Treasuring Poetry 2023 – Meet poet and author Andrew McDowell and a review #poetry #bookreview #Treasuring Poetry

Which famous poet has influenced your poetry the most?

When I was young, I admired William Shakespeare. I was impressed with how he used words to convey emotions and ideas, and I wanted to follow his example. In my junior year of high school, I participated in a Poetry Out Loud contest where we had to recite a poem. I chose Sonnet XVIII (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”) and won third place. The Shakespearean sonnet was the first poetic form I tried to consistently write in beyond regular rhyming lines. It would not be until college that I began branching out to other forms and eventually free verse.

Which poem that you’ve read has impacted the way you see things in life?

This was a tough one, but one poem that has impacted me is Robert Frost’s famous “The Road Not Taken.”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

In what way has this poem influenced your viewpoint?

Most people interpret it as about making new trails, which is how I interpreted it as a child. Many times, when I’ve been walking, when I took a turn different from the norm, the last three lines presented themselves in my mind.

However, I’d heard that interpretation is accurate, so I looked it up, and to my surprise, it’s true. Frost wrote it as a joke regarding his friend and colleague Edward Thomas, who often hiked with him and had trouble deciding which way to go. The poem is not only about how choices we make determine where we go in life, but also that we often look back and wonder whether we’ve made the right choice. Though I did not grow up with that interpretation, I have found it to be true and profound.

Perhaps Frost’s way of telling poetry influenced me, too; I remember a professor in college, who taught a poetry class I was in, observed that I liked to end poems with a meaning or lesson, drawing a parallel to Frost.

What is your favorite of your own poems?

This was another tough one, because several have special meaning to me. But of those I have published so far, one that deeply resonates is “Lonely Wolf,” which appeared in the 2019 Spring Edition of And I Thought Literary Magazine. It was written in college as a failed attempt at a pantoum, but after a few rejections, I rewrote it as a villanelle. It speaks to the loneliness I have felt—socially and romantically.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

Amongst the tall pine trees and heavy snow,

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

***

Young once within a den huddled tight.

The years passed and sadly I had to go.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

***

Embarking for the greatest peak tonight,

There shall I convey my long-held sorrow.

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

***

Though many have come within my sight,

Why they stand distant I can never know.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

***

Winter’s bitter cold reigns in silent might.

Dark silence only brings light to my woe.

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

***

Here I stand alone on this rocky height.

Here I do bay up where countless stars glow.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

What’s next for you in your writing career?

My focus right now is fiction. My fantasy novel Mystical Greenwood came out in a new edition, so my primary goal is to complete the sequel. I do have many unpublished poems, so I want to keep an eye out for publishing opportunities. A volume of poetry isn’t out of the question—if I can find a unifying theme (my poems touch on many unique ones).

About Andrew McDowell

Andrew McDowell became interested in writing at age 11, inspired by childhood passions for stories and make-believe. By the time he was 13, he knew he wanted to be a writer. He studied at St. Mary’s College and the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association.

In addition to his fantasy novel Mystical Greenwood, Andrew has written poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction, and he is interested in writing drama and lyrics. He was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, when he was 14.

Find Andrew McDowell

Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Tumblr | Goodreads | Amazon

Review of Mystical Greenwood

What Amazon says

Dermot is a fifteen-year-old boy living in a remote village in the land of Denú. He has always longed for something more in his life. Now, everything changes after he sees a renowned creature–a gryphon–in the sky, and then crosses paths with a reclusive healer who harbors a secret.

Soon, he and his brother have no choice but to leave the only home they’ve ever known. They travel with new friends across the land through several great forests, along the way meeting an old man, a family of unicorns, and witnessing an important birth. They must evade fire-breathing dragons and dark-armored soldiers hunting them down, all serving an evil sorcerer determined to subjugate the kingdom, and who will stop at nothing to destroy them.

Denú’s only hope is if a renowned coven returns to face the enemy after years in hiding. Dermot, however, suspects their own role may be more significant than he thought, as he slowly discovers a power which exists amongst the trees and creatures of every greenwood. Can they save those they hold dear? Will Dermot find what he has sought? Or will all that’s free and good be consumed by darkness?

My review

Andrew McDowell has written an extraordinary fantasy tale which centres around the guardians of nature and the Greenwood, called driadors. The plot follows a typical good versus evil path, but the overlay of the protection versus the destruction of the natural environment was unusual, topical, and really fantastic.

Dermot and his brother, Brian, do not get on. Brian is the son who always does as he is asked by his parents and fits the mould of a pleaser, while Dermot is a dreamer and has always felt he was intended for more than his life as an apprentice blacksmith to his father. The rivalry between the two boys comes to a head when Dermot is carried away by a hunting gryphon. Dermot persuades the gryphon to drop him but he is injured during his fall. He wakes up in the care of a healer called Saershe, and her grandson, Ruairi. Dermot realises that they are not ordinary forest dwellers and, following his return home, he becomes obsessed with finding them again.

Brian becomes aware that Dermot has had some sort of unusual experience during his absence and uses this knowledge to stir up trouble for Dermot with their parents. Meanwhile, an evil force in the shape of a fallen driador called Taranis, is lurking just beyond the village, waiting for an opportunity to wreak havoc and destruction and restart an old battle against the driadors. Dermot and Brian will have to learn to trust and rely on each other, and harness the power of nature if they want to save the Greenwood, their friends, family, and themselves.

This is an unusual and well paced story with interesting characters, and these elements more than makes up for the odd moments in the book when Dermot and Brian’s emotional reactions to situations seem slightly lacking in depth or incongruent to the circumstances.

The author has great potential as a writer and I would love to read the next book in this series and find out what happens next in the battle for control between Taranis and the driadors.

Purchase Mystical Greenwood

Amazon US

Andrew McDowell Amazon Author Page

My review of As the World Burns: Writers and Artists Reflect on a World Gone Mad

What amazon says

As the World Burns: Writers and Artists Reflect on a World Gone Mad is an anthology of poetry, prose, essay, and art inspired by the unprecedented events of the year 2020. It embraces fierce and raw creative works relating to life during the Covid-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, and the economic uncertainty and horror of the last eight months. One hundred and fourteen writers and artists spanning ten countries and 30 states are represented in this powerful volume. It is both a story of survival and an act of resistance.

“We speak with many voices, to the damage wrought in these violent, fevered months. Let us never forget or turn away, from what is just, what is necessary, to keep light alive in this world.”

My review

This is an interesting recording by numerous contributors, of the status of the world and society in the run up to the Covid lockdowns, and during the subsequent on-going pandemic. The writings, which comprise of mainly poetry, but also some essays and visual art pieces, also cover events that ran parallel to the lockdowns and pandemic that had an impact on society and politics.

