Thursday, February 15, 2018

Cybils Poetry Award 2017!

Poetry Award selected by Joy Acey, Linda Baie, Kate Hillyer, Heidi Mordhorst & Buffy Silverman

I'm Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups
by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

No one is immune to stress in this era of political rancor and natural disaster, including kids. Luckily, a stress-busting antidote is served up in the impeccably rhymed I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups, written by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith. Hilarious, sweet, and thought-provoking, this collection bowled the judges over with its bouncing rhythms, dazzling word play, and rank foolishness. (And the judges weren’t the only ones–review copies kept disappearing into the bedrooms and backpacks of nearby middle-graders.)

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming is a literary tour de force that consistently delights. It’s A. A. Milne crossed with Shel Silverstein, seasoned with a dash of Oscar Wilde and a hint of Ellen Degeneres. It reads like a giant inside joke–a joke that anyone with a funny bone and a few minutes to read can get inside. (Except for 11 ½- year-olds. They have to come back when they are 12. Just read the jacket flap.)

There are stunning visual quips like "The Duel," where the letters b and d face off (it doesn’t go well, resulting in p and q). There’s an ongoing feud between Harris and Smith, as seen in "I Don’t Like My Illustrator" and its lovely accompanying portrait of the author. It has groan-worthy puns, ("The Old Woman Who Lived in Achoo") and plenty of the absurd ("Just Because I’m a Turkey Sandwich and Some Chips Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Have Feelings Too, You Know!") Masterfully sprinkled throughout the silly, naughty, and nonsensical are poignant moments like "I’m Shy on the Outside:"

I’m the life of the party here under my skin.
So keep knocking—
Someday I might let you in.

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming will make poetry lovers of young and old, from any background and experience, even the poetry skeptics–it’s just subversive enough that kids will be passing it around the playground like contraband candy. Best of all, it will make them laugh. Giggle. Chortle. Guffaw. And couldn’t we all use a little more of that these days?

For anyone who's interested in how this decision-making works: there's a nominations period, after which Round 1 readers (typically people with more flexible schedules than I have!) read all the nominated books and come up with a shortlist of approximately 7 finalists.  Then, between Jan. 1 and Feb.14, announcement day, Round 2 readers read those finalist titles, critique, discuss, rant, pronounce, waffle, rank, persuade, and finally agree which book earns the award.

The Cybils Awards Mission is very helpful in this selection process:
The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

The round-up today is hosted by Jone at Check It Out, and thanks to Jone also for her work behind the scenes rounding up the Judging Panel of mostly Poetry Friday regulars who helped to choose this book.  And now, SO much goodness in one double-page spread....Check it out!

Friday, February 9, 2018

february ekphrasis

Laura Shovan's annual birthday month poetry project has burgeoned this year!  Even after setting a limit of 100 participants for the Facebook group, more have petitioned for entry and now well over 100 are looking each day at a piece of art from someone's own home collection and writing about it, or in more cases, from it--taking all different kinds of inspiration.

I too am joining in as able, and below are the pieces I've described (which is all that the word ekphrasis means).  Thanks to Laura and to Kip Wilson Rechea, a fellow author who's helping Laura mind the very busy ekphrasis store!

textile by Morag Gilbart

Thanks for bearing with the unpolished but very fun and challenging quips and snips!  Speaking of which, if you haven't learned about the awesome Windows Snipping Tool which has literally changed my life as a teacher and a blogger, you should:

The round-up today is hosted by Sally Murphy over down under.  See you there, and see you next Wednesday, Valentine's Day, for the announcement of the Cybils Poetry Award winner!  Can't wait to share the big news!