Saturday, April 30, 2011


I'm rather fond of trees, and also rather fond of taking photos of trees.  So I very much enjoyed the blog post over at Daily Cognition of the "10 Most Extraordinary Trees In The World."  Some pretty amazing trees!

Though really, I think all trees are pretty amazing.

Poem #30

It's Like Poetry

Yeah, well,

I've really got

no clue what I'm doing.

But I don't let that stop me from


Friday, April 29, 2011

The Pout-Pout Fish on Facebook

In case you didn't know, The Pout-Pout Fish has his own page over on FaceBook.  In addition to periodic updates about Mr. Fish, you'll find photos like this:

and this:

So, if you're on FaceBook, be sure to stop by Mr. Fish's page!

Poem #29

The Puddle

While the

water waits to

get back to work, a small

pair of boots runs up to teach it

to play.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Apparently there's some big wedding coming up...

Can't say I have any interest in the whole Royal Wedding thing, but I ran across this and thought it was neat:

The Friends of Hackley Public Library in Muskegon are hosting a "Royal Breakfast" wedding-watching party as a fundraiser for the children's department of the Hackley Public Library.

According to an article in the Muskegon News, Friends President Kathleen Snider says that the children's department badly needs repairs:  "Let the call go out to help the children, and we’ll all put on our hats and gloves, even if we have to borrow them, and we’ll be there.”

Ticket information and more details are available here.

Poem #28

After The Storm

A small

happy ending

before life carries on:

don't count colors -- just call it a


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Beat "Read In The Park" Event

Book Beat, an indie bookstore in Oak Park, is teaming up with Berkley Schools for a Read in the Park event on Sunday, May 1st from 1-3 PM at the Collaborative Center at Berkley High School (2325 Catalpa, at 11 and 1/2 mile East of Coolidge facing Catalpa).

It's a free, fun and community wide celebration of books and reading for children, young adults and their families.

This year’s "Read in the Park" falls on El día de los niños/El día de los libros, The International Day of the Child and Day of the Book, a day recognized by the United Nations.

1:15 PM: Wong Herbert Yee
1:40 PM: Bryan Chick
2:05 PM: Vordak with Scott Seegert and John Martin
2:30 PM: Natalie Taylor

For more details, head over to The Book Beat's event page.

Poem #27


Front porch

with coffee and

clear morning mind.  Some days,

most everything seems possible.

And is.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We have winners in the Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade giveaway!

Those of you who entered my book giveaway drawing celebrating the First Birthday of The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade...

For a list of the winners, go to the original post and scroll to the bottom for the winners' list.

Thank you to all who entered!

Poem #26

This Year

I will

stop and breathe the

fine pink glory of the

crab tree before its petals fall


Monday, April 25, 2011

Of Interest To Petoskey Area Teachers

If you're a teacher or educator in the Petoskey area, you might be interested in knowing about McLean and Eakin's "Educators' Afternoon" this coming Friday, April 29, from 4-6 PM.  There will be refreshments, give-aways, hand-outs, and time to talk to other teachers. At 5 PM, local author Chris Weston will have a presentation with classroom ideas for grades K-8.

The event is free but space is limited, so call to reserve a spot:  231-347-1180.  For  more info, click here.

Poem #25


With my

window open

on a warm spring night, I

can eavesdrop on the Twitter feed

of frogs.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Poem #24


I put

my pen down and

watch.  I can write all I

want, but really my kids are the


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Poem #23

Daydream II


it up to the

sky.  Surrender it down

to the ground.  Splendor sure knows how

to dance.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sick of Cinquains Yet?

22 down, 8 to go:  As most of you know, I've been celebrating National Poetry Month by experimenting with the poetry form of the cinquain (using the 2/4/6/8/2 syllable format), sharing daily poems here and tweeting them as part of #LONpoem.  Can't say that I've been thrilled by my output, but of the 22 so far (and the 8 to go) there are 1.5 that I like, kindasorta.  Not bad stats, all things considered.

Other than the poems...  As usual, I'm way behind on lots of things I could or should be blogging about.  Until I get caught up (estimated time of "being caught up" = Year 2028, give or take a decade), I thought I'd pop on briefly and say that my giveaway winner (for a free, signed copy of The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade) will be announced shortly.  Thanks for your patience!

Poem #22



of clouds in the

big, blue sky.  Jumble of

thoughts in the wide, thick mind.  Stumble...

...then fly.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Poem #21

The Two Of Them

Love wrapped

in a cyclone.

Colliding.  Competing.

