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"this lively collection...blends immediate physical experience with the wonder of opposites"

Here are a few of the juicy poems in Squeeze, along with comments on why they were written and some reviews.      

Get your copy at your local indie bookstore or online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.                                   

I am an early bird and always have been.  I like the feeling of being up before anyone else:  in an empty, quiet world there's room to notice things, room to lay grand plans--
and room to make up new words if I want to.

                                                                      Kirkus Reviews
“Mordhorst's collection of 24 non-rhyming poems is a juicy treat itself, full of evocative images and insightful glimpses into childhood activities, many inspired by her own Southern childhood. She takes ordinary slice-of-life events such as a scraped knee or lying on a sandy beach and turns each into a fresh, adventurous experience that is quite out of the ordinary. In surprising twists, birds grow from birdseed, sand dunes are elephants and a rug turns into a geographic structure for toy cars. The titular poem, "Squeeze," is especially memorable, comparing a lemon in the hand to one's own little universe, sometimes sour and sometimes sweet. Torrey's photographic montages add just the right touch of sugar and spice to the collection: flowers, trees, smiling children and darker shots of the moon, a starlit sky and sparklers twinkling to illustrate a poem about brainpower. Teachers will find this a welcome classroom resource for many age groups."


I noticed a sign like this one when I was out walking in Rock Creek Park.  I liked the idea that stopping for horses might actually make them appear on the bridge, and it became a poem about expectation and disappointment--one of those sour mouthfuls that you get some days.  Recently I noticed that this poem depends on all our senses: looking, listening, catching a whiff, the laying on of hands.  Oh--but not tasting!                 

                                                                       School Library Journal
"Familiar elements of a child's world are explored in these sensitive, free-form verses. The 24 original poems capture an imaginative view of commonplace things and happenings, such as "Wherever you are/is somewhere sour or sweet-/a lemon heaven/full of juice to squeeze." The emergence of spring crocuses, a sandy beach, a honeysuckle vine, a full moon, swinging high on a swing, and riding in the backseat of a car take on new dimensions as the poet's imagination enlarges the ordinary, creating new visions and possibilities.  Artistic, full-page color photos add to the attractiveness of the book." 

Nowadays I'm the driver of the family car most of the time, but this poem is from the time when I was always a passenger, stuck in the back seat with no control over the car or the routes we took.

So... no map to look at?  Make one up out of the lines and leaves and wires.  Headed someplace not very interesting? Go somewhere better: through the doorway of that ramshackle house, through the tall grass of that field, through the spaces between those chunks of gravel, into a whole new world....                                                   

                                                                           ALA Booklist
 “'Let loose . . . hold safe.’ In a poem about soaring high on a swing, Mordhorst captures the rhythm and movement of holding on tight as a swing swoops back and rushes forward. Many of the other poems in this lively collection also blend immediate physical experience with the wonder of opposites in a child’s daily life, whether it’s the combination of noise and quiet that cause a child to wake in the morning or how being alone allows a child’s imagination to fly (“what’s inside me rushes out”). The best poem, “How to Run Away,” could be a picture book in itself. Some of the color photos overwhelm the poetry; it’s sometimes hard to get near the words printed on the bright, big images. Most pictures, however, leave space to imagine the fun. A book for writing classes as well as for reading aloud.” ––Hazel Rochman
"Mordhorst's deft wordplay and carefully honed images cause us to look anew at the stuff of life"

Pumpkin Butterfly was originally titled Ghosts: Poems from the Other Side of Nature.  In many of the poems, most explicitly the first, I imagined something like the ghosts, the spirits beyond what we actually see in nature.  Here are some reviews along with a couple of poems from this book.

Get your copy at your local indie bookstore or online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

                                                                        Nikki Grimes
                       recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children
"I love how these poems sing!  I love the playfulness of language (Most Realistic Costume Award!).  I love the unnamed riddles (Winged Solstice!).  I love the varying points-of-view you use to explore your subjects (Winter Linens!).  Your poems are joyful, and many of them take us places we haven't been before.  The art is a great match, too.  Brava!"

                                                                         ALA Booklist
“Heaven might be this / dark and wet and dangerous.” The excitement of the natural world, from a thrilling lightning storm to butterflies “untethered from earth,” is a child’s joyful discovery in this poetry collection. At home in his yard, the child enjoys playing with the falling leaves, “mounding and drifting and trickling and piling / curling and crumbling and blowing and flying.” The bright watercolor, oil, and tempera illustrations extend the metaphors, with delicately detailed images of petal-soft, tiny, pink, cherry-tree blossoms pedaling toward summer or the literal image of the young speaker’s hoarse throat (the horse may be thirsty for lemon and honey, “but if I feed him / he’ll whinny and fly away”). Far from any solemn reverential view of nature, the poems are filled with fun action that is always rooted in physicality, whether it is shooting a cherry pit missile out of the park (“spitwhistle summerfun home run”) or making frozen angels in the snow. " ~ Hazel Rochman

                                                                       Washington Parent
"Maryland poet Heidi Mordhorst begins her tribute to the seasons with poems rife with autumnal motifs:  pumpkins, the “rusted heat” of fallen leaves and, of course, “frisky whisky” squirrels. Mordhorst’s deft wordplay and carefully honed images cause us to look anew at the stuff of life, including a black cat that is a “howl-yowl queen of prowl,” a wintry sore throat called a “red dragon-horse” and the “pin-thin and brittle” shell of a spring egg. Jenny Reynish’s delicate watercolors capture the look and different moods of each of these 23 free-verse poems. This lyrical treat can be savored year-round, whether you’re curled up by a crackly fire or lounging beneath a summer tree."  ~ Mary Quattlebaum

                                                                  School Library Journal
"This mostly solid collection of 23 poems spans the four seasons through a variety of poetic forms and formats. While some will speak to middle grade readers, others reach toward the broader knowledge base of teens and adults, using sophisticated concepts ("Guest List: Charles Darwin's Garden Party" is a rhymed list of species of living things); conceits ("a gust of butterflies" rises from a pumpkin patch—"the ghosts of our pumpkins…untethered from earth"); and literary phraseology ("my dark doppelgänger/freed by the sun's high call"). Piles of fallen leaves, the behavior of squirrels and raccoons, angels in the snow, blossoming trees, summer shadows, insects, sunflowers, and lightning storms are the subjects here. Reynish clearly enjoys using elements of ethnic- and folk-art decoration and detailing in her colorful watercolor paintings that create frames or backgrounds for many of the selections. Douglas Florian's Handsprings (HarperCollins, 2006), Joyce Sidman's Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow (Houghton, 2006), and J. Patrick Lewis's July Is a Mad Mosquito (S & S, 1994) would make good companions to Mordhorst's volume because each of these fine collections offers an entirely different sort of poetry on nature and seasons."—Susan Scheps 


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