Reading this anthology is an adventure as the messages are intense and vivid and the styles of writing hugely varied due to the significant number of contributors. Although not all the styles of poetry appealed to me, they were all memorable due to the strong emotional messaging, and well worth reading.

My favourite poems are as follows: Falls the Shadow by John W. Leys, I Think the Birds don’t Care by Kelsey Hontz (the words “Somebody has mixed up the two themes of apocalypse and paradise, which would be a fireable offense if anybody were still in the director’s chair for this year of hindsight.” really resonated with me.), Lately by L. Stevens, Quarantine by Andrew McDowell, Upon Waking in a Pandemic by Christine E. Ray, Choice Perhaps by Jane Dougherty, Thirteen Ways of Looking at Life before the Virus by Leslea Newman, Am I Angry? by John W. Leys, Virus by Erik Klingenberg (nightpoet), and Tumbling by Merril D. Smith.

Two of the essays, were particularly interesting to me. I-Soul-Ation by Dr. Sneha Rooh. The closing words of this essay have sadly not come to fruition, in my opinion:

“I would like to think that we will hug people longer, be grateful to be able to work, that we will smile brighter when the masks come off and we’ll let the smiles fully enter our hearts, that we will be careful abut the lies sold to us and remember that we are precious mortals with precious lives and an immense ability to connect and care.”

I am of the view, that the world has returned to its previous status quo with alarming speed and that as a species, we have learned nothing from the lockdowns and the pandemic.

The other essay I particularly enjoyed was Serendipity by Kim D. Bailey.

This book is an important documenting of life during this difficult and stressful time of life when the entire world united to face a common enemy. Sadly, we have still not learned our lesson, as I mentioned above, but perhaps some of us have found more courage to fight for a better eventual outcome for our planet and for humanity.

Purchase As the World Burns

Amazon US

About Robbie Cheadle

Award-winning, bestselling author, Robbie Cheadle, has published thirteen children’s book and two poetry books. Her work has also appeared in poetry and short story anthologies.

Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

The ten Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie’s blog includes recipes, fondant and cake artwork, poetry, and book reviews. https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/


Growing Bookworms – Teaching children about nature and conservation

Teaching our children about the natural environment and conservation is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. There are a few good ways of making sharing about nature and conservation with children, as follows:

  1. Reading books about nature with your child;
  2. Exploring nature with your child;
  3. Art and play; and
  4. Watching documentaries

Reading

There are a number of wonderful children’s books that subtly teach children about the wonders of nature. One is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett when Dicken shows Mary how to care for the locked garden and plant new flowers. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson is another. Set along the Amazon River in Brazil, this book has a strong theme about the importance of nature to the human spirit. A few other wonderful children’s books about animals are White Fang by Jack London, The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, Charlotte’s Webb by E.B. White, Jock of the Bushveld by Sir James Percy FitzPatrick, and The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

This is the song, The Bare Necessities, from Disney’s The Jungle Book, when Baloo, the Sloth Bear, meets Mowgli, the human boy.

There are also some excellent non-fiction books that explain a lot about nature. One of my favourites is Nature Cross-Sections by Richard Orr which includes wonderful picture spreads of cross-sections of, amongst others, a beehive, a tide pool, a termite mound, and a beaver lodge.

This is a cross-section of a beehive from Richard Orr’s Nature Cross-Sections. I referred to this picture when I wrote a piece of my book, Through the Nethergate, about a queen bee and the workings of a beehive.

The Disney Mickey Wonders Why series is also terrific for young children. Laid out as a series of questions such as Why is the sky blue? and Why is the grass green? these books include comprehensive, yet simple, answers and lovely illustrations. You can find the Micky Wonders Why series on Amazon as a set of books or as single books.

Do you have any wonderful books for children about nature that you can recommend?

Exploring nature

There are numerous ways to explore nature and its bounty with your child from nature walks to visiting places of interest like aquariums, bunny parks, and game reserves.

Cooking or baking with your child is also a wonderful way of teaching your child about natures bounty and the products the animal kingdom contributes to our lives including eggs and fresh milk. I was surprised to discover that some city children don’t know that milk and other dairy products generally come from cows.

Art and play

When my sons were younger, we used to play games that included animals. We built a game reserve in the sand pit and set out all the toy animals. We learned about the natural habitat of different animals and that some animals live in rocky terrain, some in savannah areas and some in the forest. We created the right habitat using pot plants and garden rocks and put the correct animals in the correct areas. We also played a water game with a large plastic shell full of water, rocks and a few plants. The water animals lived in the pond. Small children love playing in sand and water and it has many benefits for them. It was amazing how the boys and their friends learned to work together with these games.

I also did a lot of art with my children. We made a swamp from an old cardboard box, paper and paint and learned about the animals that live in a swamp including, of course, Shrek and Fiona. We made centipedes from parts of egg boxes and pipe cleaners and built a volcano from paper mache. When it comes to art, the options are limitless for learning and lots of tactile fun.

Watching documentaries

There are numerous amazing documentaries available that parents can watch with their children. It is always fun to discuss the details of these shows with children afterwards and explore and develop their thoughts and impressions from the information and visuals provided.

Conservation

It is not enough just to talk about conservation, you have to lead by example and demonstrate through your own choices and actions the importance of helping the planet and all its creatures and forms of life to thrive. I will expand on conservation and leading by example in a future post.

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with thirteen children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have recently introduced the first book in the Sir Chocolate holidays and high days book series. Sir Chocolate and the Missing Christmas harp is available on Kindle Unlimited and as an ebook and paperback from Amazon. This series is illustrated with Robbie Cheadle’s gorgeous cake and fondant artwork and includes themed activities and recipes for adults to make with children.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9. Count Sugular and his family hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is also beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has also published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines as well as one micro read with a Christmas theme.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com/, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to embrace learning, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com/ called Dark Origins: Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Stories.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Treasuring Poetry – A tribute to poet and author, Sue Vincent, plus some reviews #SueVincent #Poetrycommunity

I am using this last Treasuring Poetry post for 2022 to celebrate the writing talent of Sue Vincent who passed in March 2021. Sue was an incredible blogger who did a huge amount to support her fellow bloggers, authors, and poets. Her poetry, books, and blog are still close to many of our hearts which is an incredible tribute to her talent and personal charisma.

I am sharing Sue’s responses to a Poetry Readathon I ran on Robbie’s Inspiration in December 2018, two years after I first met Sue.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a Yorkshire lass with two grown sons and two granddaughters. I live with the notorious Small Dog, in a village in rural Buckinghamshire, England. I write daily for my own blog, the Daily Echo, which is an eclectic mix of personal reflections, poetry, history and folklore. I help run the Silent Eye, an international organisation that helps people realise their potential through awareness, and write for our website too. As a writer, I have several books published, including one written with G. Michael Vasey, but most of the time I write in partnership with Stuart France, exploring ancient sites, myths and symbolism in a semi-fictional way.

When ever I think of Yorkshire it reminds me of the book, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Sue and Stuart’s separate and combined blog posts also remind me of this book with their amazing and wonder inducing sights and ideas. 

Sue’s blog is still available to readers who share her love of poetry and fascinating places in the United Kingdom.

Who is your favourite poet?

That has to be an unfair question! It all depends on the moment and the mood. If I had to choose, I would say Omar Khayyam, whose poetry I have carried in my handbag and re-read for many years.

On the other hand, and completely at the other end of the literary scale, there is Marriot Edgar, whose rhyming monologues, written and recited in the vernacular, were so much a part of my childhood that even now, when I write humorous verse, it is to his rhythm.

As I lived in France for many years and learned the language as well as my own, I learned to love French poetry too, and while I could say my favourite is Alfred de Musset or Victor Hugo, I will be honest and say that the poet that moves me the most is the Belgian singer/songwriter, Jacques Brel. The lyrics of his songs are poems in their own right and have a good deal to say and to teach.

The idea of the book of poetry you carry in your handbag, Sue, is completely wonderful to me. It has quite captured my imagination and I think I may start a tradition like this with my son, Gregory.

What is your favourite poem?

Omar Khayyam is easy… Fitzgerald translated his work from the original Farsi, and the quatrains are all in one book, the Rubaiyat…

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit.

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

But then, there is Marriot Edgar to consider… and although The Lion and Albert is probably his best-known work, which I can still recite by heart, I do have a fondness for his take on various events in British history. Particular favourites are The Battle of Hastings, where King Harold confronted William of Normandy:

King ‘Arold came up as they landed –

His face full of venom and ‘ate –

He said ‘lf you’ve come for t’Regatta

You’ve got here just six weeks too late.’

At this William rose, cool but ‘aughty,

And said ‘Give us none of your cheek;

You’d best have your throne re-upholstered,

I’ll be wanting to use it next week.’

Though if I had to pick one, it would be Magna Charter, which recounts how King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta, even if he did dip his pen in the jam…

“And it’s through that there Magna Charter,

As were made by the Barons of old,

That in England today we can do what we like,

So long as we do what we’re told.”

Thank you for introducing me and my readers to these poems, Sue. They are lovely and memorable.

What do you appreciate most in a poem?

The first word that sprang to mind in answer to this question was ‘integrity’, and that, I think, can be applied to all forms of poetry. With humorous verses, I want to laugh. With narrative poems, I want a story that has a beginning, middle and end. With short forms, like the haiku and tanka that are now so popular, I want the capture of a moment and layers of possible interpretation that make me think. With classic poetry, I want to feel what the writer felt, understand the elusive thought or emotion that made them write.

Whether it is free verse, rhyme or one of the many recognised forms, it is not enough to simply string words and phrases together across the lines and beats, arranging it to look like a poem. A poem has to flow; it should sing its own music as it is read, even free verse should have its own rhythm and inner shape. And, whether it is humorous, romantic, spiritual or dramatic, it should have something to say that will leave the reader the richer for having read.

You have summed up beautifully what I also think, Sue. A poem should be meaningful and leave a lasting impression upon the reader.

Why do you write poetry?

I grew up around poetry. My mother’s notebooks introduced me early to how odd incidents and fleeting emotions could be captured in verse. There were the monologues shared with my great-grandparents, and always books… even my first Sunday School Prize was written in verse, and I have loved Dr Seuss ever since.

Things that amuse me tend to be written in my head, as they happen, in Edgar-esque verses, but there are other, deeper things that seem as if they can only be conveyed by poetry. You cannot capture them in everyday words… transient realisations, fleeting emotions, inspiration half-understood. Thoughts and feelings too wide to condense into speech find a home in poetry, where the unspeakable can be spoken and the uncontainable contained in such a way that others might share and glimpse an elusive idea. That is why I read and write poetry.

Would you see Eden in a withered bough?

Sunlight in shadows, or flowers bloom in frost?

Beauty in sorrow, or gifts in the dark?

Ask the Earth and the song of wild water

To whisper their secrets.

Follow the moon-path to the horizon

And look within.

I feel you have written your reasons like a true poet, Sue. Writing poetry is something we are compelled to do as part of the communication of our deepest feelings and thoughts. It is really the only way some things can be said for some people.

Sue Vincent’s poetry books

My review of Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two

Where to start with a review of Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two by Sue Vincent? I loved this books so much and so did Michael. It became a bit of a contentious book between Mike and I as I sneakily read ahead and Michael realised that I wasn’t starting where I had finished reading to him and made me go back. He was very determined not to miss a single word. I love this type of story, told mainly through the eyes of a small and very cute dog called Ani. Sue depicts day to day life in such a humorous and fun filled way and I found it a wonderful way to end each stress filled day to sit down and read a few chapters of Ani’s antics to Michael [and to myself of course thereby sparking Mike’s intense displeasure as mentioned above]. Sue writes beautiful descriptions of the natural environment where she lives and her depictions of some of Ani’s learning experiences are very funny. I can just picture the surprise of a small dog taking a flying leap into a pond that has frozen overnight. Sue describes Ani’s anxiety and attention when she is ill and her concern and caring when Ani is ill. This book is altogether completely delightful and tells a beautiful story of the special relationship that can develop between man and his best friend. There are also a few of Sue’s humorous and clever Ani poems thrown in for good measure. This genre of book is just up my street and I rated this book five out of five on Goodreads and Amazon.

Purchase Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Notes-Small-Dog-Four-Legs-ebook/dp/B00GNHTIAW

Laughter Lines, Life from the Tail End

Michael and I are firm Ani addicts so another whole book about Ani’s antics is a real treat. The goings on of Ani’s two legs, sets Michael off into gales of laughter so we are really happy to read about the trials and tribulations of “Her” too.

The book is written in rhyming verse and tells all sorts of tales. To coin a phrase, Ani says:

“The time has come,” the doglet said,

“to talk of many things;

Of tennis balls and squeaky ducks,

and sneaky bees with stings; …”

In this book, Laughter Lines, Life from the Tail End, you will meet some of Ani’s friends, OR NOT:

The cat likes to sit on the roof of the shed

While the dog views this as an intrusion,

It’s all fur and teeth

As the dog growls beneath

And the birds flutter round in confusion.

We get some insights into Ani’s diet:

Its cream cheese and crackers for me and the dog,

While I’m more the epicure… she’s just a hog…

AND

Me and the dog had a sandwich for brunch

(Well, for me it was breakfast, for her it was lunch.)

NOT TO MENTION

The ham disappeared without leaving a trace

Except for the grin upon one small dog’s face.

So if you like to enjoy life and have a good giggle, pick up this delightful book of light-hearted poems and jump right in. There are also some lovely photographs in the book for the reader to enjoy.

You can purchase Laughter Lines, Life from the Tail End here: https://www.amazon.com/Laughter-Lines-Life-Tail-End-ebook/dp/B00USCYJ20

Doggerel: Life with the Small Dog

Ani, or the Small Dog, as she is referred to in this delightful collection of poetry, is a rescue dog whose mother and father were found living together in an Irish field, awaiting the birth of their litter of puppies. Ani’s two legs is named Sue Vincent and she is a Yorkshire born writer, a teacher and a director of The Silent Eye. Both Ani and Sue write highly entertaining blogs.

So what is life like for a Small Dog who blogs and writes poetry, living with another writer who is obsessed with bathing her? Ani tells us all about her life with Sue in a collection of hilarious and poignant poems, largely written in rhyming verse

Well, to start of with, Ani makes it quite clear she does not enjoy being tricked into bathing:
“I got them back on exit
When I shook my dripping fur…
(I didn’t get my boy too much,
But aimed it all at her.)”

“To add insult to injury…
All guilt upon her head…
When I went off to sulk a bit
I found she’d washed my bed!”
Both from Touche.

Ani also does not like having to diet:
“Now this works a treat, if you’ll pardon the pun,
‘Cause she either forgets, gives me treats or a bun
Or more likely she will not go in there at all
‘Cause, “You’ve put on a pound or two, girlie, since fall…”
from In hiding…

Of course, Ani is the first to worry if her Two-Legs gets sick:
“My two-legs has broken down again,
Or maybe she’s still broke,
I think she’s cute with hamster cheeks…
She says it’s not a joke.”
from Karma

Ani is also the first to admit that when she is sick, her Two-Legs nurses her with devoted care:
“Being poorly does have compensations;
‘Cause she’s worried to death, I can tell.
But now she is just so attentive…
I’m not in a rush to get well.”
from Sleeping Dogs Lie…?

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book of poetry about the antics and life experiences of the Small Dog. I would recommend it to anyone who loves dogs and who enjoys having a good giggle about life in general.

You can purchase Doggerel: Life with the Small Dog here: https://www.amazon.com/Doggerel-Life-Small-Sue-Vincent-ebook/dp/B081B8BSFC

Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas

Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas is a delightful book full of Christmas cheer. Ani, the small dog, is reflecting on Christmas’ past, present and future through a combination of letters to Santa and poems. The perplexities of ‘fake’ Santas, the ‘theft’ of a favourite sofa, and gifts of tennis balls and a chicken flavoured biscuit, all require Ani’s consideration. Her naughty secrets are also revealed such as the time she ate all the left over turkey and salmon and fell through the ice in the pond [it was shallow]. The indignities of baths and having to wear reindeer antlers are also shared.

Join Ani and her two legs, Sue Vincent, for a glorious romp through advent and Christmas Day.

A few of my favourite verses:
“I’ve tried to help with household chores,
I’ve laundered all my balls,
I’ve chased the pigeons form the shed
And spiders from the walls.” from Request

“She’s like a puppy when it snows
We just go out to play…
And if she wraps up warm enough
We might stay out all day.” from Wishing for the White Stuff

“The windows are all closed at night
The keyhole seems to small
To wriggle through with turkey
And a brand new tennis ball.” from Chimneys.

Purchase Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas here: https://www.amazon.com/Pass-Turkey-Small-Dogs-Christmas-ebook/dp/B081ZBR2GZ

Life Lines: Poems from a Reflection

I love poetry and I read a lot of poems and poetry books and I found the poems in this amazing little book to be quite profound. Sue Vincent touches on all aspects of life, including the sadder and more emotionally difficult aspects such as loss of a loved one, in a beautifully poignant and yet positive and uplifting way which make them satisfying and wonderfully uplifting.

Most of these poems are written in freestyle form with a couple in rhyming verse. The poet has matched the style well to the content of the poem and the rhyming verse poems present the more light hearted and upbeat toned poems.

A few short extracts that I found particularly impactful are as follows:

“The pen paints the souls longing
In jewel tones.” from Purpose

“There were flowers,
Three red roses,
Red as life,
Placed in a cold hand,
One for each heart
Saying a final farewell.
When the tears fall,
There are always flowers.” from Flowers

“Two ravens whisper in my ear,
As Thought and Memory begin.

Within the darkness of their wings
Stir images, both dark and bright,
That dance within the secret heart
And quiet hours of the night.” from Odin’s Ravens [my favourite poem in this collection]

“My pillow held the hollow where you lay,
With love glazed eyes that held me,
Watching as the wildness took me,
Smiling up at me.” from Memory [intensely poignant poem]

Purchase Life Lines: Poems from a Reflection here: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Lines-Reflection-Sue-Vincent-ebook/dp/B00PJSPLI4

Midnight Haiku: A Year in Contemplation

Sue Vincent is well know for her poetry. Some is poignant and sad, some is humorous, some is incredibly beautiful, and all is emotional, insightful, and meaningful. Sue has mastered many forms of poetry, including freestyle, rhyming verse, tankas, and haikus.

Her haikus, only 17 syllables long, are among the most powerful of her many poems. This book is a collection of 365 days of haikus and loosely follows the seasons.

The best way of demonstrating the beauty and power of these haikus is by sharing a few of my favourites:

“earth captures heaven

holding stars in tender hands

that the blind may see”

***

“a flaming chalice

raising itself to the sun

accepting the light”

***

“beyond the roses

colouring a summer sky

a smiling god paints”

***

“defiant colour

sparking through the fading days

celebrating joys”

***

“memory’s pictures

neatly framed in timeless rolls

colouring the day”

These five haiku are the ones that moved me the most and I hope they have illustrated the magnificence of this beautiful book.

Purchase Midnight Haiku: A Year in Contemplation here: https://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Haiku-Contemplation-Sue-Vincent-ebook/dp/B08YM9KBNJ

Poetry Treasures

Sue Vincent was also a contributor to Poetry Treasures, a WordCrafter anthology of poetry.

A review of Poetry Treasures

A sweet short read and a collaboration of a variety of poems written in various forms of poetry by some talented poets. I feel like this book was an introduction to the poets as well as a sampling of their creativity in poetry. I especially enjoyed the poetry of Colleen Chesebro and a delicious sampling of intrinsic poetry by the talented and missed, the late, Sue Vincent.

You can purchase Poetry Treasures here: https://www.amazon.com/Poetry-Treasures-Sue-Vincent-ebook/product-reviews/B0933KSJR9

More about Sue Vincent

You can read my Treasuring Poetry interview with Sue Vincent here: https://writingtoberead.com/2020/04/25/sue-vincent-shares-her-thoughts-on-poetry-and-a-review/

Diana Peach shared a most beautiful poem by the late Sue Vincent as a tribute to her mother who sadly passed from our Earthly world in late November 2022. You can read it here: https://mythsofthemirror.com/2022/11/13/go-gently-into-that-good-night-2/

Colleen Chesebro shared a lovely poem in celebration of the late Sue Vincent in her latest poetry book, which I reviewed here: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2022/12/11/robbies-inspiration-book-blog-tour-fairies-myths-magic-ii-by-colleen-m-chesebro-and-a-review-poetry-shortstories-readingcommunity/

You can find out more about Colleen Chesebro’s book here: https://colleenmchesebro.com/category/colleens-books/

Find Sue Vincent’s books and poetry

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Vincent/e/B00F2L730W/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6551588.Sue_Vincent

Blog: https://scvincent.com/about/

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – Some wonderful Christmas books for Children #readingcommunity #childrensfiction #growingbookworms

Christmas is fast approaching and this year’s will be the first normal Christmas many of us will be experiencing since 2019.

Last year, South Africa had an outbreak of Covid-19 round about now and we all went back into hibernation. My cousin and his family were here from the UK and they got trapped for an extra 2 1/2 weeks because of the quarantine requirements in the UK.

We are looking forward to a lovely family Christmas this Saturday before my family and my mom leave for the UK for just over two weeks. We are looking forward to seeing our extended family for the first time in three years.

The run up to Christmas is a wonderful time to read books with your children. There are numerous books that celebrate the Christmas story and also a significant number of books that share the message of kindness and sharing without any specific religious affiliation.

These are a few of my favourite Christmas stories and I’ve slipped in my own two newly released Christmas books for children at the end. These books are my first attempts at publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing and I am pleased with how they’ve turned out.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

What Amazon says

The timeless Christmas classic from the iconic Dr. Seuss is now available in ebook. Read this favourite story of joy, love and acceptance anytime, anywhere!

(This ebook is optimised for Kindle tablets and the Kindle App. It is not suitable for e-Ink kindle devices, such as the PaperWhite. We recommend you download a sample to your device before purchase if in doubt.)

“The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason…”

With a heart two sizes too small, the Grinch is the meanest creature you’ll ever meet. He hates Christmas and the whole festive season. But when he hatches a dastardly plot to steal Christmas, he’s in for a big surprise!

This classic seasonal story has become a favourite for good reason. Through hilarious rhymes and beautiful illustrations, Dr. Seuss teaches readers the true meaning of Christmas.

With his unique combination of hilarious stories, zany pictures and riotous rhymes, Dr. Seuss has been delighting young children and helping them learn to read for over fifty years. Creator of the wonderfully anarchic Cat in the Hat, and ranked among the UK’s top ten favourite children’s authors, Dr. Seuss is a global best-seller, with over half a billion books sold worldwide.

A few quotes

“Packed it up with their presents, their ribbons, their wrappings, Their snoof and their fuzzles, their tringlers and trappings! Ten thousand feet up, up the side of Mount Crumpet, He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!”

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Purchase How the Grinch Stole Christmas here: https://www.amazon.com/How-Grinch-Stole-Christmas-Seuss-ebook/dp/B077BM5NVM

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

What Amazon says

“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”

Late one Christmas Eve after the town has gone to sleep, the boy boards the mysterious train that waits for him: the Polar Express bound for the North Pole. When he arrives, Santa offers the boy any gift he desires. The boy modestly asks for one bell from the harness of the reindeer. The gift is granted. On the way home the bell is lost. On Christmas morning, the boy finds the bell under the tree. The mother of the boy admires the bell, but laments that it is broken—for you see, only believers can hear the sound of the bell.

Awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1986, ‘The Polar Express ‘has sold more than 7 million copies, become a classic holiday movie, and been translated into stage productions that take place across the United States during the holiday season.

Purchase The Polar Express here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0395389496

Mr. Men and Little Miss Christmas Books by Roger Hargreaves

Roger Hargreaves has an array of different books in the Mr. Men and Little Miss series of illustrated books for children. Among his many amazing books, he has a few dedicated to Christmas.

https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Christmas-Men-Little-Miss-ebook/dp/B00AEBCTG8

One day Mr. Christmas receives a call from his uncle, Santa Claus, asking for help. Can Mr. Christmas help Santa deliver presents to all of the Mr. Men?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HQLB7AI

Mr. Stingy is a stingy old miser who hates Christmas. But one night he is visited by three ghosts who show him that heÕs been living his life badly and needs to mend his ways! In this lighthearted adaptation of DickensÕs A Christmas Carol, Mr. Happy plays Bob Cratchit and Mr. Nosey, Little Miss Wise, and Little Miss Bossy play the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O2BS3LQ

Little Miss Christmas spends all year wrapping presents for Santa Claus. But when the wrapping isn?t done in time, Little Miss Christmas has to call on her Mr. Men and Little Miss friends to help out!

The Christmas Bird by Robbie Cheadle

The Deanne family is having a difficult time financially. Mr. Deanne’s business has failed and there is no money for Christmas presents and other luxuries. The family’s undernourished dogs discover a bird’s nest on Christmas Day and attack and kill the chicks. All except one tiny ball of fluff with luminous bright eyes like drops of oil. The baby bird is in shock, but the four Deanne girls try to save it. Will the Christmas Bird survive?

Purchase The Christmas Bird here: https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Bird-Robbie-Cheadle-ebook/dp/B0BMMB2H75

Sir Chocolate and the Missing Christmas Harp

The Christmas Fairy’s harp has gone missing. Without it, the parents and children won’t sleep on Christmas Eve and Santa can’t deliver Christmas presents. Can Sir Chocolate help Santa find the missing harp and save Christmas?
Includes five fun related limericks and five Christmas themed creative activities and recipes that caregivers can make with small children.

Purchase Sir Chocolate and the Missing Christmas Harp here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BNHX8XGC

I made a video for this book and I would be delighted if you would view it and let me know what you think of it here:

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and writer Penny Wilson #poetry #poetrycommunity #treasuringpoetry

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

Trying to choose a favorite poem of my own, is like trying to choose a favorite child! Writing is an incredibly personal thing and our creations become our “babies”.  Looking back through poems that I’ve written in the past, I will come across one that really strikes me as being exceptional.  I’m often surprised by what I find on these journeys of reminiscing. 

But to answer your question, today, right now, I think my favorite poem is called Poetry Of My Heart .