But certain of one another.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Poem #20


The storm

came through at four,

passed by five; so maybe

not everyone noticed.  But, yes:

I did.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Poem #19


I've a

tender spot for

snowdrops and crocuses.

But only daffodils can make

me cry.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Poem #18


Of course

there's much to be

lost in a poor choice but

sadly something goes in the good

ones too.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Still time to win a free, signed book!

Today's the last day to enter my giveaway for a free, signed copy of The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby BrigadeClick here and add your name to the comments to be entered to win.

The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade is a rhyming children's picture book story written by yours truly and illustrated by Tracy Dockray.  It's a funny and silly tale about a bunch of babies who get sick and tired of mashed peas, baths, naps, and having their photos taken, so they go on a protest crawl!  Yelling and near-bedlam ensue.  But it's got a happy ending and is really a sentimental story in disguise about how fast bad-tempered babies grow up.

Great fun for elder siblings of much-fussed-over new babies, the book also makes a terrific baby shower gift (especially for brand new parents who have no idea what they're getting into!).

So sign up!  You might just win.

Poem #17

Late Afternoon

Look, there:

The cat has found

all she was looking for,

hidden in a carpeted patch

of sun.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Poem #16


As if

the sun could speak,

it whispers its way up

the horizon and then trumpets,

"I'm here!"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poem #15

Looking Out

The man

stands alone at

the fenceline and becomes

an accidental silhouette

at dusk.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Poem #14



by breakfast crumbs,

the wobbly table creaks

and sways.  Its white round ring stains are


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Interview with Bess the Book Bus!

Today is National Bookmobile Day!  In celebration, I'm excited to feature a very special mobile book vehicle:  Bess the Book Bus.

I interviewed Jennifer Frances, the force behind Bess the Book Bus, as well as Bess the Book Bus herself.

Debbie:  Tell us a little about how Bess the Book Bus got started.

Jennifer:  I started Bess the Book Bus about 8 years ago. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity in Tampa. When I couldn't find a good fit, I started journaling. I was really bummed that I couldn't find a place to volunteer. During one of my 3 am journaling sessions, Bess came to me. I call it the pull of the moon. She came in with her name and everything, She is named after my Nana Bess, who my cousin used to call Nana Bus because he couldn't say Bess.

Debbie:  What sort of literacy and outreach work do you and Bess do in the Tampa area?

Jennifer:  We do interactive read-alouds at Title 1 schools, shelters, after school programs and Head Starts. Afterwards the kids get to come out and get on the bus where they pick a new book to take home every time. We gave away 66,500 books last year and over 250,000 so far.

Debbie:  Wow!  Those are some amazing and inspiring statistics!  Will Bess the Book Bus be traveling nationally again this year?

Jennifer:  We will be leaving for our 44 state six month Success is in Sight tour on April 30th. We are so excited. We will revisit a lot of our kids from 2009 and 2010. We will also visit several new states. We hope to give away 75,000 books this year.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite moment or memory from past years' trips?

Jennifer:  Last year in Harlem a little boy who had seen us on TV asked me if I was real. Apparently he thought I was a person in a book lady suit. In LA in 2009 a kid told me that I was going to give a lot of people the book habit. I love traveling and meeting these kids. They are just so wonderful. We travel with Transitions Lenses and VSP as well. It is a joy to see our kids that need new glasses get them at our events. I can't wait for you to see that in Detroit.

Debbie:  I'm looking forward to that, too!  Jennifer, how can folks help with or support your efforts?

Jennifer:  Luckily, Citgo is providing our fuel through their Fueling Good program. We do still need help with food gift cards to feed our volunteers. Any amount helps. We are fortunate enough to have friends to stay with in many areas, but food and lodging are our biggest expenses. We do accept PayPal on our website at We can purchase three new books from First Book for a little over a dollar, so cash donations are a big help too. We are going to need a lot of books in each state. Luckily Townsend Press, Capstone Publishers and Candlewick are helping out a lot. So are our local booksellers. Books from First Book are always great though.

Debbie:  Now, some questions for Bess the Book Bus.  How many books can you hold?

Bess:  We can carry about 3,000 books on the shelves. We often carry back-up of 2,000 with us.

Debbie:  How many tires do you have?

Bess:  4

Debbie:  Any spares?

Bess: 1

Debbie:  Potholes: aggravation or adventure?

Bess:  Both. They can shake books off the shelves causing what I call a bookalanche. It also loosens the shelves, so we try to avoid them.

Debbie:  Carwashes: chore or joy?

Bess:  JOY!!!
Debbie:  Favorite road to travel on?

