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Poetry Friday: "Heaven for Stanley"

IMG_2524 Several days of rain have kept us indoors this week, but have greatly encouraged the new container gardens of herbs and tomatoes that the kiddo and I planted. With that in mind, I chose Mark Doty's poem "Heaven for Stanley" for Poetry Friday. It's a short poem about so many things, including gardens—and the friendship between two poets of different generations. 

The "Stanley" in the poem is Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006). One day I'd like to read Kunitz's book The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Gardenwhich he wrote with Genine Lentine.

Doty's "Heaven for Stanley" begins with the lines "For his birthday, I gave Stanley a hyacinth bean,/an annual, so he wouldn't have to wait for the flowers." You can read the entire poem at Poets.Org (the Academy of American Poets). Then I hope you'll come back and chat because I'm not quite sure what the last lines mean. What do you think? CORRECTION: The Poets.Org poem contains a typo. No wonder I didn't get it! Use this version at the Guardian, instead. Scroll down on the page.

To see what poetic thoughts others are mulling over, check the Poetry Friday roundup at Irene Latham's blog, Live. Love. Explore! You might also want to stroll through the list Top 100 Poetry Blogs, where you'll see some new and some familiar names.

What We're Up To, Reading-Wise

Yesterday we came home from the library with a backpack full of books from the J (children's) science section; subjects include lasers, leprosy, nuclear energy, and the planet Venus. These will be added to the pile in Junior's room of titles on battleships, amoebas, snake care, and chemistry. Sure, we still read books together like Cornelia Funke's Ghosthunters series, but clearly, now that he's "almost ten," the kiddo has more and more of his own interests to pursue. 

While I'm very glad that our library offers books on amoebas and leprosy, I don't plan on reviewing them here. "The book features many enlarged photographs of the one-celled organisms." Nah. That's his thing, not mine. (Not that I mind amoebas, of course.) 

As Junior has been exploring the world of nonfiction, I've been reading some classic novels (for grown-ups). I was a history, not literature, major in college, and have lots of catch-up to do in this area. Among the ones I've read so far are Henry James' Washington Square, Daisy Miller, and The Portrait of a Lady. On my to-read list I've put Tolstoy's War and Peace and George Eliot's Middlemarch. Heaven knows when I'll get to these two blockbusters; I bought the copy of Portrait of a Lady for ten years before I read it. Right now I'm happily chugging along with something shorter, Nabokov's Real Life of Sebastian Knight.

N.T., my husband and a big fan of contemporary fiction, introduced me to one of my favorite books of this year: The Housekeeper and the Professor. The write-up at the blog Feminist Review captures Yoko Ogawa's "careful meditation on memory and communication" well. Lisa Bower writes, 

The premise of the novel is seemingly simple: the plot revolves around the relationship between a housekeeper and a once-famous mathematician, the latter of whom was in a car accident that left him brain damaged. This man's short term memory is shot; it lasts for only eighty minutes. Armed with only decades-old memories and his formulas and theories, the novel shows that despite such loss, affection and love are still possible. Math becomes the language that penetrates this man's mind and allows him to make sense of a world that has changed without him knowing it. 

Translated from the Japanese, it's a really lovely book that also features the housekeeper's ten-year-old son, a baseball lover, who also finds a way to meet the professor where he is. I look forward to reading more of Ogawa's work, like The Diving Pool. N.T. also highly recommends The Secret Scripture, by Sebastian Barry.

Book Giveaway: "Chicken Butt!"

Chickenbuttcov How fitting. It's just plain old serendipity when Chicken Spaghetti has the opportunity to offer one lucky reader a Chicken Butt! of his or her own.

It's a book—a funny new picture book—written by Erica S. Perl and illustrated by Henry Cole. The trade journal Kirkus calls it "an unhinged piece of slap-happy rhyming." 

I also got a kick out of the school librarian at 100 Scope Notes who asks, "How do you feel about a raucous storytime? Are you pro or con? Cause that’s what you’re going to have if you pull this one out during read-aloud."

Oh, yeah.

I'm so happy that the publication and blog tour coincided with Chicken Spaghetti's fourth anniversary. 

