Monday, October 27, 2014

Michigander Monday: Elinor Benedict

I'm pleased to welcome Elinor Benedict to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Elinor, please tell us a little about yourself.

Elinor:  I have about three states to my name now.  Born and grew up in East Tennessee, mountain country. Lived there until I married another Tennessean, Sam Benedict, and went to seek our fortune in Ohio until we moved with his company, Mead Paper Corp, which ultimately took us to Escanaba, Michigan, in the UP!

We've lived there for almost 40 years, so we are really Yoopers now. Except we now spend the winters in Florida. But most of my poems are about the UP. If you heard me talk, you'd say: "Why does she have a Southern accent?"  Now you know.

Debbie:  And please tell us about your books.

Elinor:  My first complete collection of poems (after some chapbooks) was All That Divides Us. It's about China and an aunt who married a Chinese man who was studying in America back in the 30's. So I have Chinese cousins, and the book is about how that is. Of course the book has a lot of history and cultural interplay in it. My second collection is about the Upper Peninsula mostly, and family.  It's called Late News from the Wilderness. Several kinds of wildernesses. I'm trying now to put together a third collection, probably called  Early Girl, if I last that long to put it together.

I don't want to forgot the most important thing--the forthcoming anthology Here, with work by UP women writers. What a dynamo that Ron Riekki is, who put the whole thing together in a work-intensive process!  I just got through going over the proof, and I think it will be a credit to our region and state--and anywhere.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Elinor:  I'm going to Florida in a few days for the winter. That doesn't mean I'm a turncoat. It means I'm getting old and need to avoid freezing. I have given a few readings there--but hope to work on the next book and not gallivant around too much.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Elinor:  My favorite bookstore is Canterbury Bookstore in Escanaba, but I hear there's a super  one up in Munising now--one that has a delightful ambience. The library in Escanaba is wonderful, though. It's got amazingly fine collections and personnel. Also they have sponsored readings from time to time.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Elinor:  Well, my home is my favorite location in Michigan. We're on the top of Lake Michigan and so we have water AND trees. The trees were beautiful here this fall--but winter is coming fast.

US Highway 2 and Interstate 75 all the way to the Ohio border.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Elinor:  Oh, yeah--when family (including Great-Grandaughter Norah) comes to visit us at our home, described above.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Elinor:  Wendy Irish is a good person to know. She just hiked the John Muir Trail (alone!) in California and is a true nature girl.  She now lives in Munising and is painting her house tomorrow.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Elinor:  There are a lot of different kind of scenes and places in Michigan, and lots of people from other places that live here now. Cities and wild lands both.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Elinor:  I am a mixed-breed. North and South. Maybe a Michi-goose. Something like that.

Debbie:  Elinor, we will add you to the Michi-goose column.  Thank you so much for joining us for Michi-goose Monday!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Using "Picture Day Perfection" in the classroom!

My and Dan Santat's book Picture Day Perfection is not just for Picture Day!

Picture Day Perfection is a fun story with an unexpected ending, and it's appropriate for all elementary school ages, including upper elementary.  (In fact, due to its subtle humor, it's particularly appealing to students in the 3rd through 5th grade range.)

Use of the story can be a launching point for a teaching lesson or other classroom activity, at any time during the year.  Possible classroom connections include reading, writing, technology, art, and more.

Resources for classroom use of the story include:

And some examples of real life classroom use of Picture Day Perfection include:
If you use Picture Day Perfection in your classroom, I'd love to hear about it!  Feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.  And if you blog or post to your web site about your classroom use, let me know so I can add your post to the list above.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Poetry Friday

I've heard zenos are all the rage right now, so I thought I'd try one.

October Celebration

Dropping down to dance on the lawn.
Bustling party,
room for
Sunny descent;
Each of the leaves
knows the

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pout-Pout Fish Costume Character visit this Monday 10/13! Tour wrap-up photos. Web site news. All in one overdue blog post.

Several bits of news to share:

First, for those of you in the Lansing area:  The costume character of The Pout-Pout Fish will be visiting the Okemos/Meridian Mall location of Schuler Books at 7 PM on Monday, October 13.  I'll be there as well to read The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School.  Bring your kids, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, and come get your photo taken with The Pout-Pout Fish!

Second, I'm pleased to let you know that my web site has recently had an overhaul.  If you want to take a look, it's at

Finally, I thought I'd share some of the photos that I took during the second half of my and Dan Hanna's recent book tour.  The second week of our travels took us to PS 31 in Brooklyn; the Flatiron Building in NYC (home of our publisher); Maderia Elementary in Cincinnati, OH; Elm Primary School in Wyoming, OH; Blue Manatee Books in Cincinnati; College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur; the WXIA TV studio in Atlanta; Glennwood Elementary in Decatur; Little Shop of Stories in Decatur; Discovery Place Kids in Rockingham, NC; Sandhills Classical Christian School in Southern Pines, NC; Country Bookshop in Southern Pines; Montessori School of Raleigh, NC; Millbrook Elementary in Raleigh; and Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.  A wonderful trip!