On Mondays I visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.
I've been in love with Irene Latham's books for a long time. Irene is one of the first poets to reach out to me in kindness through our blogging. I was both surprised and flattered. If you don't know her work for both adults and children, look here at her website, Live Your Poem. She has published poetry collections for adults and for children, plus middle grade novels. Last year I loved and reviewed Dear Wandering Wildebeest and Other Poems from the Watering Hole, a beautiful look at a day at a watering hole on the African grasslands.
Today I want to celebrate a book that celebrates its birthday tomorrow, a book that you will love for its ability to entertain a wide range of ages, including adults. It is Irene's second book published this year (more about the first later), and it is titled Fresh Delicious: Poems From The Farmer's Market, illustrated by Mique Moriuchi's amazing and playful collage illustrations.
The twenty-one poems in this latest book by Irene mirror the title itself; they are "fresh" and "delicious". I become very excited when spring arrives and I know that our farmers' markets will soon open. I assume you get excited too, but when you go, did you know you might meet "a fleet of green submarines" (cucumbers), " a "mountain of mice-sized swords" (okra) or "rows upon rows/of tiny noses" (corn on the cob)? The metaphors delight, and I imagine that Irene's words will inspire you to create your own comparisons.
In the poem Wild honey, Irene writes that it makes "our tongues/buzz/with pleasure." And, corn grows to the side on stalks so tall, as if it's "listening/to the/sun". Each poem opens the senses to new ideas about the fruits and vegetables found at farmers' markets. Not only mouth-watering to imagine through the words, the illustrations show off the food and the animals at the market in the happiest of ways. There is also a surprise at the back. After the delightful stroll through the market, Irene shares recipes that take advantage of market fare, just right for kids to help with the cooking.
I'm excited to share Irene's answers to the questions I posed. Knowing that many teachers read my posts, I thought it would be great to ask Irene about her school visits. How will she present this book as a text to use when writing poetry for children?
Here is what she shared with me:
When you visit a class of young students to share the book, what will you do to spark their poetry by using this book?
Because food is a part of everyone's every day life, this book offers a wonderful doorway to the world of poetry. Fresh food IS poetry, and farmers are also poets – instead of pencil and paper, they use hoes and dirt. Farming is an act of love. And isn't the sun's love and the rain's love and the soil's love the very things that transform a tiny seed to a shoot to a plant that blooms and bears fruit?
More specifically I will share with students how these poems have been called “odes” because they are love songs that celebrate each fruit and vegetable. It's a way to show how thankful I am for each one, and students can do this, too! Choose a fruit or vegetable and think about all the ways you are thankful for that fruit or vegetable, all the ways you love it – from seeing it to touching it to smelling it to tasting it to hearing it to that feeling when your tummy is full. Use all your senses.
Also, I will share one of my primary goals when I was writing these poems: to bring action to these still objects. Most often fruits and vegetables are portrayed in art as Still Life, so one way to be “fresh” when writing a poem about a still object is to give it movement, action. So that became a focal point for me: how can I use images and words that portray these fruits and vegetables in action?
Finally, I will share a technique that has served me well in many poetry projects, including this one. It involves looking at objects very closely, and from different angles and vantage points – sometimes alone, up close. Sometimes far away, or with a group. I use The Private Eye http://www.the-private-eye.com/index.html method of inquiry and ask myself, What does it look like? What else? What else? I keep asking myself this until I have a whole list of images. They I go back through the list to find the freshest, most delicious ones. The poem “Basil” emerged in just this way – it's just 7 words plucked from a list of observations.
And do you have other experiences to suggest doing with the students that will enhance their writing and enjoyment of the poems?
I will be sharing my thoughts on this at schools and conferences like Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival Hattiesburg, MS) https://www.usm.edu/childrens-book-festival and Texas Library Association http://www.txla.org/annual-conference in the next couple of months.
7 Fresh Delicious Ways to Share This Book & Encourage Kids to Feast on Poetry:
Invite a farmer to come and share about the farming life and farmers' markets.
Take a trip to the Farmers' Market and complete a FRESH DELICIOUS scavenger hunt! (Available on my website.) Here is the link!
Kids Recipe Swap – As kids to bring in favorite fresh, delicious recipes and samples to share. (You can also share the recipes from this book!)
Food, Art, Play! - Pair with HOW ARE YOU PEELING? By Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers and use cut bell peppers and other fruits and veggies to dip in paint and create stamp-art.
The Art of Food – Show images of artwork that was inspired by food: https://www.pinterest.com/irenelatham/art-works-featuring-fresh-delicious-food/ Also, please follow along during April, as I continue my ArtSpeak! Project, this year using artworks on the subject of Plant. Grow. Eat. http://www.irenelatham.blogspot.com/p/artspeak.html
Food Science – Create a tongue taster map and use FRESH DELICIOUS fruits/veggies as samples.
G I Y (Grow It Yourself) Kids – Use as part of a gardening series to plant seeds for fruits and veggies.
Thank you, Linda, for helping me to celebrate this book! Hope you have a fresh delicious day! xo
To celebrate Irene's poetry, I'm offering a giveaway of still another wonderful book by her that was published just a few weeks ago. This too is a non-fiction poetry picture book, filled with beautiful poems from another place in the world. Like Fresh Delicious, Irene offers a "fresh" look at one of the coldest places on earth: When The Sun Shines On Antarctica and Other Poems about The Frozen Continent. I'm willing to give away one of the copies of this book.
Enter Below! And leave a comment sharing your favorite "fresh" food found at your farmer's market.