Poem A Day Challenge April 30, 2019

Hurrah! It's done! Thirty poems in thirty days!

While singing last night at the drop in choir I go to, I wondered if I could possibly write a poem that expressed what singing with others is like. At home later on, I came up with this draft. 


Can anyone write a poem
About how it feels to sing?
Music's a universal code,
With no words for this thing.

Soprano, alto, soar above
Bass and baritone below,
A holy commune of vocal range
From which the sacred grows.

We the lowly warblers,
Let harmony feed our souls,
And head on home into the night,

Poem A Day Challenge April 29, 2019

Last week I read a post about Opposite Poems by Alan J Write at Poetry Pizzazz. Referencing Paul Janeczko from 'How To Write Poetry,' Alan explained the model and provided some samples. According to Alan, "the poems are written in rhyming couplets" but can be expanded. 
I thought I would try one and then couldn't stop!

Here are a few of mine.

What’s the opposite of magic?

A boring world, dull and tragic

What’s opposite of me?

Is not you, it’s we.

United us raising a fuss,

On this beautiful round blue bus.

The opposite of spring

Are leaves that autumn brings.

The opposite of hate,

Is imagining your fate,

If you were someone other

Than your sister or your brother.

The opposite of emptiness,

Is our grandchildren’s messiness.

Without them we can survive.

But with them here, we will thrive!

The opposite of storm

Is inside where it’s warm.

Blue sky and yellow sun,

Outside play, having fun.

What's the opposite of home?

A poet who has no poem.

#IMWAYR April 29, 2019

#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

I am happy to have gone from working 4 days a week down to three. The house was getting to be a disaster and I managed to make a bit of a start on cleaning out cupboards. Thank goodness for audiobooks to listen to while I'm doing this mundane, but necessary work. 

I am even happier that the Poem A Day challenge is nearly over!


22. Earth Day
23. Grandma and Grampa

24. And the People

25. Marguerite

26. Arrival*

27. Substitute

28. earth wept

Hurrah! Only two more poems to go!


4 stars
Smile, Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, Dan Hanna (Illustrator)

Ada's rating for this would be a 5+. We are reading it over and over and over again. At least it's got a nice rhythm and rhymes. Ada is learning about emotions these days so we have to act out the different ones shown by Pout Pout fish. All this vocabulary is paying off as the other day, not getting her own way, she told her mom, "Ada upset!"


5 stars
Little Black Crow by Chris Raschka

I am head over heels for this book. I love the poetry. I love the illustrations. I adore the questions.

4 stars
My New Mom & Me by Renata Galindo

This book made my eyes leak. It tells the story of a puppy who is adopted by a cat. (It doesn't use the word adoption though) Although there are struggles for both of them, in the end they are making it work.

5 stars
Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

I am totally infatuated with this series - as much if not more than I am of Mo Willems' Gerald and Piggie.

Everything you need to know is written on the cover flap.
Fox + Chick have many adventures together. Fox + Chick are funny. Fox + Chick don't always agree. Fox + Chick are friends.
Ok, you also need to know that the artwork is adorable.


5 stars
If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur by Amy Newbold & Greg Newbold (Illustrations)

Just Wow! There is so much in this book. It begins with a simple lesson on how to draw dinosaurs, and then morphs into how different artists would draw or paint dinosaurs. Paintings of these artists are redone to show dinosaurs in the scenes. These playful illustrations are delightful. Some of the artists are familiar to me, but I am mostly impressed with how many I knew nothing about. It's a fabulously diverse collection of visionaries. The back matter contains additional information about each of them.

My one niggling complaint was that the original artwork wasn't shown. Still I enjoyed searching the work of the new to me artists to find it, and in the process became enamoured with their work. Perhaps that was the Newbold's plan all along.


4 stars
Ash Boy: A Cinderfella Story by Lucy Coats & Mark Beech (Illustrator)

Gotta love this gender swapping retelling of the original story. It’s full of humour and wackiness. Still, there’s substance in this short, easy to read novel. How could there not be in a story about a young boy who loves libraries and wants to be a librarian? Mark Beech’s illustrations have a Quentin Blake feel that adds to the appeal.

P.S. You’re going to love his best friend!

5 stars
Girl in Pieces by by Kathleen Glasgow

This is an important book. Copies should be in every high school library. At first the book triggered memories of reading I Never Promised You A Rose Garden. This book is much more than that. Charlotte Davis cuts herself to feel better. After she attempts to kill herself, she ends up in an expensive rehabilitation facility. Because of lack of funds on the part of her grandmother, she is discharged before she is ready. She wants to remain clean and not fall into old ways, but ends up in a self destructive relationship. Her life deteriorates fast until she is finally rescued by new friends.

What becomes clear in this book is how damaged young people and adults carry unfathomable hurt inflicted upon them when they were children.

4 stars
Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6) by Louise Penny & Ralph Cosham (Narrator)

I was a bit confused at first because Gamache is recovering from some trauma that we don't understand or know about. There are three strands to this story, and once I figured that out, I was good. First, there is that traumatic event (you will have to read the book to find out what happened.) Second, there is a murder in the Anglo Literary and Historical Society where Gamache is doing research. Finally, Gamache suspects he made a mistake in a recent case and has one of his officers reinvestigate it. It's a lot going on!

All that aside, this is a book about being imperfect, about making mistakes and being vulnerable enough to acknowledge them. It's also about accepting these flaws and loving one another regardless of them.
Louise Penny is Canadian. 🍁


I am listening to Feel Free: Essays written and read by Zadie Smith. With my eyes I'm into Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson & Ellen Hagan. 


Property of the Rebel Librarian became available last week, but I had not set it for automatic checkout so when I went to download it, it was no longer available. Grrr. I plan to read On The Come Up by Angie Thomas next.


#MustReadIn2018 12/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 6/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 7/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 24/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 146/333

Poem A Day Challenge April 28, 2019

My eco anxiety is real and well founded. Yesterday we experienced record breaking blizzards at the end of April in two provinces who have elected rightwing climate change denying governments.

earth wept

in region
after region,
angry tears
of frustration

ordinary squalls
shift into

the new
4 and 5

explosions of
air and water
flood and flush
plants, timber,
animal inhabitants
and the land itself
into malevolent
dead seas

Poem A Day Challenge & Poetry Friday April 26, 2019

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink. Check out her page for links to more poets sharing work today.

In 1958, when I was five years old, my parents and other relatives set out on a great adventure north. I have been writing bits and pieces about that time for a while. Over the last couple of years as I write more, I interview remaining family members for more details and stories about their experience. To motivate myself to write, I plan to post bits and pieces of their saga here every Friday. They might not be in any kind of order. I'm just hoping to get some kind of reasonable drafts out there. I hope for feedback both on the construction of the poetry, and more details from family.

This is the fourth instalment. You can read the previous posts at the links below.




Early afternoon
they arrived at the settlement.
nestled in a grove of pines
along the river, 
an assortment of ragged

Not dignified enough
to be built of logs,
rough shiplap
nailed together
rose up to meet
a low peaked roof.

No insulation, 
no interior walls,
just two room shacks 
with wind whistling tunes
through cracked wood and
empty knot holes.

Filthy abodes, 
infested with
pack rats 
and other forest creatures.
Birds nested
in chimneys
and ceiling corners.

A family of skunks had
taken up in one of the cabins
and were left alone.

Dismayed but undaunted,
optimistic crews
of men, women and older children
set to work shovelling out
what would be their winter homes. 
My mother,
seven and a half months pregnant, 
scrubbed alongside them. 
A passel of children,
the oldest set to 
looking out for the youngest,
explored this new landscape.

Inside these hovels,
one small window,
covered with plastic,
welcomed sunlight into 
the kitchen eating area. 
An even smaller one,
high on the wall,
invited a sliver of light
into the sleeping space.

Out back,
a ramshackle outhouse
waited for you to do your business.
Water was hauled in buckets from the river. 
The wood cook stove in the front room
provided the only heat.

Come dark,
kerosene lamps
radiated golden
as the travellers bedded down,
camping out
that first night
in their new dwellings.

Links to my previous April poems can be found here.

Here is a link to blogs of other participants in the poem a day challenge.

Poem A Day Challenge April 25, 2019

My mother in law enjoyed dressing up in fancy clothes with matching baubles. After she died she left us with boxes of costume jewelry. Her quality pieces, and much of her better trinkets, went to her one granddaughter. Beaded necklaces in glorious colours and shapes filled numerous boxes. We gave most of them away to primary classrooms to use as they wanted. I kept one of them.


I wish you were here.
Ada and Everett
adore your beads:
putting them on,
taking them off,
parading around
adorned in colour.

I wish you could have met
these great grandchildren.
You would have revelled
in their antics
and love for each other.
I imagine your face, 
incandescent with joy.

I wish you could see
how your son
cavorts and carries
on with his wild beasts.
How proud you’d be
of the man he’s become.

Poem A Day Challenge April 24, 2019

Last summer as our part of the planet was burning, I began to write a collection of poems connected to climate change. I have been working on them off and on. This is one of them. 

And The People

And the people, 
egged on by their 
corporate masters 

dug more deeply,
extracted more thoroughly, 
spread more freely
the black death,

And called it good

And they integrated
it into their lives,
drove their cars, 
heated their houses, 
flew their planes,
extended their dietary horizons,

And called it good

And they transformed
the black death,
furnished their houses,
adorned their bodies,
filled supermarket shelves,
saturated landfills,

And called it good

The corporate masters 
created a new creed 
of the economy,
a modern mathematics 
for keeping score.
Earth was raped,
profits soared,

And they called it good

As the shadow
of the black death 
began to descend,
the corporate masters
plotted and schemed,
confounded truth,
proliferated lies,
gutted democracy,

And called it good

And the people, 
in thrall to their 
corporate masters,
the black death,

dug more deeply,
extracted more thoroughly, 
spread more freely
the black death,

Poem A Day Challenge April 23, 2019

Writing the story of my family's journey north, has set me to thinking about stories about my grandparents. Here is a picture of them with their first four children and my grandfather's mother. 

Grandma and Grandpa

Walter was a logger,
a large man
with large hands
who spent
time in camp
falling timber
with saws and axes.

Belle worked hard
alongside her parents
in the hotel they ran.

His best pal
was walking out with
her best friend.

Baseball was the passion of the day.

They came to know one another 
during outings to games.

Belle was ten years younger.
Thought he was handsome,
but she was to young for him.
Walter admired her looks 
and liked her spunk,
but he was to old for her.

When Belle was 16, 
her mother died.
Her father, 
always fond of drink,
sunk deep into despair,
and even deeper into the bottle.

Strange men visited the house,
consumed copious amounts of drink,
played poker and
roamed the premises.

Belle stuck knives 
in her bedroom door
to keep those men out,
and her virtue safe

On a trip home from camp,
Walter discovered what was going on.
Married her to get her out of there.

One year later,
Belle, not yet pregnant,
worried she was barren.

It’s a good thing she was wrong
or my mother,
the last of their seventeen children,
wouldn’t have been born,
and neither would I.

Poem A Day Challenge April 22, 2019

Today is Earth Day. 

Last Saturday, while Hoyoun, Ada and I were out walking, we admired a lot full of dandelions. It was eerily silent without the buzz of bees. For the rest of our walk, we searched for them in every clump of flowers. Eventually we found one. I have been trying to come up with a poem for dandelions and the missing bees ever since. I ended up with using a dodoitsu format you can read about here

Spring is here. Dandelions
In golden abundance, wait,
Wondering, just like we do,
What happened to bees?

#IMWAYR April 22, 2019

#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

Happy Earth Day!

I'm planning on posting a poem that is part of a collection of poems about climate change, but a lot can happen between now, as I write this Sunday evening, and when I wake up Monday morning. 

