Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Best of TLD, 2016

Tada! Isn't it adorable? 

Next month I look forward to celebrating the publication of our latest group effort, which includes 75 poems by 50 DMC poets. But today I'd like to focus on Teresa Robeson, who designed such a delightful cover.


Teresa Robeson is an author/illustrator who considers herself an author first—she has been writing professionally since 1991. Her poems, stories, and essays have appeared in magazines like Babybug, Ladybug, and Outdoor Indiana, and her speculative fiction appears in the Minnows Literary Group anthologies, where 100% of profits are donated to Doctors Without Borders. Teresa credits her "total nerd/geek-girl status" (her love of science fiction, science, and modern fantasy) to viewing the first lunar landing as a young child and being raised on a healthy dose of Star Trek. She credits her life-long love of children's literature to having never really grown up. Earlier this year, Teresa was competitively selected for a We Need Diverse Books mentorship with none other than Jane Yolen, so no matter where her interests take her, we can expect great things to come!

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Vancouver, and currently living on a Midwest homestead, Teresa has led an interesting life enriched by assorted hobbies and artistic pursuits. You can catch glimpses of these talents by visiting her two blogs: One Good Thing (where she posts her daily doodles) and Growing, Writing, Creating (where she posts about creative endeavors on the homestead). 

I'm not sure whether I was first introduced to Teresa's art or her writing, but I suspect it was probably her art that I first fell in love with on Facebook. I do recall what a pleasant surprise it was to receive her DMC poem, "The AfterMATH," two years ago. That poem now appears in The Best of Today's Little Ditty, 2014-2015. Her poem "Elevation" was featured on the blog in May 2017, and you'll find "Win-Win" included in The Best of Today's Little Ditty, 2016.

I've invited Teresa to answer a few questions so you, too, can get to know this warmhearted, talented, and hardworking artist and writer.

Welcome, Teresa!

Artistic wannabes like myself tend to think that artists are born with a paintbrush in their hand (or at least a crayon). But surprisingly, you came to illustration much later. How did you come to recognize and nurture your drawing talents?

Art was never something I was interested in as a kid. I have a vivid memory of being in kindergarten feeling annoyed at being forced to paint something. I thought the easel with a blank piece of paper attached to it was rather lovely and didn’t need me to mar its zen-ness.

The first time I began to realize I might have some talent was when I took an art class in 11th grade. It was there that I discovered how much I love doing portraits. For several years I combined that love with my then-hockey obsession. I drew portraits of the players from the Vancouver Canucks and got them to autograph them. That was fun!  

Signed portrait of Rick Lanz  © T. Robeson
But because I was interested in science, I didn’t do much with art except dabble in it.

The second time I realized I did have talent was when I took an art class for non-art majors at the University of Delaware where hubby was working on his Ph.D. The instructor, Bill Mammarella, was knowledgeable, engaging, and kind to all of us noobs, offering us a lot of constructive comments to help us learn and enjoy the process. He never singled me out for praise in class, but one day I was the last to leave class and a bunch of art majors had come in to hang out with him. He gestured to me as I said goodbye and told them that they should be thankful I wasn’t an art major because I’d blow them all away.

An assignment from Teresa Robeson's Drawing for Non-Art Majors class.

That was the single most encouraging thing I had ever heard about my art. Sure, friends had complimented my work, but that’s what friends do because they love you. To have a professional, who is not a friend or family and who knows his stuff, assess my work so highly actually has significant qualitative merit. LOL!

As for nurturing, I don’t know that I’ve done enough for myself. I probably should have signed up to do a fine arts degree immediately after that compliment, but instead I went the autodidact route, taking classes here and there, now and then, to continue learning.

What turns you on, artistically speaking?

Find more portraits by T. Robeson here.
As I mentioned above, I am completely drawn to (no pun intended) portraits because of a fascination with the human face. Funny enough, I almost never see faces in my dreams. 

One year, in lieu of taking a life drawing class, I sketched Jeopardy contestants while we watched the show. Since my family watches it with me, we don’t pause the show for me to draw, so they had to be done quickly. It was an exercise that trained me to observe critically, noting the feature(s) that define a person’s face and makes her/him unique. Giuseppe Castellano, the art director at Penguin who I took a couple of workshops with, thought it was a brilliant idea.