Bess:  We love to travel. Hwy 101 is great. We don't see that one much. Really any road that takes us to kids is great.

Debbie:  Do you ever get bored of traveling?

Bess:  We have gone over 30,000 miles and I have not been bored yet. Tired sometimes, but never bored. This is the most exciting thing that I can think of to do.

Debbie:  How loud is your horn?

Bess:  It is not very loud. A friend of mine wants to give me a train horn. I am also getting a CB! Oh, and AC. I finally get AC this year.

Debbie:  Have you ever let the pigeon drive?

Bess:  The Pigeon always drives the bus. It is the only bus in the world that he is allowed to drive, and we love having him at the wheel. The kids are always glad to see him. Again, the Pigeon dives the bus, so how could we ever be bored?

Debbie:  With the pigeon at the wheel and several thousand books on board, no one could ever be bored!

Jennifer and Bess, thank you so much for being here today.  More importantly, thank you for all that you're doing to bring books to kids.  Safe travels to you, and I look forward to meeting you in June!

For more information about Bess the Book Bus, click here.

Poem #13

Another Spring

The mud

of spring arrives

on two pair of shoes that

aren't nearly as small as they used

to be.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Poem #12


Gray day.

Thick clouds.  Rain shrouds.

Steady dismal drizzle.

But for the robin?  Best.  Breakfast.


Monday, April 11, 2011

A Good Reason To Celebrate

Extensive research (i.e. two minutes with Google) tells me that today is National Cheese Fondue Day, Dandelion Day, Eight Track Tape Day, National Submarine Day, Barbership Quartet Day, and International "Louie Louie" Day.

And those are all great reasons to celebrate.

But I'll give you an even better one:

Today is the birthday of the most wonderful lady I know.  And she just so happens to be my Mom!

Happy Birthday, Mom!  I love you.

Poem #11

Early April


on the front porch --

eyes closed, nose warm, hands still:

winter's dark is forgiven by

spring sun.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Poem #10


The kids

grow taller.  We

look on with pride and fear.

We step back and bump into -- oh,

it's you!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Poem #9

9 down, 21 to go!  April is National Poetry month, and this year I'd doing 30 cinquins (2/4/6/8/2 format) to celebrate.  Here goes with #9...

Chickenscratch At Dawn

Oh, what

word did I mean?

My midnight brainstorm is

lost.  But, for a flash, the words were

just right.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Poem #8

Reckoning at 43


like an old map

that the cartographer

forgot to label, in fact, they're

my hands.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This & That Thursday: Stretches, Tweetpoems, Bookmobiles, and More

Yes, it was Wednesday yesterday, so, yeah, there shoulda been a Wednesday Workout DVD Review. But there wasn’t. Reason being?   ohsosorry – …but it’s spring break! I’ve been far too busy taking it easy, and notfeelingguiltyatallaboutit. A gal’s gotta decompress, yes? Which means a (temporary) farewell to blogging.

But in lieu of a review, here’s a quick workout tip: For workouts with inadequate, tacked-on stretching at the end, when you get to the stretching part put your DVD on 4x slow. (Check your remote - you've more than likely got that option on one of those many buttons you usually ignore.)  What you lose in soundtrack (it’s gone) you gain in appropriately paced stretching (give those muscles time to lengthen!). Yup, ya heard it here first. You and your elongated muscles can thank me later, dahlinks.

What else is up? Well, I’m excited to be re-energized about revision to a longish manuscript (i.e. not a picture book) that's been languishing in a drawer for a while. Having friends who are writers is so crucial to being a writer! Two hours of conversation with a writer pal of mine earlier this week re-invigorated me about a tough revision. I actually think I can do it! Here’s to optimism, however briefly it may last…

As for other writing news? The poems continue. Thanks for putting up with them. In celebration of National Poetry month (the month of April), I’ve been doing a cinquain a day, and tweeting them as well (hashtag LONpoem, as part of Lansing Online News’s tweetpoems). It’s been a good experience (for me) and a great reason to look forward to May (for the rest of you). Here’s to 3 more weeks of poems! Take heart -- May is not that far off...

And as far as Michigan KidLit? Don’t forget that there’s a great panel at one of the AADL branches tonight. What a fabulous line-up: The one and only Shutta! The Steads! And much more! You should definitely go. Details here.