The poetry of my heart

spills onto the page

in blue ink

and fervent sighs

The poetry of my heart

is written on the wings

of dreams

and nights

of longing

The poetry of my heart

negate shadows of terrors

not voiced

The poetry of my heart

stands tall

against this world

What inspired you to write this poem?

I don’t know if any One Thing was the inspiration for this poem.  In essence, I’m saying that my poetry will speak for me when I cannot and I find a lot of power and freedom in that. 

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I am currently going through past poems of mine, published and unpublished in order to compile them to submit for publishing in a book or Chapbook.

What is your favourite poem?

My favorite poem?  This is a very difficult question.  I have many, many beloved works of poetry.  Since joining the WordPress community, that love has expanded 10-fold and continues to grow. 

My mother dedicated a poem to me when I was very young, called “Ordinary Miracles”, by Erica Jong.  This is probably still a favorite poem of mine.

Spring, rainbows,
ordinary miracles
about which
nothing new can be said.

The stars on a clear night
of a New England winter;
the soft air of the islands
along the old
Spanish Main;
pirate gold shining
in the palm;
the odor of roses
to the lover’s nose. . .

There is no more poetry
to be written
of these things.
The rainbow’s sudden revelation–
behold!
The cliché is true!
What can one say
but that?

So too
with you, little heart,
little miracle,

but you are
no less miracle
for being ordinary.

Why do you like this poem?

I like this poem because it always reminds me of my mother and her love for me.  To her, I was her “little miracle”.  It has always held a special place in my heart because of that.

***

Thank you, Penny, for being a wonderful guest. I really loved both your poetry choices and am delighted at the idea your mother dedicated a poem to you. What a lovely idea. I look forward to reading your book in due course.

About Penny Wilson

Penny Wilson is a freelance writer who writes in several genres. She has written articles for WOW Women on Writing.  Her poetry has been published in online journals, such as Ariel Chart, Spill Words Press and the Poppy Road Review.  Penny is a member of the Austin Poetry Society. Her poetry has been featured in the publication America’s Emerging Poets 2018 & 2019 by Z Publishing, Poets Quarterly and Dual Coast Magazine published by Prolific Press. You can find more of her writings on her blog at https://pennywilsonwrites.com/ and follow her on Twitter @pennywilson123.

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – The importance of colour when illustrating children’s books #childrensfiction #readingcommunity #growingbookworms

Many children’s picture books make use of brightly coloured cartoon style illustrations. Children are attracted to  bright colors such as red, yellow, green, blue, and pink. These colors create a sense of energy and playfulness and also emanate happiness. Colour impacts on children’s moods, behaviour, and educational performance.

Part of the reason children prefer bright colours is because saturated colours are easier for young, developing eyes to see. Bright colors and contrasting colors stand out more in a child’s field of vision than feinter shades.

Colour effects the way the brain functions and can be used by illustrators to encourage pattern recognition, memory, and the ability of young readers to absorb new information.

Here are a few examples of colours and how they can be used for learning:

RED – a powerful and attention-grabbing colour, red stimulates alertness and excitement. It encourages creativity and can also increase appetite.

BLUE – provides a sense of comfort by exuding calmness, loyalty, peace, serenity, and security.

YELLOW – encourages positive feelings and improves concentration by promoting creativity, clarity, and optimism.

GREEN – symbolises nature and the natural world. Green relieves stress and provides a sense of healing. It also represents balance, growth, tranquillity, cleanliness and calmness.

ORANGE – like red, orange is an energetic colour that promotes alertness. Orange creates a sense of passion, warmth, excitement and encourages communication.

PINK –   symbolises love, romance, nurture, warmth, calmness, and imagination.

It is also important for illustrators, or writers engaging an illustrator, to note that colours can also overstimulate children, instead of inspiring them, so a balance of bright and neutral colours is required for illustrations.

I illustrate my own children’s books and I try to apply these principles in my own work. This is a collage of a selection of my fondant and cake art illustrations.

My illustrations have proved popular with children so I think I am getting the colour coding right.

These are some examples of famous children’s books and illustrators:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Amazon US

What do you think? Do you like bright colours? Have you written a children’s book and illustrated it yourself or engaged an illustrator? Let me know in the comments.

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Treasuring Poetry: Meet children’s author, illustrator and poet, Judy Mastrangelo #review #poetry #childrensfiction

Today, I am delighted to welcome talented children’s author, illustrator and poet, Judy Mastrangelo, as my Treasuring Poetry guest with her new book of poems for children.

Which of your own poem is your favourite?

SWAN BOAT                                                                                     

by Judy Mastrangelo

A Graceful Swan Boat                                                                

glides through quiet waters.

***

Sing to me my little ones of

Lands where Dreams are Born.

***

Sky Dreams, Cloud Dreams,

Castles full of Fairy Tales.

Lands where Elves dwell,

and Fairies dance till morn.

This is a beautiful poem, Judy.

What inspired you to write this poem?

Being an illustrator/artist, plus an author, I often begin a creation with an image that appears in my imagination.  I call it a “Mind Painting”. This little poem came to me along with the Fairy image, with its lyrical song-like verse.  The rhythm of the words seemed to go along with the gentle rocking of the Fairy Swan Boat as it floated down a magical stream in Fairyland.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I’m now working on some books of original fantasy poems that I’m illustrating with my artwork.

What is your favourite poem?

THE FLY-AWAY HORSE

by Eugene Field

Oh, a wonderful horse is the Fly-Away Horse–
Perhaps you have seen him before;
Perhaps, while you slept, his shadow has swept
Through the moonlight that floats on the floor.
For it’s only at night, when the stars twinkle bright,
That the Fly-Away Horse, with a neigh
And a pull at his rein and a toss of his mane,
Is up on his heels and away!
The moon in the sky, as he gallopeth by,
Cries: “Oh! What a marvelous sight!”
And the Stars in dismay hide their faces away
In the lap of old Grandmother Night.
***
It is yonder, out yonder, the Fly-Away Horse
Speedeth ever and ever away–
Over meadows and lane, over mountains and plains,
Over streamlets that sing at their play;
And over the sea like a ghost sweepeth he,
While the ships they go sailing below,
And he speedeth so fast that the men on the mast
Adjudge him some portent of woe.
“What ho, there!” they cry,
As he flourishes by
With a whisk of his beautiful tail;
And the fish in the sea
Are as scared as can be,
From the nautilus up to the whale!
*** 
And the Fly-Away Horse seeks those far-away lands
You little folk dream of at night–
Where candy-trees grow, and honey-brooks flow,
And corn-fields with popcorn are white;
And the beasts in the wood are ever so good
To children who visit them there–
What glory astride of a lion to ride,
Or to wrestle around with a bear!
The monkeys, they say:
“Come on, let us play,”
And they frisk in the coconut-trees:
While the parrots, that cling
To the peanut-vines sing

And fan a cool wind with their wings!