My favorite media are chalk pastels (I love the buttery Schminckes and Unisons), charcoal, ink, and watercolors. Oh, and of course graphite though I mostly use that for rough sketches these days.

I have a great love for yarn and want to start creating art with fibers one day, too.

While your art encompasses a variety of styles (traditional landscapes, portraiture, digital creations, Chinese painting, and more), I'm probably most smitten with your whimsical animal illustrations and sketches.

"Insult and Injury" © Teresa Robeson

They have so much personality—each one with its own little story to tell. What can you tell us about the penguin poet and sea lion on the cover of The Best of Today's Little Ditty, 2016?

There are certain animals that I enjoy drawing more than others, penguins being among them, so I really wanted to include one on the cover. Also, it is a nod to my picture book critique group, the Penguin Posse.

The Best of TLD 2016 (back cover)  © Teresa Robeson

I loved one of your suggestions of having something interact with the TLD logo, and thought about animals that could go with the penguin and work with the logo. I’d recently drawn a sea lion in one of those little ink drawings I do for @drawonapostit on Twitter and so it was still fresh on my mind.

I brainstormed a scene involving the two and came up with the cover idea, which was to have the penguin start drawing the seal but then think, “To heck with drawing; I’m a poet!” and scribble an ode to the model instead. I found it amusing and hope you and your readers will, too.

You bet I do! And I love the extra appearances of this little penguin inside the anthology, too! 

Can you share anything that's currently in the works—in terms of writing, illustrating, or both?

Well, it's no longer "in the works," but my recent exciting news is that I signed with an agent, the marvelous Natascha Morris of BookEnds Literary Agency! I also have a manuscript being considered by an editor and I’m writing/revising a young adult novel, the synopsis of which won this spring’s NESCBWI Pitchapalooza.

Tell us where we can see more of your work.

My work can be found at (including a page devoted to some of the Jeopardy contestant sketches I drew). I also post nearly-daily drawings at my blog - - and on Instagram - I have a Twitter account at and an author page on Facebook at

Thank you so much, Michelle, for being a fan of my art and asking me to do the cover for this collection of Today’s Little Ditty poems. I’m thrilled to have both a poem and my artwork in this book!

Thank YOU, Teresa! It's an honor to have your art on the cover of The Best of Today's Little Ditty, 2016.

Carrie Clickard's DMC challenge this month is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child. This week's daily ditties included poems by Linda Mitchell, Bridget Magee, Rebecca Herzog, and Doraine Bennett. Find more today at the blogs of Elizabeth Steinglass and Linda Mitchell. Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet, then come back next week for our spooky, end-of-month celebration!

Leigh Anne Eck is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at A Day in the Life.

DMC: "Sleepover" by Doraine Bennett


late night pizza and sweet tea
ghost stories under sheets
delicious chills
until we had to pee
tiptoe down the dark hall
close the bathroom door
don’t turn on the light

silent fright turns to white terror

a monster appears
giant, Grendle-like
standing in the door

we scream
bang, stumble
escape to Mama’s arms
Daddy goes to see

in the light
the monster’s head—
            a wash rag on a hook
the monster’s broad white chest—
            the top of the door
the monster’s huge legs—
            two towels draped from a bar

beneath the sheets
it's hard to sleep

© 2017 Doraine Bennett. All rights reserved.

Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

DMC: "Dolly" by Rebecca Herzog


You thought I was asleep
But I peeked from beneath the sheets
And saw you move

© 2017 Rebecca Herzog. All rights reserved.

Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DMC: "Butterfly Effect" by Bridget Magee


You lured me into the dark kitchen
at the back of the gym
with the promise of extra candy.

With perfect gymnast posture
I stood in the doorway
showing off the orange gauzy wings
my mother sewed on my black leotard
to complete my metamorphosis
into a butterfly for the team Halloween party.

Your compliment,

“You are as cute as a bug,” said in a heady voice,
made something deep inside me

I knew something about the situation
was wrong.

But I was 10.

And you were my coach.

Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:

Monday, October 16, 2017

DMC: Spooky Tetractys by Linda Mitchell

Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet.

