Poetrees by Douglas Florian

It is gorgeous today in Upstate NY. We have perfect weather that you can only find when summer and fall overlap. I just took Amelia for a walk to meet my mom, great aunt and grandmother for lunch and the sky is clear as a bell and there is a strong, warm breeze. It’s the kind of day that makes me really appreciate the trees that line our street…as if I could ever forget to appreciate them with my SUNY ESF alum (aka my husband) around. 🙂

Anyway, below are a couple of poems from Douglas Florian‘s Poetrees. Are these illustrations gorgeous or what?

Giant Sequoias

Ancient seers
Of three thousand years.
Heavenly high.
Friends to the sky.
Spongy thick bark.
Large as an ark.
Gargantuan girth.
Anchored in earth.
Growing by degrees
To world’s tallest trees.
Never destroy a
Giant sequoia.

Monkey Tree Puzzle

It’s said that
a monkey could climb
Up this tree in the
Quickest of time.
But climbing back down
Without cracking
Its crown
Is a puzzle so hard,
It’s a crime.


Labor Day Poems

Here are a couple of Labor Day-themed poems. While they are simple enough for children, they are probably more meaningful to adults. Happy Labor Day! Hope you’re enjoying it with your children!

A Nation’s Strength

Not gold, but only man can make

A people great and strong;

Men who, for truth and honor’s sake,

Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,

Who dare while others fly–

Thy build a nation’s pillars deep

And lift them to the sky.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Work while you work,

Play while you play;

One thing each time,

That is the way,

All that you do,

Do with your might;

Things done by halves

Are not done right



The fisher who draws in his net too soon,

Won’t have any fish to sell;

The child who shuts up his book too soon,

Won’t learn any lessons well.

If you would have your learning stay,

Be patient–don’t learn too fast;

The man who travels a mile each day,

May get round the world at last.


Back-to-school worries… (& poetry by Judith Viorst)

Be extra nice to your kids this weekend. If they seem out of sorts, extra rambunctious or act out more than usual, they may be anxious about starting school. After all, as poet Judith Viorst shows us, there are lots of things for kids to worry about…

The First Day of School

Will they let me go when I need to go to the bathroom?
And what if I get lost on my way back to class?
And what if all of the other kids are a hundred, a thousand,
a million times smarter than I am?
And what if we have a spelling test, or a reading test, or an…
Anything test, and I’m the only person who doesn’t pass?

And what if my teacher decides that she doesn’t like me?
And what if, all of a sudden, a tooth gets loose?
And what if I can’t find my lunch, or sit on my lunch,
Or I (oops!) drop my lunch down someplace like the toilet?
Will they let me starve or will somebody lend me a sandwich?
A cookie? A cracker? An apple? Some juice?

And what if they say, “Do this,” and I don’t understand them?
And what if there’s teams, and nobody picks me to play?
And what if I took off my sneakers, and also my socks,
And also my jeans, my sweatshirt, and T-shirt
And started the first day of school on the second day?

–Judith Viorst

I’m very interested to hear what kinds of things you’ve found that your kids worry about going back to school? Comments?

Awesome children’s poetry book Give-A-Way!

This month Cupcakes and Bluegrass is giving away a copy of my daughter Amelia’s current favorite poetry collection, Jack Prelutsky‘s “The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders!”

Just add a comment about the poem below
OR add a comment below with a brief note describing one of your favorite memories
before September 16th and you will be entered to win!

On September 17 we will pick a winner at random and post winner by Sept 20.

When You Are Big
By Sara Furlong, 2010

I wrote this poem for my daughter Amelia in honor of her 6-month birthday, which reminds me that time passes quickly so we should cherish the important things in life. It is actually a rough draft of a picture book manuscript.

When you are big you will not remember
The time when it rained for eleven straight days
And you sat in the house wishing you could play tee ball
Or Frisbee or fly kites or pick some bouquets.

You will remember the day when the rain stopped
And Mom took you out for a walk with your friends.
Then she (just that once!) let you jump in the puddles
And float little boats to the place your street ends.

When you are big you will not remember
The time when your friend broke your favorite crayon
Or the day that she called you a feather-brained ninny
And stomped on the castle you made out of sand.

You will remember the times you played dress-up
And then did a play for the whole neighborhood
Or the time that she helped you clean one great big mess up
And came to bring soup when you didn’t feel good.

When you are big you will not remember
The robot-shaped candy you wanted so bad
That you laid down and screamed on the floor of the market
And then were sent up to your room by your dad.

You will remember your free time with family
And spending whole days doing fun things together
Like building a tree fort or playing badminton
Or having a picnic in beautiful weather.

When you are big you will not remember
Unwrapping your gifts on the day you turned seven
And finding, instead of the puppy you wanted,
That you got some clothes and a hamster named Evan.

You will remember that neat cake your Mom made –
It looked like a chimp with a hat and banana –
And how Dad was blowing balloons up all morning
And Aunt Lulu came all the way from Montana.

When you are big you will not remember
The times you spent staring at big TV screens
Watching cartoons and shows about kids with weird hairdos
And ads for toy airplanes and fast food and jeans.

You will remember the bright days of summer.
You climbed trees so high that you thought you’d touch heaven
And had some magnificent backyard adventures
With rope and a map and your best sidekick – Evan.

When you are big, you will not recall
Your dream about monsters so hungry and tall
That they ate up the moon and they swallowed the stars
And then came to your house to eat all your toy cars!

You will remember how after that scare
You were twirling your fingers in your mother’s hair
As she showed you how everything still was all right–
That the moon still shone bright as she held you so tight.

When you are big you will not remember
The times you were mad about castles and crayons
Or the times you were sad about rainstorms and robots
Or upset by puppies or playthings or plans.

For memories are made up of moments and people
And kindness and caring and fun, most of all.
When you are big, you’ll remember the good times
And people who loved you when you were small.

Some Very Neat Shape Poems by James Carter

Some very neat shape poems by British poet James Carter

(Unfortunately, my font does not do the shape of these justice!)

The Moon Speaks

I, the moon,
would like it known – I
never follow people home. I
simply do not have the time. And
neither do I ever shine. For what you
often see at night is me reflecting solar
light. And I’m not cheese! No, none of
these: no mozzarellas, cheddars, bries, all
you’ll find here – if you please – are my
dusty, empty seas. And cows do not
jump over me. Now that is simply
lunacy! You used to come and
visit me. Oh do return,
I’m lonely, see.


A tree
is not like you and
me – it waits around quite
patiently – catching kites and
dropping leaves – reaching out to touch
the breeze…A tree all day will stand and stare
clothed in summer, winter : bare – it has no shame
or modesty…Perhaps its generosity is the greatest in
the world – it gives a home to every bird, every squirrel,
feeds them too – to every dog it is a loo…And after dark
what does it do? Catch a falling star or two? Shimmy
in the old moonlight? Or maybe have a conker fight?
A tree can give an awful lot : the wood to make a
baby’s cot – pencils, paper, tables, chairs – lolly
sticks as well as stairs …Without a tree we
could not live – a tree, it seems just
loves to give –
but us :
what we
do in return

Garden Shed

shed, a garden
shed, my head is like
a garden shed : it’s full of junk and
flower pots, wellie boots and who knows not –
No, really though, my head is crammed
you can’t get in, the door is jammed :
with things I’ve seen, things I’ve said
things I’ve done and things I’ve read
Plus everything I’ve thought about –
. . . if I was you – I’d just keep out !!

You can listen to Carter’s Words here. Don’t you agree with what he has to say? I know you do…that’s why you’re here! So glad to have you! Nighty night!

Or good morning…

Or afternoon…

🙂 🙂 🙂

Great Back-to-School find! Poetry to help kids learn vocabulary…

Well Defined: Vocabulary in Rhyme When I was little, my brother and I had Jack Prelutsky‘s It’s Halloween! book on tape. We loved it and played it all the time. To this day, I can still recite the entire book. For this reason, I’m a big fan of using rhymed poetry to teach academic lessons — it makes them stick!

So, here’s a cool find that does just that: Well Defined: Vocabulary in Rhyme by Michael Salinger helps kids in grades 6-9 to learn vocabulary found on standardized tests with rhymed verse and humorous sketches on every page. I LOVE this!

Also, of note: this book was published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, a GREAT publisher that I plan to write more about soon. In the mean time, check them out!

More about Well Defined below…

About the Book

Lessons and standardized tests are well known for their focus on vocabulary words that students should know. Terms such as capricious, equivocal, mitigate, and instigate can be baffling and nerve-racking to young adults, especially when they need to demonstrate their knowledge in the classroom or on an exam. Poet Michael Salinger defuses the tension by offering his own tongue-in-cheek definitions that students will surely commit to memory. Giving each word a personality all its own, Salinger creates mini story lines and amusing images, full of wit and irony, that will keep readers chuckling. Cartoonist Sam Henderson’s hilarious drawings add to the fun.


“The personifications are witty and evocative, and the vocabulary is choice enough that the explorations will be intriguing to veteran users and novices alike. … Squiggly and energetic thumbnail-sized cartoons decorate most of the pages; a table of contents (which also identifies the part of speech for each featured word) opens the volume, and each word also gets a quick definition in a footnote underneath its poem.”
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Salinger, a performance poet, offers short, funny and readable poems in this slim volume, which aims to help students with vocabulary words often found on standardized tests. … Adding to the humor are Henderson’s—creator of the Magic Whistle comic book series—simple line illustrations. … The poems are as well-intentioned as they are well-written.”
—Voice of Youth Advocates

Example Poem: Brevity

Brevity gets right to the point
doesn’t dawdle, dicker, or delay
always short and sweet whenever
there is something to do
or say
brevity comes in handy when you
are subject to a chewing out
a bout of the flu
a pain in the neck
or waiting in line for the loo
in fact, this poem has gone on so long
that its recital
would no longer qualify
as an example of its title.

Carnival of the Animals by Jack Prelutsky released 6 Days ago!! SUPER EXCITED!

I just found out a new book by first children’s poet laureate, Jack Prelutsky was released just 6 days ago!! It’s called Carnival of the Animals and looks AMAZING!

All of the descriptions of this book call it “a great way to introduce children to classical music.” Looks like it’s also a great way to introduce children to poetry to me.

CAN’T WAIT TO GET MY (and Amelia’s) HANDS ON THIS ONE!!!! Follow RandomHouseKids on twitter and retweet today’s tweet and you can enter to win this book!

In the meantime, this blog is giving away a FREE JACK PRELUTSKY BOOK! This contest is super easy to enter and your chances are good since Cupcakes and Bluegrass is so new!

ABOUT Carnival of the Animals

“A great way to introduce children to classical music.

America’s first Children’s Poet Laureate has written all-new verses to accompany the composer Camille Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals, and the illustrator of the Harry Potter books has turned these rollicking rhymes into a picture-book fun fest. Included is a CD of the music and of Jack Prelutsky reading the verses. A note to parents and teachers by Judith Bachleitner, head of the music department at the prestigious Rudolf Steiner School in New York City, suggests ways preschoolers can act out the music—tromp like an elephant, hop like a kangaroo, glide like a swan—or, for older children, be creatively inspired by this joyful work.”

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