***
Or converse with comparative ease!
***
Off! scamper to bed — you shall ride him to-night!
For, as soon as you’ve fallen asleep,
With a jubilant neigh he shall bear you away
Over forest and hillside and deep!

Eugene Field is a new poet to me, but I loved this poem best from your new collection.

Why do you like this poem?

I feel that Eugene Field is one of the most beloved poets who wrote only for children.  I feel a connection with him in that respect, among other aspects of his art, since the majority of my books are also geared toward the “Young and Young at heart”. 

His poems are beautiful, imaginative, and full of a dreamy quality that children love.  He’s known as the “Poet of Childhood”. This poem speaks to me with its childlike fantasy that conjures up some delightful images in my mind, and I thoroughly enjoyed creating paintings to illustrate it.


But tell us, my dear, all you see and you hear
In those beautiful lands over there,
Where the Fly-Away Horse wings his far-away course
With the wee one assigned to his care.
Then grandma will cry
In amazement: “Oh, my!”
And she’ll think it could never be so.
And only we two
Shall know it is true–
You and I, little precious! shall know!

Poems to Dream on by Judy Mastrangelo

What Amazon says

Artist Judy Mastrangelo’s magical and colorful paintings beautifully bring to life this collection of famous and beloved poetry, written by great poets of the past. Here are a few of her favorite poems she has chosen to illustrate for this enchanting anthology:

From Robert Louis Stevenson’s volume “A Child’s Garden of Verses”, you can have fun flying up in the air with “The Swing”, and looking for tiny Garden Fairies in his poem “The Flowers”. Eugene Field, known as “The Poet of Childhood”, recounts a comical “Duel” of the whimsical Gingham Dog and Calico Cat. And his lovely “Rock-a-By Lady from Hushaby street” takes us to visit her wondrous Land of Dreams. Joyce Kilmer expresses the beauty of “Trees” who wear “a nest of robins in their hair” in his celebrated poem. You will recognize the popular lines “All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small”, in the poem by Cecil Frances Alexander. The funny “Three Little Kittens” will give you a chuckle as they search for their mittens, and you will marvel at the beauty of the “road from earth to sky” in “The Rainbow”, by Christina Rossetti. The poem “Toyland”, written by Glen MacDonough, contains the familiar verse “Toyland, toyland, Little girl and boy land”. Thiswas set to music for the charming operetta “Babes in Toyland” by Victor Herbert.

Judy has also included some of her own original poems that she wrote and illustrated, such as the “Graceful Swan Boat”, in which you can sail away “to lands where dreams are born”. From her series “Garden Gates”, you will enjoy playing with children in the Buttercups, having a Foxglove Tea Party, marching in a Tulip Parade, and making a wish on a Water Lily Pond.

Both Children and Adults of all ages will delight in reading this engaging medley of poetry, as well as looking at Judy’s captivating, detailed, and stunning artwork, which enhances and illustrates it so perfectly. In her “Poems To Dream On”, she has created an endearing and tender book, which will be cherished by readers for many years to come.

My review

Poems to Dream on is a beautiful edition to Judy Mastrangelo’s family of books. She has selected several delightful poems and songs by a variety of poets, including a few contributions she penned herself, and illustrated them with her wonderfully colourful illustrations.

Although I am a great lover of children’s nursery rhymes and poems, several of the poems in this collection are new to me, including The Fly-Away Horse, The Duel, and The Rock-a-By Lady by Eugene Field and The Sandman by Margaret Thomson Janvier.

One particularly gorgeous verse from The Fly-Away Horse is as follows:
“And the Fly-Away Horse
Seeks those far-away lands
You little folk dream of at night.
Where candy-trees grow,
And honey-brooks flow,
And corn-fields with popcorn are white.”

My favourite of Judy’s own poems is Buttercups:
“Buttercups are magical.
They’re gifts from
Heaven above,
Which bring us Joy and Happiness
In golden cups of Love.”

This book is perfect to introduce children to the magic of poetry and fantasy with Judy’s fantastic illustrations to bring the words to life. 

Purchase Poems to Dream on

Amazon US

Judy Mastrangelo Amazon Author Page

About Judy Mastrangelo

Judy Mastrangelo has written and illustrated several books, which include themes of Poetry, Fairytales, and Fairies. She follows in the tradition of “The Art of the Golden Age of Illustration”. Some of her titles include: a series of four Fairy books: “Portal to the Land of Fae” which include Flower Fairies, Fairy Tale Fairies, Secrets of the Fairies, and Mystical Fairies. Additional books include “What Do Bunnies Do All Day?”, “Enchanted Fairy Tales”, which she illustrated and adapted, “The Star”, illustrating the poem Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and her new fairy tale “The Magic Blanket”. Besides creating books, her artwork has been used in several Inspirational Oracle Card Decks, as well as some that she has also written herself. She licenses her artwork for many products, including Art Prints and Wall Murals. Judy has taught Creative Drama and Dance as well as Painting, to Children and Adults, and has directed her own Community Theater for all ages. As part of her work, she enjoys encouraging people to develop their own Imagination and Artistic Talents.

You can visit her at www.judymastrangelo.com.

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Winners of the Haunted Halloween Holiday Wordcrafter blog tour giveaway

Thank you to everyone who participated in Robbie and Michael Cheadle’s Haunted Halloween Holiday WordCrafter book tour.

The winners of the giveaway are as follows:

The winners of the $10 Amazon Gift vouchers are: A.C. Flory, Diana Wallace Peach, and Dan Antion.

The winners of the paperback book are: Esther O’Neil, Toni Pike, and Marian Beaman.

Please contact Robbie Cheadle at sirchoc[at]outlook[dot]com to claim your prize.


Growing Bookworms – Activities to teach children critical thinking skills

What are critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking is the ability to analyse facts and form a judgement.

In order to develop critical thinking skills, the following characteristics need to be fostered:

  1. An attitude of open mindedness, respect for evidence and reasoning, and the ability to see things from different perspectives and points of view;
  2. The ability to make a statement or decision based on supporting evidence;
  3. The ability to use reasoning skills to come to a logical conclusion. In other words, the ability to infer an outcome based on the facts and arguments presented;
  4. The ability to analyse information to assess its truthfulness. In other words, an ability to determine what is believable based on the facts and circumstances, and what is not.

Critical thinking skills help children learn how to work independently and solve problems.