PLEASE NOTE: All poem submissions must include the author's name. One poem that was submitted during the first week of our challenge is still pending approval. If you submitted a poem early on, please check to see if it's yours. 

While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Carrie Clickard: Jinxes and Hexes and Curses – oh my!

nebojsa mladjenovic

What good luck!

In celebration of Friday the 13th, Her Spookiness Carrie Clickard has returned today to share a fascinating collection of deviant poetry. Hold on to your heebie-jeebies, folks, it's going to be a nerve-jangling ride. (Parental discretion is advised.)

Jinxes and hexes and curses - oh my!

Did you get up this morning with that feeling of creeping dread that everything was going to go wrong? Maybe you touched wood before you got out of bed. Or perhaps you tucked a lucky acorn or buckeye into a pocket or slipped on your lucky charm bracelet? If you did, you’re not alone. It’s been estimated that 60 million people around the world will stay home today, just to avoid the bad luck of

What better day to talk about jinxes, curses 
and superstitions in poetry?

Now if you’re one of the masses who might be huddled under the covers today, or if, like me, you’re only a little nervous about the day, here’s the good news:

If you’re a dabbler in verse you don’t have to worry because as a poet, we have the power!

That’s right. Ancient Celts believed that bards could curse and cure with the power of their verse.  In fact there’s a version of the pied piper story in Ireland where a bard exterminates a rat infestation with just his rhyme. Now that’s serious jinx power.

It might have been his Irish blood that urged poet J. M. Synge to try his own hand at jinx poetry. When a sister of one of his rivals had the temerity to criticize Synge’s work, his dashed off this dastardly little ditty:

The Curse
Lord, confound this surly sister,
Blight her brow with blotch and blister,
Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver,
In her guts a galling give her.
Let her live to earn her dinners
In Mountjoy with seedy sinners:
Lord, this judgment quickly bring,
And I'm your servant, J. M. Synge.

History does not record if his jinx poem worked.  If it had, I’m thinking the history of literary criticism might have taken a very different course.

Now I don’t want to give the idea that curses in verse were exclusively Irish. Ancient Greek, Egyptian and Chinese verse has been found calling down evil on the heads of enemies. I have to say I sympathize just a bit with the medieval monk who cursed a cat that used his open manuscript for a litter box.  He immortalized his curse in the manuscript itself with a drawing of hands pointing to the stain and a latin verse that could loosely translate as:

Cursed be the pesty cat
and other mewling beasties that
urinate to make this horrid sight. 
And beware my brother scribes
to avoid the feline tribe’s
offense by closing well your books at night!

In a more recent and considerably darker vein, French poet Henri Michaux scribed an eerie jinx poem of his own, with the oddly mundane title of “I am rowing”.  Here’s just a taste:

I have cursed your forehead your belly your life

I have cursed the streets your steps plod through

the things your hands pick up

I have cursed the inside of your dreams

and a little later:
I have frozen you in the soul of your body

iced you in the depths of your life

the air you breathe suffocates you

the air you breathe has the air of a cellar

is an air that has already been exhaled

been puffed out by hyenas

By the time he reaches the repeated line near the end of the poem:
I am rowing

I am rowing

I am rowing against your life

The effect is truly chilling. You can read the whole poem here, if you dare.

If intentionally written curse poems aren’t enough to set your shivers going, what about a poem that itself is reportedly cursed? That’s right, we poets have earned our own urban legend, the deadly poem titled "Tomino’s Hell".  A dark set of stanzas imagining a young boy’s damnation for unspecified acts, the poem was written by Saijō Yaso and first published in 1919. Yaso’s work was supposedly for children, but it was filled with strange symbols and dark wordplay that many adults find unsettling. 

The poem came to modern attention after appearing in Japanese author Yomota Inuhiko‘s 1998 book The Heart is like a Rolling Stone.  Its creepy imagery made it a fan of Internet forums and Tomino’s Hell soon became a "dare game."  If you read the poem aloud, preferably on a video you could upload, you would die.  No recorded harm has happened to anyone as a result of the game, but who wants to risk it?  I, for one, would never even play “Bloody Mary” as a kid.  Blech, shudder and urgh.

If you do decide to risk it, here's a more recent translation with footnotes.

A “little stitious” might perfectly describe the Kenn Nesbitt poem I’d like to leave you contemplating.  With his typical witty wordplay, Kenn reminds us that there isn’t just one day we should beware of. 

It's Friday the 13th Tomorrow

It’s Friday the 13th tomorrow.

A black cat just leapt in my path.

I’m not superstitious, but this might

explain why I’m failing in math.

By chance I walked under a ladder

a teacher had placed by the wall.

In class my umbrella popped open,

and that’s why I tripped in the hall.

The salt spilled this morning at breakfast.

While walking I stepped on a crack.

I took off my shoes on the table.

It looks like my future is black.

This evening I busted a mirror

which means that the next seven years

are due to be filled with misfortune,

catastrophes, mishaps and tears.

With all the bad luck I’m confronting,

it seems that I’m probably cursed.

It may be the 13th tomorrow.

But Thursday the 12th is the worst.

           – Kenn Nesbitt 
                Found on and reprinted with permission of the author

That’s how I like my curses and jinxes, mixed with a healthy dose of silly good humor.  I hope you can say the same.  Wishing all of you good luck and fun on this notoriously unlucky day!

Thank you for such an enlightening and spine-chilling post, Carrie!
I think I'll return to my covers now.

Read Carrie's rhyme crime series HERE, her spotlight interview HERE, and don't forget to submit your poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child for this month's DMC challenge. This week featured poems by Jessica Bigi and Janie Lazo. The padlet is ready to greet you...  bwah-hah-hah!

Carrie L. Clickard is an internationally published author and poet, with books published by Simon & Schuster, Holiday House and Flashlight Press.  Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and periodicals as well including Spider, Muse, Highlights, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Havok, Myriad Lands, Clubhouse, Spellbound, Penumbra, Haiku of the Dead, and Underneath the Juniper Tree.

Irene Latham is hosting a Friday the 13th edition of the Poetry Friday roundup at Live Your Poem. See you there! ...and try not to walk under any ladders along the way.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

DMC: "Under My Bed" by Janie Lazo


There is a darkness lurking near
This darkness fills my heart with dread
I'm not alone – I think – I fear
A darkness hides beneath my bed

As dark as pitch, with eyes that leer
And teeth that rip and pull and shred
Is that a hiss and growl I hear?
I hate this ghastly monster bed!

I feel my eyes begin to tear
The monster might bite through my bed!
Can't cry! I'm turning 12 this year
And monsters don't exist, Mom said.

But just in case, I block my ears
I take off running – out I fled
I made it safe – I jump – I cheer
No way I'm sleeping in that bed!

© 2017 Janie Lazo. All rights reserved.

Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

DMC: "The Forest at Night" by Jessica Bigi


beneath evening skies
a million glowing eyes
blink from midnight's branches
screeches of owls
phantom wings take flight
into deep dark woods
a coyote's lonely yelp
the wind's invisible footprints
walking through the forest at night
as leaves play
a million glowing eyes
blink from midnight's branches

© 2017 Jessica Bigi. All rights reserved.

Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Spotlight on Carrie Clickard + DMC Challenge


Carrie Clickard professes to have spent every free moment since birth with a book in her hand or one in her head waiting to be written. A band, drum corps, and drama geek throughout high school, she graduated Michigan State University with a degree in advertising and bad roommates. Having worked as a copywriter, pressroom manager, marketing VP and color guard instructor, she credits her dazzling career success to a firm belief that dragons exist and that competitive baton twirling should be an Olympic sport.

Besides baton twirling, Carrie has taken up the sport of writing fiction and nonfiction picture books, poetry, middle grade novels, short stories (for children and adults), as well as fun and fascinating nonfiction articles. No matter what she's writing, you can always count on her for a fresh approach, humor, vivid imagination, and a keen ability to pull the reader into the world of the story.

Her debut picture book Victricia Malicia: Book-Loving Buccaneer (Flashlight Press, 2012) has been joined by two more acclaimed picture books in 2017: Magic for Sale (Holiday House) and Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling from Beijing to Cambridge (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books).

