Tag: guysread

Kid’s POV Haiku – Poetry Friday

This week I’ve been looking to nature and experimenting with haiku. I also picked up Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka, perfectly illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Talk about two great tastes that taste great together! Words and images create a lively look at a year of being a boy.

Although I enjoy haiku, I often think they feel too detached from the natural world. All observation, not enough heart. Raczka’s work is quite the opposite. Completely engaging, colloquial, even conversational, I felt like I was re-living my own boyhood memories. He made me reconsider what it is to write authentically from the point-of-view of a child. And, since this is Poetry Friday, I’ve taken a crack at a few Guyku of my own.

I had the good fortune to live in the perfect kid-friendly neighborhood between the ages of 4 and 7. Among other things, we had the Pollywog Pond at the end of the street. Frogs in the summer, skating in the winter. General year-round tomfoolery any time.

I’m not claiming these are on par with Mr. Raczka, but I enjoyed writing them. They brought back some fun memories. We were afraid of that snapping turtle for months! And I didn’t even mention the snake that tried to bite me, fishing for Kivers, the haunted barn or the train tracks. Hmm, wonder if they’d consider a Guyku anthology?

Pollywog Pond Haiku

by Jim Hill

Summer days prowling
around the pollywog pond
for frogs and turtles.

Barehanding bull frogs.
“Mine can jump farther than yours.”
We bet popsicles.

The snapping turtle
came right out of the water.
Scared the pants off me.

Opening milkweeds
to launch a million fluffy,
white paratroopers.

Skipping stones across
the pond to see who can reach
the other side first.


This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Linda at TeacherDance. Go say hello and read some more poetry.

41 Books for Tweens

Call them middle-grade, call them YA, call them a cab. These are the books I’ve read in the last year (or so) that I push on people whenever asked. And even when I’m not if I’m feeling gregarious and you look lost in the library or bookstore. Some you’ve heard of, some you haven’t. Take a look and maybe a buy a few for your kids. Or yourself.

I’m posting this with incomplete commentary on the books, but I’ll pop-in to add more. For realz. Maybe even add some celebrity-author photos.

Alan Silberberg
Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think Milo is mine. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking. I also love the mix of comics and text that brilliantly controls the pacing and heightens the emotional impact. It’s a work of art.

Tom Angleberger
Origami Yoda
Darth Paper Strikes Back

These are the books I’m most likely to push on the frantic mom at the library begging her son to get off the computer and pick out a book. Works every time. And he told me he’s read my blog when I met him this summer. How cool is that?

Dan Santat
Sidekicks Graphic Novel

Super-heroic adventure with funny animals? Sign me up! I’m a Fantat (I’m going to make that catch on, I swear!) He also makes the best book trailers out there. Check this out:

Suzanne Collins
Gregor the Overlander

Confession time: I haven’t read this one, but it’s been highly recommended to me by people I trust. And the author wrote a little series called the Hunger Games you may have hear of, so she knows what she’s doing. Favorite Suzanne Collins Trivia: She wrote several episodes of Wow, Wow, Wubbzy.

Guys Read Anthologies, ed. by by Jon Scieszka
Guys Read: Thriller
Guys Read: Funny Business
Guys Write for Guys Read: Boys’ Favorite Authors Write About Being Boys

I grew up reading short stories in science-fiction anthologies. I love the short story approach they’re taking with this series. I’d kill (metaphorically) to be included in it someday.

Lisa Yee
Milicent Min Girl Genius
Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time
So Totally Emily Ebers
Warp Speed

Jonathan Auxier
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Brian Selznick
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Wonderstruck

Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich
Eighth-Grade Superzero

This book made me want to be a better person. Seriously. The main character works through a lot of teen issues and comes out a community leader. Funny, spiritual (yes, spiritual…) and written with a style that just flows into your brain. Love it. And I’m not just saying this because the author commented here either. Really.

Adam Rex
The True Meaning of Smekday
Fat Vampire

Mac Barnett
The Case of the Case of the Mistaken Identity (Brixton Brothers series)
The Ghostwriter Secret (Brixton Brothers series)
It Happened on a Train (Brixton Brothers series)

Rita Williams-Garcia
One Crazy Summer

Matt Myklusch
The Accidental Hero (A Jack Blank Adventure)
The Secret War (A Jack Blank Adventure)

Jaqueline West
The Shadows: (The Book of Elsewhere; Volume 1)
Spellbound: (The Book of Elsewhere; Volume 2)

Clete Barrett Smith
Aliens on Vacation

Barry Deutsch
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

Carl Hiaasen
Hoot

Patrick Ness
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Book One)
The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking Book Two)
Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking Book Three)

Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game

Lloyd Alexander
The Book of Three
The Black Cauldron
The Castle of Llyr
Taran Wanderer
The High King

Raina Telgemeir
Smile

Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book

Rebecca Stead
When You Reach Me

Patience is a Four Letter Word

PiBoIdMo is chugging along and I am loving it. It’s very cool to see so many people engaged in the act of creating picture books. It wasn’t that long ago that I was convinced I only had one or two story ideas in me. Certainly not enough to consider actually jumping into the kidlit world.  And because I thought I had so few, I would hold them close, sheltering them from the world. And other writers. And definitely from editors.

