Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Children love writing acrostic poems. You know, the poems where you write a word vertically and come up with a word or phrase that starts with each of the letters in the vertical word...

© Jill Corcoran 2009

Acrostics are wonderful 'gift poems' for Mother's Day, Father's Day, School Spirit Day, etc. They can simply describe the subject of the poem, or they can do much, much more: evoke emotion, tell a story, be placed at the beginning of a report to create interest and invite us to keep reading, etc.

When I teach acrostics in the classroom, I start by showing the students a couple of poems that I have written...

Here's one I wrote when I was trying to express what poetry means to me:

© Jill Corcoran 2009

And here is one about my 140 lb. pup:

Tail-wagging, tongue-lick'n, 140 pounds
Of labrador energy
Begs for my attention 24/7. Thank
You Southern California Lab Rescue!
© Jill Corcoran 2009

First things first, I explain that you don't just pull out a dictionary and look for words that start with the letter you are working with, but you must think about your subject and write down characteristics, special memories, and/or how the subject makes you feel, without thought to what letter their ideas start with.

Then I work with the students to write a group acrostic on the white board or poster board using their teacher's last name as the subject-- kids love this! The students call out characteristics and memories they have about their teacher.
  • fun
  • says Good Morning to each one of us as we walk in the room
  • brown eyes
  • black hair
  • loves cats, earth science and running
  • loves stickers
  • encouraging
  • upbeat
  • Witch for Halloween
  • scared of spiders but loves snakes
  • stays in from reccess to help us with our homework
  • hums when she writes notes to herself, and doesn't know she is humming
Once we have a list on the board we work together to write their teacher's acrostic.

Next, I either direct their subject (Mother's Day, Father's Day, School Name, Report Topic) or let them go wild with choosing a subject of their liking.

OK, be brave my readers...anyone want to post their name in an acrostic?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I am officially haiku-ofied. I have been writing my haiku book everyday for a month, and loving it. I am thinking, speaking and definitely writing in 17-syllable count spurts. (My husband and kids seem to truly appreciate my new love for brevity.)

OK, back to writing.....

BTW, want to learn more about Haiku? Check out my Poetry in the Classroom/Haiku post.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


 Yesterday I sent in my manuscript for the SCBWI Picture Book Retreat to be held at the Santa Barbara Mission on January 16-18, put on by the fabulous Alexis O'Neill. Click on this link for the official description from the SCBWISOCAL site, including the 4 editors' likes and dislikes. 

Here's the short version:

Shape your picture book work-in-progress in small, editor-led groups with Lisa Graff, Associate Editor, Farrar, Straus & Giroux; Kathy Landwher, Vice President and Associate Publisher, Peachtree Publishers; Marcia Leonard, Editor, Clarion Books; and Ruta Rimas, Assistant Editor, Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins. Dummy-making roundtable. Hands-on poetry workshop, “Voices & Choices,” with poet Joan Bransfield Graham. 

Last year I went to this retreat and was blessed to have Kristin Daly (formerly with HarperCollins and now with Balzer & Bray) as my group leader. She was fantastic.  I was also able to spend time with and read first pages to the other editors at the retreat--Alexandra Cooper (Simon and Schuster) and Stacy Cantor (Walker). I learned so much from all three of them.

So, who's coming with me?!?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


This morning I went to the Children's Literature Council of Southern California's 2008 Fall Gala at the beautiful Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California to celebrate my friend and critique partner, Stephanie Hemphill. Once again, she won the Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Poetry. This year she won it for her amazing book, YOUR OWN, SYLVIA:A VERSE PORTRAIT OF SYLVIA PLATH. (She also won the award last year for her book, THINGS LEFT UNSAID.) It was a beautiful event with a delicious breakfast followed by speeches from Keynote Speaker Louis Sachar (HOLES, WAYSIDE SCHOOL BOOKS, etc.), Stephanie Hemphill (of course!), James St. James (FREAK SHOW," Peggy Miller Award for Young Adult Literature "), Gretchen Woelfle (JEANETTE RANKIN:POLITICAL PIONEER, "Inspiring Work of Nonfiction"), and Rahul Bhushan (TAJ MAJAL, "Excellence in Illustration ", written by two of my UCLA Extension teachers, Caroline Arnold and Madeleine Comora ). Brian Selznick (THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET) was also honored for "Groundbreaking Work of Fiction", however he unfortunately was unable to attend this morning.

Here's Lisa Yee's blogging on the event, pictures and all.

This has been a great year for Stephanie. Earlier this year, her YOUR OWN SYLVIA won a 2008 Michael L. Printz Honor Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. On June 30th , Claudia and I celebrated with Stephanie at the Michael L. Printz Program and Reception. It was a wonderful night with speeches from winner, Geraldine McCaughrean for her novel The White Darkness and honor book authors Judith Clarke for One Whole and Perfect Day; Stephanie Hemphill for Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath; A.M. Jenkins for Repossessed; and Elizabeth Knox for The Dreamquake: Book Two of the Dreamhunter Duet. You can hear all of the winners' speeches by clicking on this link.

Claudia and I were lucky enough to get to the American Library Association’s (ALA) 2008 Annual Conference early that night and sat in on The 5th Annual ALSC POETRY BLAST featuring:
Joan Bransfield Graham: Splish Splash; Flicker Flash
Jane Medina: My Name is Jorge; The Dream on Blanca’s Wall
Charles R. Smith, Jr.: Twelve Rounds to Glory
Linda Sue Park: Tap Dancing on the Roof
Monica Gunning: America, My New Home; Not a Copper Penny in Me House
Francisco X. Alarcón: Animal Poems of the Iguazú / Animalario del Iguazú; Poems to Dream Together / Poemas para soñar juntos; From the Other Side of Night / Del otro lado de la noche
Ann Whitford Paul: Word Builder; All by Herself
Ruth Forman: Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon
Margarita Engle: The Poet Slave of Cuba; The Surrender Tree
Julie Larios: Yellow Elephant; Imaginary Menagerie
Nikki Grimes: Oh, Brother!; When Gorilla Goes Walking; Tai Chi Morning; First Kiss
J. Patrick Lewis: The World’s Greatest: Poems; The Brothers’ War: Civil War Voices in Verse
Marilyn Singer: Shoe Bop!; First Food Fight This Fall

Congrats Steph! You deserve it!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


FROM LOOKYBOOK: Picture books are for looking at. Lookybook allows you to look at picture books in their entirety—from cover to cover, at your own pace. We know that nothing will replace the magic of reading a book with your child at bedtime, but we aim to replace the overwhelming and frustrating process of finding the right books for parents and their kids.

Here is the link to their site: lookybook
Go to the SEARCH box on the top left of your screen, search by author or illustrator name, by subject or by genre. Click on your chosen book and wa-la!

What do you think about this concept?


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