And other Michigan KidLit news? Lots of Michigan authors on the recently released Bank Street 2011 Best Children's Books of the Year lists, including Ruth McNally Barshaw (Best Friends Fur-Ever), Buffy Silverman (Can An Old Dog Learn New Tricks), and Boni Ashburn (Over At The Castle), plus Sue Stauffacher, Nic Bishop, Susan Kathleen Hartung, Cyd Moore, Lynne Rae Perkins, David Small, and Erin and Philip Stead.  All I can say is:  Yay, Michigan!  Truly, we've an abundance of kidlit talent here in our state.  Represent!

And in non-kidlit MichLit news? Those of you in the Lansing area, be sure to make plans to go to the Night for Notables on May 7.  It's an event put on by the Library of Michigan Foundation to celebrate the Michigan Notable Books.  If you're not familiar with the Library of Michigan Foundation, they sponsor terrific programs including Michigan Reads and Michigan Notable Books.  Admittedly I'm not entirely unbiased, given that my and Dan Hanna's book The Pout-Pout Fish was the 2009 Michigan Reads selection; but even if this weren't the case, I'd be a big supporter of the Foundation's efforts to support early childhood literacy as well as to support Michigan's overall culture of reading and books.  A state that reads together is a state that leads together!, so supporting a culture of reading and books is crucial to the wellbeing of our peninsulas.  On this front, we should all be thankful for the Library of Michigan Foundation!

Dunno yet which of the Notable authors* will be at the Night for Notables, but if you're planning on going check the Notables Books page periodically as I'm sure that info will be listed on the MDE site as the event gets closer.  Click here for contact info for ticket details for the May 7 event.  Also, I think the Notable authors all do a few tour stops during the spring; click here to see who'll be in your neck of the woods this spring.  One way or the other, you've got lots of opportunities to show your support for MichiganLit!  Be sure to take advantage of it.

And finally, last but not least… I have a really fun Q and A with a very special guest next lined up for next Wednesday... which just so happens to be National Bookmobile Day!  Be sure to stop back, as you'll enjoy the interview.  As a teaser, let me say that it's the first time I've ever interviewed a bus.

Intrigued?  Come on back next week for the post!

In the meantime...  As always, thanks for stopping by here. I know there's much to do in the blogosphere, so I greatly appreciate you spending a bit of time here.  I wish you all Happy Reading, Happy Writing, and a Very Happy April!

*2011 Michigan Notable Books authors:

Godfrey J. Anderson (A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts the Bolsheviks); Martha Aladjern Bloomfield (The Sweetness of Freedom); Michael Erlewine (Blues in Black and White); Michael R. Federspiel (Picturing Hemingway’s Michigan); John Gallagher (Reimagining Detroit); Lawrence M. Glazer (Wounded Warrior); Raymond Goodwin (Sawdusted); Jaimy Gordon (Lord of Misrule); Bryan Gruley (The Hanging Tree); Alison K. Hoagland (Mine Towns); D.E. Johnson (The Detroit Electric Scheme); Laura Kasischke (Eden Springs); Steve Lehto (Chrysler’s Turbine Car); M.L. Liebler (Working Words); Thomas Lynch (Apparition and Late Fictions); Andrew Moore (Detroit Disassembled); Stephen Garr Ostrander (The Sweetness of Freedom); Adam Schuitema (Freshwater Boys); Heather Sellers (You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know); Alex Taylor III (Sixty to Zero); and William C. Whitbeck (To Account for Murder).
For detailed book info, click here.

Poem #7

Another April cinquain...

Cardinal Sings

I see

a bright red dot

up in the bare-branched tree:

Nice of him to belt out a song

for me!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poem #6

I'm continuing with my April project of a cinquain-a-day (using the 2/4/6/8/2 cinquain format); the poems are cross-posted to Twitter as part of Lansing Online News's National Poetry Month Poem/a/day (hashtag LONpoem).  I'm hit-or-miss as far as poem quality, but I've been having fun with the process.  Here's the 6th in the series.



ants move about

in their underground world.

Meanwhile, worms, eyeless, turn remnants

to soil.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Poem #5

Center Line

My eyes

on the road, I

rarely look too closely.

But today, a tiny stiff paw

slows me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Michigan Kidlit Happenings

Michigan is full of children's literature talent, and it's also a definite hotspot for children's lit happenings!  Here are a couple of upcoming events you might be interested in:

Chris Van Allsburg will be visiting Book Beat on Wednesday, April 6.  For details, click here.  And he'll be at the 28th Street Schuler Books on April 9.  For details, click here.

On Thursday, April 7 at the Traverwood Branch, the Ann Arbor District Library and the Women's National Book Association are hosting a panel, "Publishing Children's Books:  The Dirty Truth."  Moderated by Dr. Harry Eiss, the panel will feature Erin and Philip Stead, Shutta Crum, Heather Hughes, Colleen Kammer, and Marian Nelson.  Sure to be a delightful evening!  For details, click here.

