentina find themselves evacuating to Leningrad parents, no teachers. Additionally, the girls are sworn enemies. The chapters alternate each girl's POV, in third person limited. A third voice from 40 years in the past occasionally shows up.  Her identity isn't learned until the end of the book. In addition to the effects of a nuclear meltdown, Blankman takes on anti-Semitism, child abuse (mental and physical), religious beliefs and living in the Soviet Union. Heavy as these topics are, Blankman handles them in an age-appropriate manner. Even though the three main characters are girls of the same age, each has a distinctive voice and personality. 

Erin Entrada Kelly's Those Kids From Fawn Creek dropped me into a familiar locale. For many years, I taught in a small, isolated school like Fawn Creek, a place where everyone is either related, or has known each other since birth. A town where no one ever leaves, and no one new moves in. Not until Orchid Mason arrives in the 7th grade, throwing the school's well-established social order askew.. Orchid is a mystery girl who has been all over the world, so how does she wind up in Fawn Creek, Louisiana? The eleven other 7th graders speculate through the alternating perspectives of main characters Greyson, Dorothy and Janie. (There is also a chapter where each of the boys in the class has a short section weighing in with their thoughts about Orchid and girls in general.) Additionally, of the three main characters, each, at some point, is also an unreliable narrator. Who is telling the truth? What is the truth? Can anyone ever know? 
Having read these two books in the same week, my long dormant WIP characters are stretching and yawning, waking up after a long pandemic's nap. I think they're ready to come out and play. 

So am I.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman