In the Middle of the Night: Poems From a Wide-Awake House by Laura Purdie Salas & a Giveaway!

Welcome to the next stop on In the Middle of the Night’s blog tour! What a whirlwind! If you missed any of the previous stops, click below for interviews with Laura about how she came up the the idea for these “Poems From a Wide-Awake House,” her writing process, and more. There are also suggestions from teachers on different ways to use In the Middle of the Night in classrooms to support and inspire student writing.

When I first read Laura’s book, I immediately noticed her word choice. Laura has chosen exactly the right words to bring so many everyday household objects to life. A “Mixed-Up Mixing Bowl wobble[s] and sway[s]” in a “bowl ballet.” After a day of pounding the floor, an aching basketball’s “head is sore” and he’s sleeping “in ice.” And who can’t relate to “Lidless Marker’s Lament?” With an aching head and a throat that “feels dry,” this marker is “useless since/you lost my lid.” Angela Matteson’s exuberant illustrations capture the wide range of emotions felt by all the wide-awake objects frollicking through this book.

I shared these poems and more with a fourth grade class at my school as a spark for their writing. They loved the poems and were eager to write their own “wide-awake” poems. Here are just a few.

“Sneaky Button”
by H.

I’m a sneaky button
creeping through the night
clinging to some clothing
to see which one looks right.
Then I see a woodland shirt
that seems to shine with light.

Now the sun is shining
And I am all attached
waiting for my owner
to grab me with with a snatch.
Then
we will go fishing
to get a big fat catch.

 

“Utensils Vs. Pot”
by E.

The pot grabbed the spoon
From its napkin cocoon
The fork went to help,
But he began to yelp.

The clock struck four
When Mr. Spoon opened the drawer
He whacked the pot of soup
And it began to droop.

The pot dropped the spoon
and he began to swoon.
Dang! It’s 6AM so soon!

 

“Pineapple Escape”
by J.

Pineapple feared the big knife
would bring an end to his life.
So he tried to delay
by rolling away.
Now the pineapple
hides out in the stairway.

Your students can write their own wide-awake poems! Laura has created a Padlet where they can share their work and read poems by other students. There are also fun activity sheets available here.

Thank you, Laura and Angela, for this clever, inspiring book! And thank you to Boyds Mills Press for generously donating a copy of In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House to one lucky winner. Be sure to leave a comment by Tuesday, March 26th, to be entered in the drawing.

Blog tour links:

Monday, 3/11 Mile High Reading
Tuesday, 3/12 Reflections on the Teche
Wednesday, 3/13 A Year of Reading
Thursday, 3/14 Check It Out
Friday, 3/15 Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
Sunday, 3/17 Great Kid Books
Monday, 3/18 Simply 7 Interview/Jena Benton blog
Tuesday, 3/19 My Juicy Little Universe
Wednesday, 3/20 Live Your Poem
Thursday, 3/21 Reading to the Core
Friday, 3/22 KidLit Frenzy       Beyond Literacy Link

 

Poetry Friday: “Landscape” by Eve Merriam

             

My friend Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. Heidi is a passionate, brilliant, funny, caring person. She brings these qualities and more to everything she does. Poetry Friday Roundups don’t usually have a theme other than poetry, but from time to time, the host will suggest an optional, unifying theme. Several weeks ago, Heidi announced that she wanted to highlight and support the worldwide School Strike for Climate that took place today. I wanted to write a poem worthy of this important event. As I looked through my notebooks for an idea, I discovered I already had. (Read more about this poem here.)

In her post today, Heidi is sharing Alice Schertle’s “Secretary Bird,” from Mary Ann Hoberman’s gorgeous anthology, The Tree That Time BuiltA Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination. This is a book I return to often. Here is another poem from the collection that feels appropriate for today.

“Landscape”
by Eve Merriam

What will you find at the edge of the world?
A footprint,
a feather,
desert sand swirled?
A tree of ice,
a rain of stars,
or a junkyard of cars?

What will there be at the rim of the earth?
A mollusk,
a mammal,
a new creature’s birth?
Eternal sunrise,
immortal sleep,
or cars piled up in a rusty heap?

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Slice of Life 19: Lesson Learned

I don’t know if it’s because of the time change or because we had parent conferences at the beginning of the week, which altered our schedule or a combination of these and other events, but I feel like I haven’t gotten much accomplished this week. (Check my recent blog posts for confirmation. Oh wait, I haven’t written since Sunday. I rest my case.)

Last night I was planning a lesson on elaboration for a fifth grade class. I had my teaching point, the basic sequence of the lesson, and the mentor text I wanted to use. But I hadn’t written my model. I knew what I was going to write about, but it was after 10:30 and I was just too tired. Knowing I had time to write it in the morning, I headed for bed.

But I couldn’t get the lesson out of my head. Sentences from my unwritten model were swirling around in my head. At 2:00 I told myself to just follow my breath back to sleep. At 2:30 I got up for some water. At 3:00 I gave up and got up to write the model. Then I wrote a possible sequence for future lessons. Then I figured that I was on a roll and might as well write a Slice of Life.

So what’s the lesson? Next time, instead of losing at least four hours of sleep, I’ll make myself a cup of tea and power through another half-hour or so of work. I’ll have a much better chance of getting a good night’s sleep!

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Slice of Life 19: 13 Ways to Eat a Chocolate Chip Cookie

13 Ways to Eat a Chocolate Chip Cookie

When my poetry pal and fellow Slicer Molly Hogan posted a poetry prompt to write about “Cookies!!! Christmas cookies, sugar cookies or any sort of cookie,” I had to think for a bit. Like many of you, my family has many cookie traditions to choose from. In the end, I decided to stick with the cookie that’s been part of my memories forever, chocolate chip.

Once I settled on the kind of cookie, I had to come up with a form. I like to play with poems I’m working on in my head as I drive to work. This isn’t always a good idea because I have to actually pay attention to the other cars on the road! But, as sometimes happens, inspiration struck. Wallace Stevens “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” popped into my head. There must be at least 13 ways to look at a chocolate chip cookie. Or, even better, of eating a chocolate chip cookie. So here you have it, my “13 Ways to Eat a Chocolate Chip Cookie.”

Raw*

Sugar dissolves on your tongue
Sweetness fills your mouth
The chocolate chips still crunch.

Warm

Eleven minutes of heat transform
Lumps of dough into a golden brown,
Gooey confection.

With a glass of cold milk

Break the cookie in half
Dunk one end into the milk,
The longer it’s submerged, the softer will be.

At Nana’s House

There is always a tray of my favorite treat
Waiting on the table by the kitchen door.
Nana serves me two cookies on a red and white plate.

In small pieces

Break the cookie into small bits around the chip.
Nibble slowly. The sweetness of the softened
Morsel explodes like a ripe blueberry.

With Breakfast

Instead of pancakes
Both have eggs and flour
Sometimes people add chocolate chips to pancakes.

Crispy

Let them cool completely
They will crunch when you bite down
And leave crumbs at the corner of your mouth.

After school

When I get home, I’m so hungry
Lunch was hours ago
Cookies ease my hunger pangs.

In two bites

This way your entire mouth
Can savor the flavor
But they’re gone faster.

Chewy

If you put a slice of bread
In the tin
Your cookies will become soft and chewy.

After sledding

While my cheeks are still cold
Cookies and hot cocoa
Warm me up in no time.

Before bed

A single cookie
Helps me forget my cares
And sweetens my dreams.

Anytime

Because chocolate chip cookies
make everything better and
Are the most delicious cookie ever!

* I know all about salmonella concerns, but some habits die hard

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2019

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

 

 

Poetry Friday: Celebrating International Women’s Day

                                     

“It is always better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

Hello, and welcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup! (Visit Renée LaTulippe at No Water River to learn more about Poetry Friday.) 

Two months ago, when I was efficiently filling out my calendar with important dates, I realized I was hosting Poetry Friday on International Women’s Day I never pass up the opportunity for a theme, so I suggested that we share poems celebrating women.

I found this to be a bit more challenging that I anticipated. Right after I posted my idea, astronomer Nancy Grace Roman passed away. After reading about this amazing woman, I thought I might write a poem to honor her. But then I found a post by Maria Papova on BrainPickings about Ellen Harding Baker, an Iowa teacher who lived from 1847-1886. During her short life, she created a quilt depicting our solar system to use during her lessons. Her stunning creation is now part of the collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The National Museum of American History,
Gift of Patricia Hill McCloy and Kathryn Hill Meardon

This confluence of needlework and astronomy drew me to Ellen’s story and made me want to celebrate her life. This poem has proven quite a challenge to write, and I hope it does her justice.

An Ode to Ellen Harding Baker

Silenced by society’s
rules and regulations,
she adhered to its conventions,
fulfilling expectations.

Smiling on her sister,
Minerva granted her a gift:
The skill and creativity
to share her story visually.

Denied the power of the pen,
she embroidered woolen cloth.
Inspired by the spangled sky
and swirling stars above,
she stitched a blazing tapestry
detailing our corner of the galaxy.

Her masterpiece invited
wonderment and awe,
spreading knowledge and delight,
helping imaginations to take flight.

© Catherine Flynn, 2019

Today’s post is also doing double-duty as my Slice of Life. Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

And now for the Roundup! Please join today’s celebration of poetry by sharing your link.

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Slice of Life: What Did You Fall In Love With Today?

One of my favorite podcasts is Krista Tippett’s On Being. Recently, artist Maira Kalman was Krista’s guest. During their wide-ranging conversation, Kalman explained that “The subject of my work is the normal, daily things that people fall in love with.” Krista then asked “Have you fallen in love with something today?” Kalman had quite a list of items she’d fallen in love with that day. It was quite an uplifting, illuminating moment. It also got me thinking. What have I fallen in love with lately?

We have been renovating and adding on to our house for more than a year. It’s exhausting living in a construction zone, but I’m well aware of the first-world status of this problem and try not to complain. Now the end is in sight. So I went furniture shopping. I had an idea for what I wanted, but I also had an open mind. I found a lovely chair covered in soft, deep blue upholstery with a jacquard floral pattern. You sink into it. There is room to curl up. I fell in love with it the minute I sat down.

I also fell in love with a small flock of robins was darting and diving in and out of the trees that surround our school’s parking lot. They seemed to be dancing in pure joy.

A little later, I fell in love again with the color of the sky at dusk. The horizon was the deep pink of  flamingo feathers and gradually lightened to the shade of cotton candy. Who would not fall in love with such sights, which Natalie Babbitt calls “those commonplace marvels” which the world “spreads so carelessly before us everyday?”

What did you fall in love with today?

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Slice of Life 19: The Cult of the Cooking Channel

This poem, which is partially true, evolved from a story idea I found in my journal. This cheesecake is delicious and has become a holiday tradition in my family. You can find the recipe here.

The Cult of the Cooking Channel

She “got” cooking like
some people “get” religion.
The lure of pristine,
well-stocked kitchens was
impossible to resist.

Her favorite high priestess extolled
the virtues of butter,
so tubs of margarine
were tossed in favor
of sticks of unsalted butter.
Garlic was now purchased in bulbs,
not bottles.

She found herself at the mall,
clutching a recipe for cheesecake
searching for the kitchen supply store.
The saleswoman showed her how
to use a springform pan,
Located the “perfect microplane”
For zesting lemons.

At her next stop, she found
red currant jelly, something
she’d never heard of,
tucked away on the top shelf,
filled her cart with cream cheese,
sour cream, and eggs.

Assembling the batter was
surprisingly easy; she just
followed the recipe,
step by careful step.

After the pan was filled
and safely in the oven,
she ran her finger along
the rim of the bowl and licked.
She’d never tasted anything
so delicious.

Baking this luscious concoction
was tedious, but she never
deviated from her mentor’s
instructions.

When her creation was cool
and topped with raspberries tossed
in the warm melted jelly,
she offered it to her family.

Their mouths dropped open.
They regarded her with new eyes.
Who was this woman who had such
hidden talents?

An acolyte of the cooking channel,
eager to discover new recipes,
new truths about herself.

© Catherine Flynn, 2019

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDebKelseyMelanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and each Tuesday throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.