Activities for teaching children critical thinking skills

  1. Creating art – when you express yourself using an artform, music or drawing or painting, you show an emotion or thought without using words and this encourages critical thinking.
  2. Games and puzzles – these activities help children learn to formulate strategies and understand how to approach a game with a plan of action.
  3. Reading books – while readings books, ask the child about the activities, thoughts, and emotions of the characters in the stories. Let them volunteer how they think a character will react to a certain situation and ask them how they think the story will end. This teaches the child to consider various options and outcomes and come up with theories.
  4. Real problems – modern children are exposed much younger to the problems of the world such as drought, hunger, and global warming. Discuss these issues with your child and help them consider possible solutions. The ability to find solutions to problems is a great skill and also encourages positivity and a sense of control. It is encouraging to think there are potential solutions to big issues.
  5. Building blocks – playing with lego and building blocks helps children to sift through endless possibilities, decide on one, and implement it. If it fails, they can try again.

My blogging friend, Norah Colvin, ex-teacher and developer of Readilearn Early Childhood Teaching Resources, recently shared an excellent post called Teaching thinking in the early years with itc thinkdrive. This post offers teachers some excellent resources for teaching critical thinking skills. You can read Norah’s post here: https://www.readilearn.com.au/teaching-thinking-in-the-early-years-with-itc-thinkdrive/

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet and author, Yvette Prior and a book review #Poetrylovers #readingcommunity @bookreview

Today, I am very excited to welcome Yvette Prior from Priorhouse blog as my September Treasuring Poetry guest. Yvette is among the first bloggers I met when I started Robbie’s Inspiration and she was always encouraging and supportive of my artwork and writing. Thank you, Yvette.

Today, Yvette, a talented poet and author herself and a huge supporter of other writers and bloggers, is going to share some of her thoughts about poetry and some readings from her lovely poetry book, Avian Friends.

What is your favourite poem and why?

Winter Chill

Stood and listened

to birds tweet and whistle

had breakfast to make

day to begin

stuff to do

but standing

in winter chill

at the back door

harmony

stopped me

hope flew in

melodious infusing during a winter chill

trees still bare

yet birds were there

dulcet air

momentary loss of care

cold days

soon to part ways

winter hard is exiting

birds returning

spring soon erupting

green grass, pleasant breeze

flowers, butterflies, bees

replacing freeze

shivering, I shut the door

musical deliverance once more

Behind the poem

Winter Chillwas written about a brief experience I had when I opened the backdoor one winter’s day. I was stopped in my tracks. It was the first time I had heard the birds in a long time and their “harmony stopped me” as “hope flew in.” I am not what people would refer to as a “birder.” I do not put out seeds and we don’t have any feeders on our property (although I might add some later). The birds have just found a nice little habitat on their own and I am grateful. In this poem, I described the scene exactly as it unfolded -opened the door, heard the birds, and I was reminded that a better season was on its way. This idea could apply to more than just a cold weather season ending – it could also apply to the trials and heavy times in life. Challenging times do not last forever and sometimes we might just need to pause – in the midst of a difficult season – and find small (healthy) ways to enjoy “momentary loss of care.” Hope can mean so much too – and so anytime we have Hope fly in – let’s embrace it. 

Please share a poem you enjoy and why you enjoy it

This is just to say by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

***

and which

you were probably

saving for breakfast

***

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

Williams’ poem whispers so much to me and one takeaway is the freedom someone felt to indulge in the plum. There are times we sacrifice times we do outreach and hold back – but this depicts the opposite – it shows us someone so comfortable with the other person where they ate the plum (while knowing the person was saving it). The poem makes me smile because I can imagine how juicy and tasty it was. And the title and tone of the poem lets us know that the consumer here is not apologizing for eating it either. That’s my take. 

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I try to write every day, in a paper notebook, and most of this year I have been busy working on non-poetry projects so I only wrote a handful of poems this year. My goal is to get back to my musings with poetry. Even if all of the poems do not make it into a future book, I enjoy writing them.

 I started writing in middle school but really got into poetry while in college. In between classes, I created free verse poems. I moved words around andenjoyed simple rhyming schemes. 

I know that folks sometimes put down the easy rhymes, but I like them.  It is not about creating difficult poetry for me – it really is a type of solitude with words and ideas. 

Thank you, Yvette, for your lovely answers and for being my guest today.

Yvette has shared a lovely YouTube video recital of some of her poems from Avian Friends.

My review of Avian Friends by Yvette Prior

What Amazon says

In Avian Friends, you will find more than forty poems that offer encouragement and uplifting stories. The poems are free rhyme and connect to different life scenarios. Each poem also includes a “behind the poem” section, which provides personal reflections, teaching tidbits, and ideas for wellness. Backyard birds inspired the poems and the topic of faith has been gently woven in (not in a religious way) with the hope that diverse readers can enjoy the content.

The poems in this book are not complicated poems; instead, they are light and can lift the reader’s mood. The poems are for those who do not always read poetry – as well as for the poetry lover.

My review

Avian Friends is a delightful book of poetry that centres around the author’s interactions with birds in her personal life. In the reactions and interactions of her avian friends, the author finds threads of similarity to human reactions to circumstances and experiences and in relationships. She weaves these thoughts into the observations expressed in her poems.

One of the most interesting section of poems for me where the ones written following the death of a young and close relative. The author’s grief is palpable and her understanding of nature and the role of all creatures in the cycle of life help her come to terms with her sorrow and emotions.

An verse from Part III Life and Death:
“The nest was found
on the ground after the storm
nestlings didn’t make it
we mourned
fuzzy little creatures
oversized eyes
chests without air
buried with care
patting down soil
reminded me that we, too, will die …”

I have referred to the poet as the author because there is a lot of reflective prose in this book. Each poem is followed by a discussion which provides the poet’s inspiration for the poem, and includes quotes and information about birds and other aspects of life that contribute to the meaning behind the poem. I really enjoyed these explanatory sections and gleaned a lot of insight into the poet’s emotions and thought process from it.

Enjoyment of this book is certainly not limited to people who love birds as, in many instances, the birds are a metaphor for human life. This book will be enjoyed by all lovers of poetry.

Purchase Avian Friends

Amazon paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Avian-Friends-Yvette-Prior-Ph-D/dp/1973831228

Amazon kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Avian-Friends-Encouraging-inspired-Backyard-ebook/dp/B07QHNZF81

About Yvette Prior

Yvette Prior lives on the East Coast of the United States with her spouse, Chris, and together they have three adult children, two grandchildren, and no pets (after having many dogs over the years).

Yvette enjoys working with people and her varied work background includes education, social work, hospitality management, and lots of outreach. Her passion area is studying about health and wellness and after earning a Ph.D. in I-O Psychology, she poured into waiting book projects and she has not stopped writing since.

Her goal as a writer is to educate, edify, and encourage readers. Her personal blog can be found at priorhouse.wordpress.com

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.