Archives for posts with tag: Children’s Literature

Feather Floating on the Water: Poems for Our Children was funded through an Indiegogo campaign that described the book as “a unique and culturally diverse anthology of poetry for elementary-age children by San Francisco’s finest poets. The book offers children the opportunity to know the work of poets living among them — empowering young people to understand that poetry is a vibrant art form, and one vital to our humanity.”

A labor of love, the poetry contributions, editing, design, and other aspects of the project were donated. The book features the work of over 50 poets, including the first San Francisco Poet Laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti, current Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguia, and celebrated poet A.D. Winans, whose poem “Rain” appears in the collection. The 225-page Feather Floating on the Water: Poems for Our Chidren was donated to every elementary and middle school in San Francisco, as well as to all public library branches.

Culturally diverse and multilingual (the collection includes poems in Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Farsi — with English translations), the book is also illustrated throughout with black and white drawings by a range of fine artists. The universal appeal of this collection brings poetry into focus as humanity’s most heartfelt, insightful, and impactful mode of expression and inspiration.

Find Feather Floating on the Water: Poems for Our Children at The book received a 2014 Acker Award for excellence in children’s literature.


ABOUT THE EDITOR: Virginia Barrett is an influential poet, editor, and arts organizer, a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was a student of Pulitzer and Bollingen Prize-winning poet Charles Wright, a Masters graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, and a professional teaching-artist for over 25 years. She has written many books of poetry, including I Just Wear My Wings, served as coeditor of the acclaimed anthology Occupy SF, and is author of the travel memoir Mbira Maker Blues.


Silver Birch Press, under the umbrella of its new children’s book imprint Silver Starlight Books, is pleased to announce the May 2014 release of Honey Bear by Dixie Willson with full-color illustrations by Maginel Wright Barney, a reissue of the 1923 classic. This is the book that made Tom Wolfe decide to become a writer! This is the book that Joan Didion read to her daughter Quintana Roo Dunne.

“My mother used to read it to me at bedtime long before I knew one letter of the alphabet from another . . . Honey Bear’s main attraction was Dixie Willson’s rollicking, rolling rhythm . . . the Willson beat made me think writing must be not only magical but fun . . . I resolved then and there, lying illiterate on a little pillow in a tiny bed, to be a writer. In homage to Dixie Willson, I’ve slipped a phrase or two from Honey Bear into every book I’ve written.” TOM WOLFE , author of The Right Stuff


Long out of print, used copies of the 1923 edition of the book are selling high prices on ebay and Amazon – some at over $100, even for a badly worn copy. For the first time in decades, Honey Bear by Dixie Willson is available at a reasonable price. If you want to help foster a love of language in the young children in your life, Honey Bear is the answer!


Dixie Willson (1890-1974) was a poet, screenwriter, and author children’s books, novels, and short stories. She liked to gain first-hand experience when researching her stories, and performed as an elephant rider in the Ringling Bros. Circus and a chorus girl in the Ziegfeld Folliies, attended TWA Stewardess School, and worked as a taste tester at Betty Crocker. A prolific author, she wrote over 300 magazine stories, books, and screenplays, four of which were made into films.

Maginel Wright Barney (1881–1966) was a children’s book illustrator and graphic artist, younger sister of Frank Lloyd Wright. She illustrated 63 children’s books, sometimes working alone and sometimes with other artists. Her first job as book illustrator was on The Twinkle Tales, a set of six booklets for young children published by Reilly & Britton in 1906, and written by L. Frank Baum under the pseudonym Laura Bancroft. The books were successful, selling 40,000 copies the first year. Wright Barney also illustrated Baum’s Policeman Bluejay (1907), Johanna Spyri‘s Heidi (1921), and Mary Mapes Dodge‘s Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates (1918).

Depending on where you like to shop, Honey Bear by Dixie Willson is available at or

by Edward Lear

Said the Duck to the Kangaroo,
‘Good gracious! how you hop!
Over the fields and the water too,
As if you never would stop!
My life is a bore in this nasty pond,
And I long to go out in the world beyond!
I wish I could hop like you!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

‘Please give me a ride on your back!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.
‘I would sit quite still, and say nothing but “Quack,”
The whole of the long day through!
And we’d go to the Dee, and the Jelly Bo Lee,
Over the land, and over the sea;—
Please take me a ride! O do!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

Said the Kangaroo to the Duck,
‘This requires some little reflection;
Perhaps on the whole it might bring me luck,
And there seems but one objection,
Which is, if you’ll let me speak so bold,
Your feet are unpleasantly wet and cold,
And would probably give me the roo-
Matiz!’ said the Kangaroo.

Said the Duck, ‘As I sate on the rocks,
I have thought over that completely,
And I bought four pairs of worsted socks
Which fit my web-feet neatly.
And to keep out the cold I’ve bought a cloak,
And every day a cigar I’ll smoke,
All to follow my own dear true
Love of a Kangaroo!’

Said the Kangaroo, ‘I’m ready!
All in the moonlight pale;
But to balance me well, dear Duck, sit steady!
And quite at the end of my tail!’
So away they went with a hop and a bound,
And they hopped the whole world three times round;
And who so happy,—O who,
As the Duck and the Kangaroo?

