A Ferny Surprise for Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Last week, Catherine Johnson asked if I would like to link to her blog today to be included in a Fernilicious post. She asked several of us to write fern poems as a surprise for Amy Ludgwig VanDerwater! “Yes,” I said. “Without a doubt!” I love Amy’s website, The Poem Farm. She has incredible talent. Catherine always cooks up excitement, so I’m happy to join in. What will Catherine feature on her post? A yummy fiddlehead frittata recipe in honor of with Amy’s fern poem that Catherine posted Monday. You can read it HERE!

“Fiddlehead!” I wondered. “What in the world is a fiddlehead?” Google here I come! I spent the next hour reading about fiddleheads. They are the furled fronds of a young fern. You know. . .the little curl before the fern frond unfurls into feathery leaflets. Fiddleheads can be eaten. From what I read, the ostrich fern is a fern with edible fiddleheads.

Catherine issued her invitation on May 13th. You won’t believe what my friend (and member of my awesome critique group), Mona Pease, posted on Facebook on May 15th! Photos of fiddleheads! I emailed her immediately and told her about the coincidence. She emailed right back and offered for me to use her beautiful photos in this post. She had been out foraging. So, I guess I can say my friend, Mona, is a foraging fiddleheader 🙂 Now, here are Mona’s photos and my poems, followed by a question that remains unanswered by Wikipedia. . .or any other “pedia” for that matter!

Courtesy of Mona Pease


Fiddleheads unfurl to feathered fronds—

crowning the kingdom.

~Penny Klostermann all rights reserved

Courtesy of Mona Pease

Flightless Fern

Ostrich fern awakes.

Fiddleheads unfurl.

Stretching. Strutting.

Preening plumage.

Feathers fringe the forest floor.

~Penny Klostermann all rights reserved

And the question: How many fronds does a fiddleheader forage when a fiddleheader forages fronds?

Jama Rattigan is hosting Poetry Friday at Jama’s Alphabet Soup! Thanks, Jama!

Perfect Picture Book Friday-Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever–or Snack Time?

Whale shello there! I have some fangs to talk about. Yep! I want to share a few nuggets about a swimmingly spectacular book that will elicit oceans of excitement from any school of kid listeners or readers. I won’t bait you any further, as I’m shore you can’t wait to sea what I’m bubbling about. Yes…it’s

nugget and fangNugget & Fang

Written by Tammi Sauer

Illustrated by Michael Slack

Harcourt Children’s Books 2013

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Friendship, Fish, Oceans

Synopsis: (from Goodreads) In the deep ocean, tiny Nugget and big, toothy Fang get along swimmingly—until Nugget’s first day of minnow school. There Nugget learns that minnows are supposed to be afraid of sharks! To regain Nugget’s trust, Fang takes desperate (and hilarious) measures. But it’s not until his big sharp teeth save the entire school that minnows learn this shark is no foe. Fantastically stylized artwork adds even more humor to this undersea story of unlikely friendship.

Opening: In the deep, deep ocean lived two best friends.
Nugget and Fang.
They did everything together.
They swam over.
They swam under.
They swam all around.
Life was close to perfect . . .
until it was time for Nugget to go to school.

Resources: HERE is a downloadable reading guide that includes discussion questions for read aloud, and teaching ideas for reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.

Why I Like This Book: Last week, I read this book to a class of kindergartners.  They were hooked on every word and turn page. They pointed out their favorite parts of the illustrations. They laughed at the clever word play and at Fang’s attempts to convince Nugget that a shark and a minnow really could be friends. When I read the ending and closed the book, I could tell that they would’ve happily listened to it again. That pretty much sums up why I like this book! I am just like the kindergartners. Well, there is one difference…they headed off to physical education class with toothy grins…and me? Well, I let my mind float away with a minnow and a shark as I read Nugget and Fang one more time 🙂

Susanna Leonard Hill features Perfect Picture Book Friday on her blog. This is a wonderful resource if you are wondering what books to give as gifts, needing material for a lesson, or just looking for a great book to read. Here is a list of books by category. Each book listed has a link to a review, information about that book, and resources for activities. There is also an alphabetical list.

Perfect Picture Book Friday-Little Red Hot

I’m a Texas gal, and since I love me some hot sauce and jalapenos, you can imagine how fired up I got when I found heard about…

Little-Red-Hot_Little Red Hot

Written by Eric A. Kimmel

Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

Two Lions (Amazon Children’s Publishing) 2013

Ages 4-8

Themes: Fractured Fairy Tales

Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Little Red Hot loves red hot chili peppers. She eats them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When her grandmother catches a cold, Little Red makes her a hot pepper pie that will knock those cold germs right out of her. But before Little Red shares her pie with Grandma, she meets Señor Lobo and the pie comes in very handy when the wily wolf tries to trick her into thinking he’s her grandmother.

Opening: Once upon a time there was a little biddy Texas gal called Little Red Hot. Folks called her that because she loved to eat red hot chili peppers. She ate peppers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She ate pepper ice cream for dessert. She had hot pepper cake for her birthday with jalapeños on top instead of candles. Folks used to say that Little Red Hot could eat fire out of a stove. Little Red Hot would answer, “No, I wouldn’t do that. Fire ain’t hot enough.”

Resources: Read, Write, Think has this great tool for writing fractured fairy tales, HERE. Challenge children to write a fractured fairy tale that uses a food item and include food puns for humor. HERE is a lesson plan from Education World for writing fractured fairy tales.