As a nod to Easter reading, I picked up a couple of books with egg related themes when I was at the library Saturday with my granddaughter and daughter-in-law. Otherwise, we didn't make a big deal about the season this year. I made dinner and dessert of pavlova with lemon curd. Our house has been chocolate free! 


15. Hold On
16. These Hands

17. Cherubs

18. drought

19. journey*

20. Politics

21. A Poem For Lost Glasses

Hurrah! The poem a day challenge is almost 3/4's over. 


4 stars
Little Cub by Olivier Dunrea

I am in the middle of an obsession with Olivier Dunrea's picture books. My grandchildren are a bit young for this one as it has more text, but I am sure that slightly older children will love this story about a little bear who is on his own. He doesn't like being alone and wishes he had someone to take care of him. Old Bear is also alone and doesn't like it. He too wishes he had someone to take care of him. I'm now waiting to read Old Bear and His Cub.

4 stars
Gus (Gossie and Friends) by Olivier Dunrea

I enjoyed this little board book more than my granddaughter did, but maybe it was just not the right time for her. Gus is a thoughtful loner spending his time watching the world around him. Then he discovers a clutch of eggs.

4 stars
The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett

I might be more dark and twisted than I thought, but I loved this book. All the other birds have laid eggs except Goose. Then he found an egg and fell in love with its beauty, certain it was the best egg ever. Long after all the other eggs had hatched, goose waited. It’s quite the surprise when the egg finally does crack and open. I was sad that the end papers were covered in my library copy. I had to work hard to find the final, hilarious surprise!

3 stars
This House, Once by Deborah Freedman

This is a kind of house that jack built, only it references where the different parts of the house came from. The illustrations are divine, but I was confused by what was going on at times.


5 stars
I Am NOT a Dinosaur! by Will Lach & Jonny Lambert (Illustrator)

This book introduces readers to numerous animals often mistaken for dinosaurs. I loved it for many reasons. First, the main part is written in poetry. Second, it's nonfiction. Third, Jonny Lambert's art is equal to Steve Jenkins work. Fourth, the back matter is full of additional information about each animal. There is a section titled, What is a Dinosaur? It also includes a timeline showing the epochs each animal existed.


5 stars
My Dog Is a Carrot by John Hegley

These poems are pure delight! They are also twisted and somewhat warped. I'm looking forward to sharing some of them with students this coming week. The section of poems on glasses inspired me to write my own poem this week! You can read it here.


5 stars
Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan & Kyle Riley (Narrator)

The writing in this novel is exquisite. It's the story of black Jazz musicians living in Europe at the time of the second world war. It's a powerful story about betrayal and redemption. The list of awards this book has won, or was nominated for, tell you how potent it is.
Esi Edugyan is Canadian.


5 stars
Love and Laughter in the Time of Chemotherapy by Manjusha Pawagi

This memoir deals with the time the author was diagnosed with leukaemia and the treatment regime she had to endure to get rid of it. It's loaded with gruesome details, truly wretched experiences and episodes of black humour. I knew that the treatment for cancer was harsh, but before reading this book, I really didn't understand what that looked and felt like.
It is beautifully written. I stopped and wrote out a number of passages.
Throughout this memoir, what struck me most was the strength of the relationships she began with, and those she forged during her horrific marathon. I leave you with this quote from the book.

“ Love is not a tree, because trees die. Love is a rock. And not stone that crumbles into dust. It’s the Canadian Shield itself, granite as old is the Earth, solid and unwavering beneath my weak and unsteady feet.”
Manjusha Pawagi is Canadian.


I am listening to Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny and reading, with my eyes, Girl in Pieces by by Kathleen Glasgow. The latter has been on my #MustRead list for the last couple of years. I am so glad to finally get to it.


The next audiobook will be Property of the Rebel Librarian (if it becomes available.) I'm eyeing Ash Boy: A CinderFella Story as a break from the intensity before starting Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson.


#MustReadIn2018 11/25 1 in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 6/12 

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 7/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 23/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 138/333