Here’s book 8 of the 10 Capstone poetry books I wrote in 2007. If you haven’t already heard about the overall process, and if you’re interested, you can read about it here.
After I finished A Fuzzy-Fast Blur: Poems About Pets, I moved on to the rain forest collection. This was another one I was looking forward to, largely because the images were almost all of animals or nature. I received the images on September 28, the same day I turned in A Fuzzy Fast-Blur, and I turned in the 23 rain forest poems on October 26. The fast pace was starting to wear on me, honestly. I mean, I loved writing the poems and was still excited about the project, but I think I was working under deadline on some nonfiction books at the same time, and that month just zoomed by!
I got Jenny’s revision notes about 2 weeks later. She had lots of great comments, both positive and negative. One general trend seemed to be that I had used a lot of higher level words/concepts. These poetry books were not written to any kind of reading list or specific reading level. So it was never a matter of, “You can’t use that. It’s a 4th-grade word.” Or anything like that. But the books were meant for 1st-2nd graders, and if there was an easier word that WORKED WELL, sometimes a substitution was in order.
For instance, in a poem about a cacoa tree and how chocolate is made, I had the line:
It has a strong and acrid taste
Jenny commented: ““bitter” has a much lower reading level
She was right. Bitter had the same meaning, the same meter, and worked better for this age audience. Easy change.
Other suggestions for revisions had to do more with the tone. The original version of a jaguar poem was:
[It’s not keeping its form on the page here.] Jenny thought the ending might be too scary for young kids, plus they might not know what a tapir was (and the picture only had the stalking jaguar, not any prey, in it). So we did end up ending the poem at POUNCE!
I revised many of the poems, some with just a word or two changing, others requiring complete overhauls! I turned in the revision four days after receiving her comments. There was just no time to ponder leisurely. I had already received the images for the transportation poems book, and I was writing that set of poems at the same time that I was revising these. It was poetry chaos!
Jenny ended up being very happy with the revision, and I really liked how the book came out. Since I have a rain forest ecosystem book out, too, I could, I guess, offer a fun school visit around this topic if I wanted to. Anyway, here are a couple more poems from the book. NOTE: These are NOT the images from the book. They’re just approximations to give you an idea.
I loved the image of a lemur mother with her young ones piled on her back. Probably feeling exasperated myself that day, I wrote:
A Lemur Mom in Madagascar
I searched all day for ripe papaya
So you could have your snack
I looked for slinky, sneaky snakes
To fight off an attack
You bickered all this afternoon,
I missed our well-worn track
We’re finally home; I need to rest—
So please, get off my back!
I got to do several humorous poems in here, including one about piranhas, another about monkey kids who only want to play, and another about the debatable handsomeness of the bearded pig (yikes!).
And of course I used many poetic forms. That’s one of my favorite things about these books, is including many basic poetic forms in each volume. It’s so fun to try to figure out which form best fits which image. I enjoyed the irony of a limerick about piranhas, for instance!
Here’s a shape poem, though the shape isn’t staying consistent for me!
The book ended up being called Chatter, Sing, Roar, Buzz: Poems About the Rain Forest. I’m hoping it will introduce lots of kids to new animals and to an appreciation of both poetry and the natural world!