SOURCE: Lear’s Nonsense Drolleries (1889), available free at

DRAWING: “Duck and Kangaroo” by William Foster from original text.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Edward Lear (1812–1888) was an English artist, illustrator, author and poet, and is known now mostly for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose and especially his limericks, a form he popularized. His principal areas of work as an artist were as a draughtsman employed to illustrate birds and animals, making colored drawings during his journeys, and as an illustrator of Alfred Tennyson’s poems. As an author, he is known principally for his popular nonsense works, which use real and invented English words. His most famous poem is “The Owl and the Pussycat.”

by Maurice Sendak

In April
I will go away
to far-off Spain
or old Bombay
and dream about
hot soup all day.
Oh my oh once
oh my oh twice
oh my oh
chicken soup
with rice.

SOURCE: “April” appears in Maurice Sendak’s book Chicken Soup with Rice (HarperCollins, 1991), available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) is the author of  Where the Wild Things Are (1963), In the Night Kitchen (1970), and many other books for children. He received the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are, the 1970 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, the 1983 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and a 1996 National Medal of Arts for his contribution to the arts in America. In 2003, he received the first Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, an international prize for children’s literature established by the Swedish government.


In the U.S., the month of March is filled with talk of madness – March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournaments. Background on how “March Madness” got its name is in an article at After reading this explanation, I must say, “Hmmm,” and ask, “Did the journalist leave out something — or someone?” My theory is that the inspiration for “March Madness” came from the mad March Hare in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

According to Wikipedia, “Mad as a March hare” is a common British expression based on popular belief about the behavior of male hares during breeding season when they run around acting crazy – boxing with other hares, jumping straight up in the air, racing around in circles, and other wild, excitable behavior. (In Great Britain, breeding season for hares lasts from February to September).

In Carroll’s book — originally published in 1865 — the March Hare behaves as though it’s always teatime because his friend, the equally Mad Hatter, “murdered the time” while singing for the Queen of Hearts. (During the 1800s, “mad as a hatter” was a common British expression – referring to the disorientation hat makers experienced from the mercury used in their trade.)

 Now, let’s revel in a few passages from one of the greatest works in all of literature – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


“Have some wine,” the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. “I don’t see any wine,” she remarked.

“There isn’t any,” said the March Hare.

“The it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,” said Alice angrily.

“It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,” said the March Hare…

The Hatter opened his eyes very wide…”Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

“…I believe I can guess that,” Alice added.

“Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?” said the March Hare.

“Exactly so,” said Alice.

“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.

“I do,” Alice hastily replied, “at least – at least I mean what I say – that’s the same thing, you know.”

“Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter.

“Why, you might just as well say that ‘I see what I eat’ is the same thing as ‘I eat what I see’!”

“You might just as well say,” added the March Hare, “that ‘I like what I get’ is the same thing as ‘I get what I like’!”

ILLUSTRATIONS: John Tenniel (1820-1914)

by A.A. Milne

No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.

It’s flying from somewhere
As fast as it can,
I couldn’t keep up with it,
Not if I ran.

But if I stopped holding
The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
For a day and a night.

And then when I found it,
Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
Had been going there too.

So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes…
But where the wind comes from
Nobody knows.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Alexander Milne (1882–1956) was an English author, best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and for his children’s poems. (Read more at

ILLUSTRATION: “Girl with Kite” by Nancy Crandall (mixed media: acrylic on 16×20 Canvas; kite created from paper cut into triangles, yarn as string and cut bows glued to string), ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Inspired by street artist Banksy and his artwork of a girl with a balloon.

by Dr. Seuss

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

SOURCE: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

by Robert Louis Stevenson

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.

PHOTO: A “supermoon“– closer to the Earth than normal and appearing 14% larger — rises behind roadside plants growing in Prattville, Ala., Saturday, June 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)


“…in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original…” C.S. LEWIS

Narnia fans might enjoy spending 2014 with A Year with Aslan: Daily Reflections on the Chronicles of Narnia.  The book offers 365 of the most thought-provoking passages from all seven Narnia books, paired with questions that promote reflection on particular topics.

The 480-page A Year with Aslan is available at

Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas
by Major Henry Livingston, Jr.

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;
“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow.
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, Major Henry Livingston, Jr., (1748-1828) was a member of a leading colonial family. Livingston worked as a farmer, surveyor, and justice of the peace. In 1775, he enlisted in the Revolutionary Army, just a week after the birth of his first daughter, Catherine — the subject of his first known poem. From 1787, Livingston published light verse in regional journals. His poems were often published anonymously or under the name R. Livingston. His poem “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” played a significant role in establishing a set of beliefs about Santa Claus, by providing a physical description, and by setting the number and names of the reindeer. Until recently, the poem was attributed to poet Clement Clark Moore (1779-1863), who included it in his collected poems in 1844. In Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous (2000), scholar Don Foster gathered evidence to support Livingston as the author of the well-known poem. (Source: