Do Grownups Color As They Read?


Three year-old Grace came dashing into my studio like a clog dancer.

Dressed in summer shorts and a crop top, I could tell she was upset by the stomping

of her cowboy boots on the tile floor.







I’m a children’s writer and I guess to young Gracie, I would know the answer.

Yes, I thought of saying, readers add the colors to our books. When writers write, and readers read they enter into a contract. The writer puts the words down on the page, trying to tell a story. Then the reader comes along and gives meaning to the words. It is the connections and links that the reader brings to the story that give meaning and add color to the words. But how do I explain this to a three year-old so that she can understand? It is the writer’s job to build bridges that let the reader enter into the story, to develop empathy for the characters and to understand the change that happens to the main character and feel the struggles the character has gone through. Oh yes, adults add the color to books as we read them. But, I had a hunch from her stomping this wasn’t really the question Gracie was asking.

I picked her up, sat her in my lap.

“What do you mean, Gracie? Do you want to tell me about it?”

“Donnie said I couldn’t color the page in my coloring book that I wanted to. I want to color the princess having a tea party with the fairies, but he says I have to color one page at a time, front to back—that’s how grownups read a story. He took my crayons and broke them because I wouldn’t color the next page with a dumb old prince.”

“He wanted to tell you how to read a book?”

“Yes, and that isn’t right!”

“Nope, you should be able to read a book anyway you want. Would a box of colored pencils help?”

“Yes, thank you,” Gracie said as she rushed out of my studio.

Is it afternoon nap time yet? I want to dream about the color readers add to my stories.

Ho-pe ole

I have a blog I write for children on it I include a poem a day with a daily challenge for kids to write their own poems.  Since I moved to Kauai in December, it has been difficult for me to keep up my daily routine.  But I keep trying to get back to my regular schedule.  I usually end the post with an inspirational message or some up-lifting quotation.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about adding a Hawaiian word before the quotation to help me learn the language of my new home.  I use A Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language by Lorrin Andrews. Yesterday as I was thumbing through the book, I was in the letter “H”.  I came across the word hope. In Hawaiian this would be pronounced ho (like a rake) pay (like a check.) This is a noun meaning the end or beginning of a thing; the termination of an extremity; the finishing result or termination of a course of conduct.

Hope can also mean the end of one’s life, death.  Hope ole means endless. Thus the circle of life is endless.

The word Hope in English translates into Hawaiian as manao lana.  The thing I think fascinating about this dictionary is that it links many of the words to Bible verses.  The verse for endless is Romans 9:18, and the verse for hope is Hebrews 9:26.

I have a friend who is writing a memoir about the death of her young daughter.  When I asked her about her writing, she mentioned she was writing the book to give hope to other families who have gone through the same thing.  As I was reading the dictionary and going back and forth to the Bible verses, it was like a light bulb went off for me.  My friend’s words slowly made more sense.  Having hope means death is a beautiful concept.

I hope if you are struggling with the death of someone you love that you’ll be able to find the hope in your life to carry yourself forward.





2016 Progressive Poem

2016 Kidlit Progressive Poem

Welcome to Day 2 of the 2016 Progressive Poem.  Each year Irene Latham of Live Your Poem, invites poets to her own poetry festivities to help develop and build a progressive poem for National Poetry Month.  Each of 30 different poets supplies a line on their assigned day to cumulatively create the poem.

Yesterday the talented Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids started us off with a rousing first line.

A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky

I’m so excited about this line.  A beautifully written first line in perfect iambic measures.  I love her use of squall. The alliteration of squall (a word that can also be used as a verb,)the verb stir, and sky echoes in my ear.  So my challenge is to keep to her rhythm.  Four iambic beats. And can I repeat her elegant dance steps?  My mind immediately went to the opposite of  that strong powerful hawk to the most delicate and fragile of birds.

a hummingbird holds and then hies

So, there you have it, the first two lines.  Looks like the beginning of a list poem to me, and I think we are foregoing punctuation at this point. There are still plenty of days and tons of possibilities.  For now, at least we are through the first call and response. And I can toss this creation over to the dedicated Doraine Bennett for Sunday.


A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky

a hummingbird holds and then hies


Here is the list of all the poets who are participating this month.


