Posts tagged ‘poetry for children’

INTERVIEW with author Marsha Casper Cook about her book, The Busy Bus

The Busy Bus by Marsha Casper Cook; published by Fideli Publishing, 2008.


Marsha Casper Cook is the author of six published books and 11 feature-length screenplays, a literary agent with 15 years of experience and the host of a radio talk show about the business of writing and entertainment, “A Good Story is a Good  Story,” on the Red River Radio network. She and her guests discuss writing and what’s new in the entertainment field. This year, she also began hosting another talk show “The Whole Truth”; on this show she and her guests discuss day to day issues that effect family life. Marsha has also appeared as a guest on other network shows and will continue to make frequent visits to other shows.

Thank you for being my guest on KidsRead.  What types of books do you write?

I have written children’s books, a non fiction book and a novel. I think I have a lot of fun when I write children’s books but I also enjoy writing  adult fiction because  of the freedom it gives you.

What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?

For children’s books I like first person because I feel kids relate to the characters faster and they are easier to read out loud. For adults I like it either way.

How many children’s books have you written?

I have done three children’s books and have enjoyed doing all of them. Writing for children is not as easy as some may think. Children pick up on many things that adults might not think of and you have to engage the children especially if you are reading out loud.

Can you tell us about The Busy Bus?

The Busy Bus is a delightful collection of poems. The poems are witty and fun color illustrations making it a wonderful read along book. The Busy Bus is sure to generate smiles and giggles for young children especially when read out loud. It’s great in a classroom or library, too. Not only is this amusing but it gently speaks of relationships with siblings & other social issues facing children. I routinely donate a percentage of book sales to various charities.

Can you share a little about your current book?

My new book NO SHOES NO CLUES is my favorite. I have written it in first person and the character EMELINA is a young girl who knows where she’s going and likes to succeed.

Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

I am writing a screenplay at the moment and it always amazes me when the story comes out with a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes I feel that my story might be weak but if I make it to page 25 I know I know I have a story and I can continue on. A screenplay usually has no more than 120 pages.

Thank you, Marsha, for being my guest on KidsRead.

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December 22, 2010 at 5:35 am 2 comments

Get immersed in An Egret’s Day

An Egret’s Day, poems by Jane Yolen, photographs by Jason Stemple; published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Honesdale, Pennsylvania; 2010.

I had to do a double-take when I read “photographs by” on the cover of this book.  The colors are so vibrant, so utterly perfect, I figured it was an illustration.  Oh but no, the book is filled, from cover to cover, with impeccable images of egrets.  My favorite is the close-up of the feathered wing.  So I did pick out this book based on the cover.  

As it was written by Jane Yolen, I had no doubt that I would be thoroughly taken by the words.  And I was.  How in the world does she do it?  Isn’t it enough to be able to write entertaining children’s books?  No, Ms. Yolen, as usual, goes above and beyond.  She is able to take facts, interesting though they may be, and weave them into entertaining yet informational poetry.  Just to make sure the information comes across, brief blurbs about the birds are added to each page.  And even they are written with poetic flair.  This book has sealed Jane Yolen as the “godmother of children’s literature” in my mind.  And I won’t forget she writes for young adults and adults as well.

Did I mention that author and photographer are mother and son?  Talent runs deep in this family!

This book was cataloged in the 811s (the poetry section for the Dewey-challenged).  But it could just as easily be shelved with the other books on birds somewhere in the 590s.  Teachers need to be aware of this book.  Pathfinders, displays, and word of mouth should be used to get this book into the hands of children.  I think it’d be a great cross-categorical tool during poetry month.

July 9, 2010 at 6:43 pm 1 comment

This Land Is My Land…this book is your book…

This Land Is Your Land words and music by Woody Guthrie, illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen; published by Little Brown, Boston; 1998.

Jakobsen’s paintings highlight the mental images depicted by the lyrics of Woody Guthrie’s classic anthem.  Each page is brought to life in folk art images that mesh seamlessly with Guthrie’s folk song lyrics.   I loved that Pete Seeger wrote a tribute; the musical notation with all the lyrics are featured; and a photo-biography is included.

I’d definitely use this in a patriotic display or as a read-aloud/ sing-along with patriotic activities.  Perhaps I’d assemble Independence Day themed boxes for families to check out for summer reading together or to take on vacation (I’d include a CD of folk songs that includes this song).


January 7, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Poems for a journey

Come with Me: Poems for a Journey by Naomi Shihab Nye, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino; published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins; Hong Kong; 2000.

The relief collages attracted me to this book and they provide a remarkable subtext to the poetry.  Including a crazy quilt pattern on the end pages let us know that there will be cohesion to the mixture of poetry inside.  Each poem addresses a different aspect of journeying; the text and images meld magically to tell the story of each poem uniquely–sometimes as concrete poems, sometimes with text color matching the focus of the image.

I’d put this book in a box with a vacation theme.  It would also be a good tool for collaboration between the language arts and art teachers.

January 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Poetry can be contagious

Chicken Socks and other contagious poems by Brod Bagert, illustrated by Tim Ellis; published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press; Honesdale, PA; 1993.

Watercolor and colored pencil illustrations provide children something fun to look at while listening to the poems in this book.  They are lovely additions to the pages, but only occassionally add a dimension to the poetry: like the chickens looking at the girl with chicken socks; the calendar pages that highlight the daily misdeeds in “Next Week’s Angel;” and the clothes pinned nose in “Barnyard.”

I’d use this in a display during April (National Poetry Month) or in a box of resources for children that are sick at home.

January 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Little Dog is so sweet!

Little Dog and Duncan by Kristine O’Connell George, illustrated by June Otani; published by Clarion Books; New York; 2002.

The wrap around image on the cover gives us perspective on how much bigger Duncan is than Little Dog.  The bright green end pages let us know that this is a happy book.  The watercolor images help portray the emotions of the poems–little children would learn a great deal about recognizing emotions in the illustrations in this collection.

I’d recommend this book for a child that will be going on his or her first sleep-over to demonstrate that homesicknesses is a natural response but that an overnight can be an adventure too.

January 7, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Cool Salsa

Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States edited by Lori M. Carlson; published by Henry Holt and Company; New York; 1994.

As the introduction suggests, bilingual poetry books are not just for native speakers learning English, but are also for English speakers learning Spanish.  This collection encourages a love of Latino language, culture and poetry.  It also provides insight into the lives of children growing up bilingual, as in “Dia de los muertos.”  Occasional line art renditions of chiles remind us that this is a Latino book, although the bilingual versions of the poems are a constant reminder!

This collection is definitely for upper elementary students (and older).  I’d use this book in a bilingual collection to support ESL teachers as well as families learning to speak English.  However, it would also be invaluable to use as a resource for students learning to speak Spanish or learning about this culture.

January 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm


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Disclaimers: Per the FTC regulations, please note that sometimes books are received for review for free by publishers or authors. All books (ARCs, galleys, library or purchased) will be reviewed fairly; no special consideration is given to anything reviewed on this blog. In addition, I make every attempt to avoid spoilers. Sometimes they happen inadvertently or because they are important to defend a review; not all spoilers have been removed or fixed. This disclaimer is a general statement included as a warning to readers.

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