These are just a few of the many, many kidlit things going on in Michigan.  Feel free to add additional events in the comments, or email them to me at deborah [at] deborahdiesen [dot] come, and I'll do my best to highlight them!

Poem #4


I stand

in the basement.

If laundry really were

a mountain, would my yodeling

be heard?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Poem #3


Rise up

from raw root ruts.

Oh tulips, be brave now!

From your deep down dawn darknesses

comes spring.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Today's Rally of Writers

I had a wonderful time today at A Rally of Writers! The Rally is an annual event, now in its 24th year. I’d definitely recommend it – it’s a great conference.

The day kicked off with keynote speaker Jef Mallett, writer and illustrator of Frazz. He gave a very inspiring talk about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and about the importance of having a “life” from which to draw your creative work.

I then attended Anne-Marie Oomen’s “Firework Seeds,” a session of poetry prompts, which I very much enjoyed. We did some guided hands-on writing. Great session.

At lunch, we heard Bonnie Jo Campbell speak. Bonnie Jo is a very engaging and fun person to hear speak. I could listen to her talk all day. She answered a variety of questions from the audience, and we all left with lots of writing information and inspiration (as well as the knowledge of the best treats to feed donkeys).

I then attended a great session by Lev Raphael on creating amateur sleuths in mysteries. I doubt I’ll ever write a mystery, but I love to read them, so I figured I’d enjoy the session (which I did) and also learn a thing or two (ditto!). A wonderfully relaxed and informative session.

For the last session of the day, I went to Diane Seuss’s poetry session, on “how to get bigger, better, wilder, and truer on the page!” Though I doubt I’ll ever manage wild on the page, I left feeling more confident about how I can push my attempts at poetry closer to what they might be.

In short, a great day.

In the spirit of the day – that of stretching and growing and risking as a writer --I’ll share with you here a few of the exercises I did.

In Anne-Marie Oomen’s session, she had us write a poem using Eve Merriam’s “How To Eat A Poem” as a model. What else might we eat? Here’s mine:

How To Eat Indecision

Don’t decide.

Pick a cloud of moderate size

and watch it cross the sky.

It’s just a bunch of water droplets.

Did you not know that?  Did you forget?

Mist.  A mound of fog.

You do not need a flowchart

or bullet points

or columns on a page.

There is white. And there is blue.

And there you are:

You are done.

Not much of a poem, but there’s great value using existing poems as models for writing stretches. It’s something I should try more often.

The other modeled poem exercise I wrote was modeled on George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From.” Here’s my exercise results:

Where I’m From

I am from split levels and sidewalks,

from walking to school with my homework done.

I am from vegetables pushed around on my plate

and dropped to the dog.

I am from Lite Brite and Shrinky Dinks and

Brady Bunch reruns.

I am from neighbors with names,

from unfenced backyards

with small wild thickets,

and from leaf piles each fall.

I am from mosquito trucks driving through summer

at 2 AM, the sound of their spray scarcely heard

over the attic fan.

In my closet, under the false bottom of the floor,

were my notebooks, my dentist office prizes,

and a pair of floral pants long outgrown.

I am from four levels,

from three flights of stairs,

and from two steps to outside.

Finally, though it wasn’t from an exercise, this bit of writing was inspired by Diane Seuss’s session:

How I Get There


toward the things I

haven’t yet done, the work

of keeping eyes open opens

my eyes.

All in all, a fun and inspiring experience.  For those of us foolish enough to embrace the activity of writing, every day is like starting over at the beginning.  It's sometimes joyful, sometimes terrifying, and often both at once.  But I can't imagine life without writing.  It was reassuring and inspiring to be amongst others who feel similarly.  So to all of you:  Be brave.  Be joyful.  And Write On!

Poem #2

More of my 30 cinquains in 30 days April Poetry postings.  For details, click here.  Now, for today's poem...



dawns frostily.

Winter clings to the lawn.

But the birds count its numbered days

in song.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Poem #1

April is National Poetry Month.  To celebrate, I'll be posting an original poem each day.  This year I'm trying my hand at cinquains.  Can't promise any of them will be any good, but too bad, I'm going to write and post them anyway.  :)  I'll also be tweeting the poems as part of #LONpoem.  Here goes with the first...

Breakfast at 9


gone, the syrup

puddle tempts my son to

forget his manners.  Happily...

he does.