2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Diane at Random Noodling
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
11 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
12 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
13 Linda at TeacherDance
14 Jone at Deo Writer
16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly
17 Kim at Flukeprints
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Charles at Poetry Time
21 Jan at Bookseedstudio
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Mark at Jackett Writes
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
30 Donna at Mainely Write


The BIG Move

If you didn’t know, over the Christmas holiday we moved to the island of Kauai.  I told my friends this move is probably the biggest project I have ever taken on.  All our possessions were loaded into a Matson shipping container and delivered to our new house.

The container was unloaded on Jan. 3 and 4.  Since then I have been unpacking boxes and boxes. My husband counted the boxes on Tuesday.

“There are still over 100 boxes to be emptied,” he told me.  So I keep opening and emptying boxes.  Then I flatten the cardboard to take to the recycling center.  So many boxes.

Today I stopped long enough to put some new blinds in the window where my desk sits.  This took the drill to make pilot holes for the screws.  My husband bought himself a new drill for Christmas, so I wasn’t exactly sure if I could, or how to use this one.  It took me a while to find the 1/16th drill bit the instructions recommended.  Sure wish I could have found the screw head for the drill so I could have used it to tighten the screws, but I didn’t.  I followed the directions to the letter, pausing several times to try and figure out the drawings that came with the blinds.  Each of the screws, 8 of them, had to be hand tightened with a phillips head screw driver.  This wasn’t exactly easy since I needed to apply pressure to the screws and did I mention I broke my wrist in Oct. at the start of our move?  It was painful trying to turn the screws and I had to take several breaks.  Maybe that was why I read the directions so many times.

Finally, after about three hours, I got the job done.  I like the way the blinds look in my window.  I’m proud of myself for figuring out how to do this.  And now I’m thinking the other two windows in my studio would look really good if they had the same blinds too.

Maybe when I go into town to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles to get a new Hawaiian driver’s license, I’ll stop at the hardware store to see if they have the blinds I need.

Living in paradise, everyday is a new adventure.


An abecedarian is a special kind of alphabetic acrostic poem.  It uses the letters of the alphabet to tell a story.  Each line of the poem begins with a successive letter of the alphabet.  This form is frequently used for children’s picture books Perhaps one of the most famous abecedarian poems is Psalm 119 from the Bible which uses 22 octave stanzas to cover the Hebrew alphabet.  The Japanese have a form, the Iroha mojigusari, which has the line begin with the first letter and then end with the second letter of the alphabet. So, Lesson 2 in the poetry challenge from our Blogging University course featured the prompt word GIFT.  It was suggested that the poem be an acrostic (it didn’t have to be an abecedarian), and include a simile.  So here is my poem.


Annually, the whole family


Comes together like two

Dozen ditzy

Entertainers at a

Fun party to play

Games.  We

Have cake and

Ice cream with

Jimmies and fudge sauce. Mom


Licking the



Off her

Pinkie finger.  She’s

Queen of the day

Receiving  company,


Tail relatives who carry

Under an arm,

Violins, (fiddles) banjos, guitars and Uncle

Willy has his mouth harp to

eXpress his happiness,

Yearning to celebrate young

Zoe’s birthday with a musical gift.


across moonlit sands

track the desert coyotes

Cree forefathers watch

I’ve signed up for the Blogging University Poetry 201 course through WordPress.  The first assignment is to write a haiku.  At night as Iie in bed and listen to the coyotes sing in their long yip,yip, yap, yipee song, I think about that same song being sung for generations and wonder about the relationship between the coyotes and the Indians.


Every morning I walk two miles with my husband.  It is good exercise and it is also a great time for meditation or creative visualization.
Since I live in Tucson, AZ it can get pretty hot very early, so as the summer rolls around we get up earlier and earlier to get our walk in before the heat of the day.
I’ve seen some pretty spectacular sunrises over our desert.  But this morning as I was walking, I was thinking that it is the sunsets that are more often spectacular than sunrises.  They’re filled with beautiful, vibrant colors.  The purples, reds and oranges are an inspiration.
This got me to thinking about sunsets every where and how some people pause to look for the green flash at sunset and how drinks in the evening when folks pause are called sundowners.  I came to the conclusion that the beauty of sunset is far greater than the sunrise and it made me question that metaphor of a sunset and our sunset years.  Is that time (our sunset years) not meant to be richer, more fulfilling–just a lot more fun than those early growth years?  Perhaps that sunset is a promise from some higher being that our later years will be the best years.  That our lives are meant to be filled with rich colors and rich experiences.
And the best is yet to be.

Just something to think about.