Posts Tagged ‘verse novel’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Linda Baie at Teacher Dance.
I am reading poetry for Round One of Cybils. To see the nominations for 2021, click here.

This week I read the verse novel Starfish by Lisa Fipps. I’m amazed that this is her debut novel. She uses verse effectively; It’s not a prose story told with line breaks. I was drawn in by the story and by the character of Ellie, but I also enjoyed each verse as its own poem.

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

I sent this poem to my friend- Inkling writer Linda Mitchell. She is a librarian in a middle school in Virginia and I know she is the type of librarian who would create a safe place for kids like Ellie.

Below is my review on Goodreads:

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have never been a fat person until I read Starfish by Lisa Fipps. I became Ellie and felt every pain of the torture her family and classmates put her through. Reading this book, I was reminded of the bullying I endured as a skinny teenage girl with a flat chest. No bullying is pretty and it happens to lots of different people for lots of different reasons.

The way that Lisa Fipps can magically place you into the body and mind of Ellie through sparse, yet powerful verse is transformative. It made me as an adult examine the language that I use to talk to others. Like Wonder by R.J. Palacio, I want to place this book into the hands of all my students in middle grades. There is an important message here: “I deserve to be seen./ To be noticed./ To be heard./ To be treated like a human./ I starfish./ There’s plenty of room/ for/ each/ and/ every/ one of us/ in the world.” You matter. Ellie matters. I matter.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Boudreaux is Caroline's furry friend.

Boudreaux is Caroline’s furry friend.

One of the greatest gifts of Social Media is the connection my students and I can make to authors. Caroline Starr Rose blogs regularly about writing. Last year, I won a 30 minute Skype interview. My students asked her for a galley proof of her next novel. We received it in August. Vannisa, already a fan having read May B, read it immediately. I read it over the holiday break. What a wonderful story! Both Vannisa and I loved the characters of Alis and Kimi. We are amazed by Caroline’s way of making history come to life in her characters. After Colby Sharp of Nerdy Book Club and SharpRead, Vannisa wrote a 5,4,3,2,1 interview.

Blue Birds cover high res

Can you tell me a little bit about the story of Blue Birds?

Alis and her family have left London to help establish a colony on the island of Roanoke. She is the only girl and lonely for a friend. Kimi watches the newcomers warily. The English killed her father and sister, but she’s curious about the girl. Alis and Kimi form a forbidden friendship that threatens to change both their worlds.

How did you manage to find all the information for the book?

I read a whole lot. I also asked experts to look over my work to see if I’d gotten things right.

What is your advice to authors writing a historical fiction book as accurate as yours?

Read, read, read. Be true to the times. But beyond the facts, think about emotions and feelings. Through the ages, these are the things that unite us.

Are you currently thinking about writing a new book?

I’m working on one now about the Klondike gold rush.

What is your advice to student writers like myself?

You have something unique to say. Your work can only improve if you keep at it! Don’t be in a hurry to be finished or move on to something new.


This post is part of a week-long celebration in honor of the book Blue Birds.

Get this free quote with pre-order of Blue Birds

Get this free quote with pre-order of Blue Birds

Author Caroline Starr Rose is giving away a downloadable PDF of this beautiful Blue Birds quote (created by Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios) for anyone who pre-orders the book from January 12-19. Simply click through to order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, IndieBound, or Powell’s, then email a copy of your receipt to caroline@carolinestarrrose.com by Monday, January 19. PDFs will be sent out January 20.

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

On Friday Feedback with Gae Polisner, author of Pull of Gravity, the guest author was Caroline Star Rose who wrote May B. May B. is written in verse, like Love That Dog and Heartbeat by Sharon Creech, two of my favorite books. It was such a serendipitous stop. Like Caroline, I first wrote poetry. Only lately, the last 3 years with the work of Blessen, have I written fiction for young readers. So imagine my thrill to think about writing a young readers novel in verse.

I read all of Caroline’s advice about writing in verse. The two things that stood out most for me were 1) Each chapter or verse must be able to stand alone, and yet 2) Each verse must move the story along. I considered a book I had started ages ago and put aside. Now I think I have discovered the key that will open this old book to a new life–verse. So I tried it out. I posted one chapter that I had reworked into a verse. Before I even hung around long enough to get feedback, I was reworking more chapters until Friday night at 8 PM, I had 16 verses. I am hooked. The process has come alive for me.

I am posting the verse/chapter I posted on Friday Feedback. The main character, Jean, is writing letters to God because her best friend Simone has lymphoma. She is struggling with her own self-doubts as any 13-year-old would as well as the illness of her friend. Let me know what you think.

Dear God,
Simone’s hair,
soft and thick,
wavy blond curls I envy,
started falling today,
in handfuls she handed to me.
We looked in the mirror,
side by side.
My hair, short and bobbed,
looked shiny and healthy
next to her balding spots
appearing and frightening.
At the wig store, we had laughed
at the large lady drawling out
r-e-e-e-a-a-l hair,
The wigs are made with REAL hair!
I chose a wig, too,
I’ve always wanted long hair.
Simone handed me a lock.
It fell over my fingers.
I held it to my face,
so soft, so long,
so sad.

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