While it may not feel like it, today is the first day of spring! We’re very excited for our forthcoming spring titles, which you can check out here. To kick off the spring season, here’s an image and poem from Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems/Jitomates Risueños y otros poemas de primavera, written by Francisco X. Alarcón, and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez, published by Children’s Book Press, an imprint of LEE & LOW.
In this excerpt from her 2012 Pura Belpré acceptance speech, Under the Mesquite author Guadalupe Garcia McCall shares how writing the book helped her heal and brought her closer to her father:
My life with my mother was full of love and acceptance. I was blessed to be her daughter, even if for a little while. That’s why I wanted Under the Mesquite to be a true reflection of her nature. I wanted it to do what she did best—to nurture young people’s dreams, to give them the courage and strength to pursue those dreams. Writing Mesquite was both wonderful and painful. For in the process of writing this book, I pulled out and dusted off memories I had set aside, memories I had tucked into deep crevices in my heart, put away for fear of losing them. I am glad they are written down now. My mother lives because this book exists. It is her nurturing spirit that resides in these pages, her wisdom, her love, and I am so happy to be able to share her with you.
Congratulations to Juan Felipe Herrera, who has just been appointed California poet laureate! Herrera is the author of 28 volumes of poetry and other works, including several award-winning children’s books.
In honor of Juan Felipe Herrera, here’s a poem from his book The Upside Down Boy:
After a week of reading a new poem aloud to us every day
This Father’s Day, remember that you will always have your dad’s love and protection.
Since Poetry Month is in full swing, we asked some of our poets at LEE & LOW to provide tips for reading poetry to your kids or students. There were so many great answers that we’re going to break them up for you. Our first response is from Pat Mora, author of Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico! Americas’ Sproutings, Confetti: Poems for Children (Confeti: Poemas para niños), and Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers, among many others. Check out her advice, and try it! Be sure to let us know how it goes, and keep an eye out for the next tip!
Amazing Faces, one of our new spring books, is a collection of poems celebrating the amazing people and faces that surround us every day. We asked the poets to share the stories behind their poems. Here are some of their responses:
Jane Yolen, “Karate Kid”
A number of years ago, Lee Bennett Hopkins asked me to write a poem for a sports anthology. “How about karate?” I said. There is a dojo near my house. I had some friends who had kids in karate and a granddaughter who was just starting into the martial arts. Also, I find some of the Chinese martial arts movies fascinating in a balletic sort of way.
And so I wrote “Karate Kid.” It has taken on a life of its own. Sometimes (if a writer is very lucky) that happens.
Rebecca Kai Dotlich, “Amazing Face”
I am, and will always be, fascinated by children. Especially very young children. I look at them and a million dreams and possibilities run through my mind: the person they will become, the journeys they’ll take, the hobbies they’ll choose, the crafts they’ll learn, the billowed joys they will experience, the heartache and heartbreak they will ultimately and unfortunately experience too. I want each child on this Earth to know they are loved by someone, that they are valued, and that they are truly and downright amazing. I hope my poem sends this message, whoever is listening.
Mary Cronin, “Firefighter Face”
It’s poetry month! What better time to share our favorite poetry?
Mine skews towards narrative poetry, and especially toward works written before the development of the novel:
Beowulf — particularly the Seamus Heaney translation, which combines beautiful words and flowing language with the exciting, bloody story.