Do Buses Eat Kids? Poems About School


Here’s the next book in my series of 6 Capstone poetry books.

I wrote this collection after And Then There Were Eight: Poems About Space. I had requested this theme of school poems to be kind of near the end of the set of six because I had a feeling it might be kind of tough. And it was.

I am most inspired by outside images, moments captured in nature. Obviously, school pictures were not going to contain a lot of those! And on top of that, many of the photos had children in them. Children with faces, with expressions on those faces. I completely struggled with those images and used as few as possible! I know some people would feel just as hamstrung by a picture of a volcano, just as restricted. But I always feel like I can create whatever mood I want for a nature image. With kids, however, their mood is already evident, and then my poem becomes stilted, some kind of explanation for their joy, sadness, or whatever. I just don’t do that very well!

Luckily, even though there were kids in many of the images, there were also bright, evocative objects I could focus on: a globe, lockers, a school bus, a skeleton, a beaker of fizzing chemicals! Those were things I could sink my linguistic teeth into.

So I set to work, writing 26 poems. I actually only had to turn in 16–17 poems for each collection, because they only had room for about 13–14 in each book. But I always turned in all the poems I wrote, so that my editor would have more to choose from to create the best, most balanced collection possible.

My feedback from Jenny said, in part: Many of the poems are exactly what we had in mind, but there are a few others that may need some tweaking. Take a look at my feedback (I think I wrote a bit more than usual?just trying to be helpful!)

Jenny is a wonderful, tactful editor.

One poem I wrote was a kind of best friend quiz that one girl might pass to another. Jenny said: This is so cute, fun, and realistic?maybe too realistic! It’s actually so much like a kid’s note that readers may not be satisfied with classifying this as a poem?! (Also, I guess librarians tend to dislike it when books invite the kids to write in them [?check one?]!) Is there another way to do this? We love the title and the content, so I hope it can be altered. (If not, I’ll understand.)

For another poem, I wrote in response to an image of a girl with a globe.

My initial poem was:


Finding My Place


Where will I go?

Who will I be?

The answer’s a seed

That’s growing in me



Will I explore?

See foreign lands?

My future’s right here

the world’s in my hands

Jenny rightly pointed out the cliches:

Some of these ideas seemed very familiar to me when talking about children’s potential’saying the world is in their hands, or comparing the situation to a seed that will grow. Still, one of my readers pointed out that, to a child, these ideas may be new. So this poem may be alright, as-is. What do you think?

I responded:

I agree, Jenny, these are two time-worn metaphors for the potential of kids.  I do like both of them in theory, but maybe it’s overkill to have them both in one poem?  I’ve tweaked the first verse a bit?Do you think that gets rid of some of the clich’d feeling?

Here’s the revision, which did make it into the book:

Finding My Place


Where will I go?

Who will I be?

How will I love?

What will I see?


Will I go far?

Explore foreign lands?

I get to choose;

the world’s in my hands.

A couple of the poems that didn’t make it into the book are on my website. You can read them by clicking on the small pictures of the globe and the basketball.

Here are two other poems from the collection:

Friend Quiz     [note: I removed the “Check the answer” directions!]

My best friend in the world is you
So you should know which things are true

What’s my favorite color?

Blue as the sky in September?
Green as the grass Daddy mows?
Purple like lilacs that bloom in the spring?
Or silver like when the moon glows?

What’s my favorite subject?

Math, for counting up numbers?
Reading, for stories and words?
Music, for singing and whistling tunes?
Or science, for coloring birds?

Who’s my best friend?

The girl who lent me her sneakers?
Who calle me when I had the flu?
Who likes to make lizards from sparkling beads?
Wait! All of these people are you!


Black tube hiding
Inside yellow wrapping
Leaves a trail of letters, stories,


Overall, I’m pleased with the way the collection came out. It’s so nice to look at a fresh, colorful book, and not have it be obvious (I hope) that parts of it were a struggle!

That’s all my Capstone books except my color one, which I’m still waiting on author copies of. Hopefully soon!


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