A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt, Guests-Trains + Bots with Miranda Paul and Son, Amani + Friend-Bots Tiffany and Aria

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon (Click to Enlarge)

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon (Click to Enlarge)

Hello, Great Readers of our series! Just In case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (a sixth-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and have had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on the second Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests.

I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

Before today’s episode, I wanted to announce that I am taking a blogging break this summer. But the collaborations on A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt will return after the break. If you’ve missed episodes or want to revisit some of them over the summer, remember all episodes are gathered HERE.

Now that that’s out of the way, enjoy today’s creative collaboration . . .

Trains + Bots with Miranda Paul and son, Amani + friend-bots Tiffany and Aria

From Miranda: A few years ago, I set off to write a train story—for my son, Amani, whose favorite book at the time was FREIGHT TRAIN by Donald Crews. I first came up with a poem about a mouse and a special delivery. But the poem was long, and quiet, and didn’t quite have enough action to be published as a picture book. So I asked my son what else I should write about. He said, “Robots!”

With that, I was on track to write a new poem called Trainbots. I had so much fun challenging myself to follow a chugga-chugga rhythm throughout, as well as write my lines in “robot speech” (I used many sentence fragments).

Here’s an excerpt of Trainbots that my son and his friend Aria used as inspiration for their recent art and craft project.

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With the help of my extremely talented friend Tiffany Hoffman, my son and Tiffany’s daughter Aria made art of the most scrumptious kind – FOODBOTS!

First, the kids let us grown-ups help with the cutting and prepping of the food. We used cheese and/or fruits, such as kiwi, apple, and cantaloupe for the body and head.IMG_3164

Other items such as veggie straws, fruit leather, candies, crackers, peppers, and carrots became the accessories for the bots.IMG_3191

Amani and Aria made sweet and savory varieties, and took artistic license when filling in the details with lots of colorful shapes. IMG_3169

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What talented creators! In the end, their foodbots looked—and tasted—delicious.IMG_3211

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We loved their art so much, Tiffany and I will be making a step-by-step activity guide to the Trainbots Food Art in the coming weeks, so watch for it at MirandaPaul.com.

And, I’m excited to say that the full poem/story, Trainbots, will be released as a picture book on June 7, 2016! It has been illustrated vibrantly by Shane McG, and is published by little bee books.

Trainbots_cover_final_lores

If you’re in Wisconsin, please join us for the Trainbots launch party on June 14, 2016 at the Kress Library in De Pere, WI where we will have the fixings to make Foodbots as well.

Thank you, Penny, for having all of us on your wonderful blog. This was a fun collaboration that I’ll remember for a long time to come. Tiffany, Aria, Amani and I had a blast! I’m pretty sure we’ll be friend-bots for a long time to come.IMG_3219_1

And my thanks to Miranda, Amani, Tiffany, and Aria for this delicious collaboration.


Miranda Paul is an award-winning children’s author who has worked as a freelance writer, teacher, volunteer zookeeper, and more. She began writing in elementary school, thanks to her wonderful teachers. She also enjoys science, trivia, and board games. Most of Miranda’s heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things—including her own kidbots who invent all kinds of gadgets with their super-handy dad. When she’s not traveling, you can find Miranda chugging around in Green Bay, Wisconsin, or online at mirandapaul.com.


Jone at Check it Out has the Poetry Friday Roundup today. today. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.poetry friday button

A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt, Guests-Margaret Simon and Nephew, Jack

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon (Click to Enlarge)

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon (Click to Enlarge)

Hello, Great Readers of our series! Just In case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (a sixth-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and have had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on the second Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests.

I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

Today it’s my pleasure to share a creative collaboration from . . .

Margaret Simon and Her Nephew, Jack

Jack Drumming
Margaret’s Poem

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Margaret and Jack at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans eating beignets.Jack beignets copy

One handsome drummer!

Jack with drums copy

Many thanks to Margaret and Jack for sharing their talents with us today.


Meet Jack: An early age, Margaret’s nephew Jack was destined to be a drummer.  He seemed to have an innate sense of rhythm even as a toddler.  He would tap along to music on his carseat or at the dinner table. He started assembling drum sets with pans and tupperware containers from the kitchen cabinet.  At age 6, after attending his sister’s middle school band concert, Jack declared that he wanted to play percussion in middle school.  Knowing that piano lessons would help him achieve this, his mom (Margaret’s sister) signed him up for piano lessons right away.  He excelled at piano but still felt a need to “get the beats out of his head.”   Jack received a small starter drum set which he played with passion.  At age 9, Jack upgraded his drum set and started formal drum lessons.  He has a strong ear,  impeccable rhythm, and loves to practice.  In the fall of 2016, he will enter middle school.  He has chosen percussion for his instrument in band.  No surprise there.

Meet Margaret: Margaret Simon is a poet, artist, teacher, mother.  She teaches gifted students in elementary grades in Iberia Parish, Louisiana.  Living on a bayou offers inspiration for poetry and peace.  Now that her daughters are adults, she spends more time writing than ever before.  She published her first middle grade novel, Blessen, in 2012.  She is currently pitching the sequel, Sunshine.  She published a book of poems with her father’s art in a small chapbook, Illuminate, in 2013.  Currently she is writing a verse novel.  She lives with her husband of over 30 years on the Bayou Teche and blogs regularly at Reflections on the Teche.


poetry friday button

And guess what? Margaret is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Reflections on the Teche. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.