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Posts Tagged ‘David Harrison’

A few months ago in the midst of holiday time, I was reading poetry books for the round one judging for CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards). Our committee selected 7 finalists. You can see them here.

This post is about the one that got away. One of my favorite poetry collections was left off the short list: The Dirt Book by David L. Harrison.

Underneath our feet is a whole world. Looking at interesting underground nature is the topic of David L. Harrison’s The Dirt Book. The format of the physical book is unique. Rather than landscape orientation, it is oriented as portrait. The illustrations by Kate Crosgrove dance along the pages. 

As a grandmother of toddler boys, the first page grabs their interest with the words “This Book is about Dirt.” Each poem features facts as well as lyrical language. “Scraggly twisted clusters/ creep/ thirstily,/ dig deep,/ branch out/ in crooked slants,/ mine water/ for their plants.” From At the Roots of Things.

As a teacher of elementary students, I will use this book to inspire students to explore the natural world, ask questions about the animals living there, and write their own language-rich poems. 

The Dirt Book is more than dirt; It offers a loving look at the world we live in and invites us to be present in it. The final poem, And Now We Know, begins with “Beneath our feet, beyond our sight,/ below the roots where green grass grows,/ there’s more to dirt than we’d suppose.” Take your students, your children, grandchildren, and yourself on a trip below the earth and find an intriguing world waiting. 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

In this pandemic atmosphere, the mask has become a topic. I’ve been blessed with gifts of masks, so I’m building up a collection. There is now a place in my laundry room where I hang masks, so I can quickly grab one on the way out. On Instagram a friend posted a photo of herself wearing a stylish animal print mask, and this poem came to me. David Harrison suggested “mask” as the word on the month on his blog.

My mask collection
grows like hats on a hatrack or
scarves in my closet;
I can select one to match my mood:
yellow dotted daisy on teal blue,
blue sky with maps of the world,
or plain white cotton. A multitude
of coverings for Covid season.


I will put one on
to express my love
for you 
and you
with sunflowers
on a background of green—
a quilt for a smile. 

Margaret Simon, draft

The invitation to write #PoemsofPresence is still open. Post on Twitter and/or in this padlet.

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What a pleasure to take part in the After Dark blog tour. After Dark is a picture book of amazing illustrations by Stephanie Laberis and intriguing poems by David Harrison. Publication date is tomorrow, Feb. 25th. Read more about David and his many books here.

David L. Harrison

David’s poems explore the lives of nocturnal animals. In the end pages you can find more information about each animal. With my students, I started with the end pages. I asked them to select two animals they were interested in. We read the facts and then the poem. “Look for ways the poet wove the facts in with poetic language.” We noticed elements like rhyming, slant rhyme, alliteration, repetition, and others.

This reading and talking piqued our interest in finding out more. I gave students the option to select the same animal or another one to research using Wonderopolis.

Breighlynn wanted to learn more about songbirds. Earlier in the week we had discussed allusion and at the beginning of the month, we read about Maya Angelou. I love seeing all of these lessons come together in Breighlynn’s poem.

The song of a songbird
the morning alarm.
Their vibrant colors
just like a rainbow.
The smallest of birds
 make the loudest of songs.
Now,
I know why the caged bird sings.

Breighlynn, 4th grade

After reading this David Harrison poem about the gray wolf, A.J. wrote a poem contrasting wolves to dogs.

Wolves,
never tamed,
they can’t be blamed.

Dogs,
youngly trained,
though restrained.

Wolves,
running free,
free as can be.

Dogs,
fun won’t end,
with man’s best friend.

A. J. , 6th grade

One of my students asked what was the word for animals who are awake during the day. On a Wonderopolis page, we discovered the word diurnal. In the poem, No Fooling (about the raccoon), David uses assonance, creating slant rhyme. I decided to try out this element in my own poem: Where do Birds Go at Night?

Where Do Birds Go at Night?

At first light, I hear their chatter
flitting about our courtyard feeder.

But once the air of dawn is gone,
I wonder where the birds have flown.

Most birds are diurnal
living their life all day,
but where do they go
once the sun goes down?
Only nocturnal birds hang around.

Some birds find a hole big enough to squeeze in.
Others, like the heron, want some mud to wade in.
Flocks of blackbirds roost in bunches
finding their nighttime safety in numbers.

Every time you go to sleep,
wonder where the birds may be.

Margaret Simon, draft 2020

This post is part of a blog tour. The publisher has offered a free book for comments on this post. I will draw at random from commenters and post the winner’s name on Friday, Feb. 28th on my Poetry Friday post. Please leave a comment by Thursday, Feb. 27th. Winner must live in the continental U.S.

Check out other posts to hear more about this book.

Writing and Illustrating
Beyond Literacy Link
Read, Learn, and be Happy
Poetry for Children
Teacher Dance
Michelle Kogan
Salt City Verse

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