Why I Like This Book: Fractured fairy tales have always been a favorite of mine. I love that they are based on stories that have been told for generations. Since most children are already familiar with the story line of the tale, I think they tend to relax into the retelling which gives them a chance to enjoy the humor, language, and wordplay even more. As far as fractured fairy tales go, Little Red Hot ranks way up there in my opinion. The story telling is superb and I was immediately drawn to Little Red Hot’s spunkiness. In fact, she has so much spunk that I was confident that Señor Lobo would get his comeuppance, and wondered why he didn’t take one look at that little red cowboy and run howling for the hills. Well, in the end, there is some howling involved, and not just from Señor Lobo. I was howling with laughter!!! So saddle up, ride on down to the library, and bring this delightful book home with you. I’ll bet you a four alarm chili pepper that it will become on of your faves!

Susanna Leonard Hill features Perfect Picture Book Friday on her blog. This is a wonderful resource if you are wondering what books to give as gifts, needing material for a lesson, or just looking for a great book to read. Here is a list of books by category. Each book listed has a link to a review, information about that book, and resources for activities. There is also an alphabetical list.

Can’t Sleep Without Sheep-E-book!!!

Did you know that Can’t Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill is now available in E-book???
Yes! It’s true!
Only $4.99!
In all formats!
Available HERE!

Want the inside scoop? Watch this short video and then go download your copy today!
Warning!!! Singing is involved…and I’m not the quiet sort! Not responsible for damage to hearing or for howling dogs, sheep, hippos, or other creatures within a ten mile radius (and possibly outside of that radius).

This is a contest! With great prizes! Do you think I’d just go about singing off key if prizes weren’t involved? For more information, and to view the other entries, go HERE! Just so you know…you don’t have to sing or write a jingle to get a prize. If you just share about the new Can’t Sleep Without Sheep E-book, you can be entered to win a prize, too. Oh! And there is a contest for the kiddos, also. Again, go HERE to learn about all the ways you can enter and win!!! Has there ever been a better contest…or a better reason to enter and spread the word??? I don’t think so!! Now go!

Poetry Resources For Teachers

I did many things to celebrate National Poetry Month. But my favorite thing to come out of April is a page I created on my blog with resources for teaching poetry. I’m not the first one to have a poetry resource page. There are many great ones on the Internet. My focus was to gather sites that I think will be very useful in the classroom. I taught school for 26 years. I did not teach poetry because I taught Physical Education and Computer. I know poetry is a part of every subject. In Physical Education, we learned jump rope rhymes and worked on rhythm. In Computer, we keyed in and formatted poetry in a word processing program. But I didn’t get to really delve into the workings of poetry. After 26 years, I know about teaching. I, also, know how busy teachers are and how teaching poetry intimidates some of them. I hope the resources I have gathered will show them ways to bring poetry to their classrooms in a way that will get students excited, and in a way that both students and teachers will enjoy. You can click on Poetry Resources right at the top of this page, or click HERE.

Liz Steinglass is hosting Poetry Friday this week at her place.

Perfect Picture Book Friday-Ollie and Claire

ollie and claireOllie and Claire

Written by Tiffany Strelitz Haber

Illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Philomel 2013

Ages 3-7

Themes: Friendship

Synopsis: (From publisher’s website) Ollie and Claire are as tight as two friends can be. Every day they picnic together, every day they do yoga together, and every evening they eat dinner together. But when Claire longs to break free from this routine and dreams of traveling the world, she worries that Ollie would never join her. So she takes matters into her own hands and finds a mysterious travel partner when she sees a sign posted on a tree. Who could it be? And how can she ever tell Ollie?

Ollie and Claire were a tightly knit pair,
like hot buttered biscuits and jam.
They frolicked by day at the park and the bay,
where they yodeled and yoga’d and swam.

And here is the trailer:

Resources: I didn’t find any on the Internet…probably because Ollie and Clare has just been released. So here are few I came up with.
1) Have students write an acrostic poem, using the letters in their name about a trip. They can write about things to do or places to go.
2) Have students design their own luggage from a shoe box or other small box. Have classmates drop in notes telling that student why they would miss them if they left for an around-the-world trip.
3) Use the luggage from #2 to work with rhyming words. Have the student put a word/s on their “luggage tag”. Have other students drop in words that rhyme with the luggage tag as they think of them. When they get 10 (or whatever number decided  upon), the student will write a poem with the words from inside their luggage.
4) Here is a longer project for older students. Have students plan the round-the-world itinerary for Ollie and Claire. As a whole, have the class decide the best way to travel from place to place-airplane, boat, train, bus, etc. For math, add up the miles they will travel and estimate expenses. Have enough stops so that each student have a location to research. Have them map it. Have them list three things to do while on their stop. Have them find a recipe for food from their location and/or possibly make and bring that food to school for the class to taste. Make a round-the-world recipe book.

Why I Like This Book: Oh the rhyme! Did I mention the rhyme? Well, there is the rhyme! Seriously, Tiffany Strelitz Haber is super skilled at rhyming. She kills it! Spot on meter! Fun wordplay! But what’s great rhyme without a story, right? Never fear…the story’s here! You will be engaged. You will be torn…See below quotes from my mind as I read the book:
“Claire deserves adventure.”
“But, how can she leave Ollie?”
“Claire will be back some day.”
“But how can she leave Ollie.”
And then, you’ll read the ending and your heart will melt.
Matthew Corell’s illustrations are adorable. I’m sure you saw that in the trailer. They just add to the perfection of the book!
Yes, this tale of friendship must be shared with kids everywhere.