Joining writer challenges like PiBoIdMo, and working intently on my own the other eleven months of the year, has shown me that the ideas will come. Heck, not only that they’ll come, but that I can hardly stop them. Ideas are everywhere, in fact, once you develop the habit it’s kind of hard not to notice them. Yet another reason to always carry a notepad to capture those idea in the wild. Bring them home and worry about taming the wee beasties later.

So, yes, it’s awesome that we’re cranking out ideas, but here’s the thing. Not every idea needs to be submitted. Some of our ideas, while fun at the time, just might not be good enough to see print. I’m not just deflating your balloon; mine’s losing pressure too. Let’s take a shot at re-inflating them a bit.

One of the more exciting sessions I went to at LASCBWI 11 was a panel by Jon Sciezka and Stephen Malk. They covered a lot of ground while talking about a career plan, but the real takeaway was the point that I echoed above. Not everything needs to be submitted. Say it with me, it’ll take the sting off.

Not. Everything. Needs. To. Be. Submitted.

Band-aid off? Ready to go? Great. If the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (emeritus) doesn’t submit every one of his ideas, maybe we should pay attention to that thought.

You see, at the end of PiBoIdMo you’re going to have a big pile of ideas to weed through. Some are going to sparkle like diamonds. Some are going to stink on ice. A handful will be worth a first draft, revision and development into well-honed manuscripts. You will (rightfully) feel awesome that you stuck with it, found the gems and pursued your craft, turning that brain-burp into a full blown story. This is what we do. We write, we revise. And then, if we’re truly brave, intelligent hardy souls, we think about submitting. And sometimes that answer’s going to be “no.”

Chin up, kid, the process has been worth the effort.

Why wouldn’t you submit your manuscript? I mean, you’ve just worked your proverbial butt off, you’ve got stamps, a well-worn copy of Writer’s Market
chock full of post-it notes and box of envelopes. Let’s go!

Hold on, little chum, let’s look at why we shouldn’t submit. This might hurt a bit, but that’s how we grow. Remember, chin up!

  1. There are too many books like yours out there in the marketplace.
  2. Your idea is preachy. We all want kids to benefit from our books, but being ham-fisted just isn’t the way to go. Take this tip from Seinfeld, “no hugging, no learning.” It worked for them, it’ll work for you. One of the top books of 2011 features a bear that eats the antagonist. Talk about no hugging, no learning!
  3. Your rhyming stinks. This is a tough one to swallow. Editors say they don’t want rhyming books, but we still see a ton of them published every year. And kids love them. “Let me rhyme”, you cry to the heavens! Well, unless you’re rhyming is flawless, unforced and serves the story, step away from the couplets, Joel.
  4. Your writing just isn’t there. Yet. This is probably the hardest one to deal with, and the most difficult to recognize. We have to be brutally honest with ourselves about our brilliant words. Are they really as good as the best picture books you’ve seen? Don’t give yourself an out by citing the books you don’t like that get published (because there are some bad ones out there). Aim high, find the writers that you like best and try to kick their butts. In a friendly, non-competitive way that involves a personal challenge of writing quality and not actual fisticuffs.
  5. If you’re submitting an idea you came up with this month you haven’t worked on it long enough. Write it up, tinker and revise. Then let it sit for a week or two. Even better, bring it to your critique group and let them have at it. Then revise again. Whittle that word count, polish those plot points, and let your manuscript mature like a fine wine.

I know the itch to send it out. I know what it’s like to bask in the glow of accomplishment from hitting “send.” But I also trust that taking a breather between the time you type the final period and the moment you get that teeny-tiny paper cut on your tongue from licking the envelope can mean the difference between “no response means no” and escaping the slush pile.

To paraphrase the immortal words of Johnny Cochran, “If it didn’t sit, you must not submit.”

UPDATE  – If you’re just starting out you might want to read this old post of mine (the same one I linked to in the comments, but I wanted to get it in the post too).

 

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Groo-some

by Jim Hill

Of all the noises I can make
the one that always takes the cake,
surprises some, and spooks a few,
is the mating call of the Groo.

Now don’t look shocked it’s not obscene,
The Groo is chaste and most serene.
When he finds he’s in the mood
He strikes a pose and cops a ‘tude.

The music starts, a string quartet,
don’t blush now, they’re almost set.
He clears his throat and with a start
lets loose a ripping, roaring fart.