To enter the giveaway contest, leave your name in the comments, and later this afternoon (around 5 p.m.) I will enlist the help of my two backyard hens in choosing a winner.

Meanwhile, catch up with more information on the book at these blogs:

5/4 = Natasha Maw's MAW BOOKS BLOG

5/5 = Tina Nichols Coury's 

5/6 = Pam Couglan's 

5/7 = Kimberly Willis Holt's 

5/8 = Terry Golson's 

5/11 = Elizabeth Bird's 
FUSE # 8

5/12 = Shelly Burns' 

and tomorrow at

5/14 = Andrea Beatty, Julia Durango and Carolyn Crimi's 


We have a winner: Sherry K.! Sherry, send me an email (c_spaghettiATyahooDOTcom) with your address. Thanks for playing along, everyone.

Chicken Spaghetti's Fourth Anniversary

Yep, that's right. It's been four fine years of blogging about my adventures with children's books and reading—and chickens. 

To celebrate the occasion and the new season, I've chosen a passage from Arnold Lobel's classic Frog and Toad Are Friends.

"Toad, Toad, wake up. It is May now."

"What?" said Toad.

"Can it be May so soon?"

"Yes, said Frog.

"Look at your calendar."

Toad looked at the calendar.

The May page was on top.

Why, it is May!" said Toad

as he climbed out of bed.

Then he and Frog 

ran outside

to see how the world

was looking in the spring.

Happy May, and happy reading, as always. Stay tuned tomorrow for a book giveaway.

Children's Book Week

Children's Book Week starts today, May 11th, and runs through Sunday, May 17th.  It's sponsored by the Children's Book Council, a consortium of publishers. The event's web site says, 

Since 1919, Children's Book Week has been celebrated nationally in schools, libraries, bookstores, clubs, private homes-any place where there are children and books. Educators, librarians, booksellers, and families have celebrated children's books and the love of reading with storytelling, parties, author and illustrator appearances, and other book related events.

Also associated with Children's Book Week are the Children's Choice Book Awards; finalists can be found at the web site. (Note that the voting is now closed.) The winners will be announced tomorrow evening. 

Happy reading!

Children's Book Award News, continued

1. The shortlist for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards (Canada) was announced.  

2. Paper Towns, by John Green, won an Edgar award for best young adult mystery, while The Postcard, by Tony Abbott, took the "best juvenile" category. Sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America, the prizes honored a number of books for adults, too. 

3. The new winners of Jane Addams Children's Book Awards—which go to books that "effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence"—can be found at the website of the Jane Addams Peace Association. 

4. A new honor in the UK, the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award, went to Cristy Burne for Takeshita Demons.  Several other children's books were also recognized.

Nonfiction Monday, 5.04.09 Monday takes place right here today. Many of the children's book blogs post about nonfiction for kids on Mondays, so leave a link in the comments if you're participating. I will update throughout the day.

Nonfiction.monday My contribution is an older post about Bianca Lavies' Gathering of Garter Snakes; you'll likely find the photo-filled picture book in the public or school library. Lavies was once a National Geographic photographer, and her snake pics are excellent. She writes about a place in Manitoba where thousands and thousands of garter snakes spend the winter and all exit the pit at about the same time in the spring. Read the post here.

Lots of intriguing nonfiction recommendations await readers today:

1. A Day in the Salt Marsh, at In Need of Chocolate

2. Mermaid Queen, at  A Fuse # 8 Production

3. In the Trees, Honeybees, at Wild About Nature

4. On the Texas Trail of Cabeza de Vaca, at Lori Calabrese Writes!

5. The Dirt on Dirt, at SimplyScience Blog

6. Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, at The Miss Rumphius Effect

7. Mermaid Queen and The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau, at Kelly Fineman's Writing and Ruminating

8. Pavlov's Elephant, at Check It Out

9. Jackson and Bud's Bumpy Ride: America's First Cross-Country Automobile Trip, at A Patchwork of Books

10. Dino Dung, at Book Scoops

11. Beatrix Potter, at Wrapped in Foil

12. Slither and Crawl, at Kids Lit

13. Life-Size Zoo, at Picture Book of the Day

14. A Taste of Asia, at Kid Lit Kit

15. King George: What Was His Problem?, at Biblio File