I've been waiting a long time to feature Today's Little Ditty's Rhyme Crime Investigator in a Spotlight ON interview. Although I personally have not interviewed Carrie before, Mortimer Rabbit had a few words with her in 2013. That's when TLD readers were first introduced to her love of strange and unexpected characters. (A pas de deux performed by a zombie ballerina and her mummy dance partner? You betcha.) You might also notice in that interview that Magic for Sale was originally slated for 2014. That's when I thought I would be featuring Carrie in the TLD spotlight. But as these things so often happen, the book was delayed... and delayed... and delayed again.

The good news is that here we are—three years later, yes—but pleased as Halloween punch with this spectac-ghoul-lar book that Kirkus calls in a starred review, "One-stop shopping for all your elixir, potion, and spellcasting needs."

No skimping on the dry ice... we're here to celebrate!

Swamp Monster Sherbet Punch
Image credit: Diana Yen

Holiday House (July 25, 2017)
ISBN: 978-0823435593
Click here for more information or to purchase.

Magic for Sale tells the story of Georgie McQuist, a boy who was double-dared to track down a ghost in the magical shop of Miss Pustula Night. Georgie discovers that the ghost has been locked away because of some naughty antics involving a sphinx and invisible ink. He takes pity on the poor ghost, and decides to help out with his punishment—to accurately account for each and every spooky treasure that is housed in the overstuffed basement.

All goes swimmingly (kraken notwithstanding) until Miss Night enters the scene with a KA-BOOM!,  a THUMP!, and a threat to eat our young hero. In the end, you'll be relieved to know Georgie comes out of the experience alive... albeit with more than he bargained for.

Check out this fabulous trailer:

There's so much to love about this book. First, it's age-appropriate—spooky, but not creepy, with a really fun ending. Perfect for a Halloween read-aloud, children will also want to return to it throughout the year. Second, and not surprisingly, Carrie's text is lively and her rhymes are never simple or predictable—they are witty, fun, and keep the reader guessing. Finally, it's not just any artist who can meet Carrie's imagination head on with such elaborate and engrossing illustrations. With meticulous detail, John Shelley has done a phenomenal job turning the entire book into a seek-and-find that will provide hours upon hours of entertainment.

Work in progress for Magic for Sale. © John Shelley, used with permission.

In his own words...
I intended the illustrations to convey a sense of claustrophobic clutter while expanding on the jollity of the text with all the trappings and paraphernalia of magic, mystic and monsters. A darkened shop basement might not seem like the easiest of locations for a picture book, but filling shelves spilling over with extraordinary objects I hoped to create a "bazaar of the bizarre". If the reader is able to find something new every time they look over the drawings, perhaps think of their own stories inspired by the weird items on the shelves, then my job is done.

And now that I've whet your appetite, it seems my job is done... except for the little matter of today's interview. Let's explore the story behind Magic for Sale's bewitching storyteller, Carrie Clickard.

Favorite childhood memory:
The ride home from the library with the light on in the back seat, reading the first delicious page.

Favorite teacher:
I have two—Mrs. Qualls, because she never minded me asking just one more question, and Miss Nichols, because she rescued me when a game of Moonmen vs. Martians went horribly wrong.
Statue of Horus at the Edfu Temple
Photo: Carrie Clickard
  Fun fact: the library in the temple of Edfu
  was called the House of Books of Horus 

Favorite quote:

The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.
Today and tomorrow are yet to be said.
The chances, the changes are all yours to make.
The mold of your life is in your hands to break.

              — J.R.R. Tolkien

Favorite vacation spot: Egypt

Favorite pastime:
Daydreaming my way into a new story.

Most authors have active curiosity and imagination, but yours are in perpetual overdrive. Growing up, was that a benefit, a curse, or both?

It was a curse in early school years as I was always thinking and wondering and demanding to know “Yes, but what if...?” But that same imagination in my free time turned the world into an adventure.  A simple cardboard box on the front porch might hold an ancient book from the tombs of Egypt, or a key to the haunted house down the block, or an invitation to join a secret club.  And if it was empty, well, you just have to wonder, “What got out? And where did it go?” 

You describe yourself as a “lifelong word addict” whose goal is to tell stories that delight and entertain. How does that fit in with today’s market?

I grew up loving all the old folk tales and fairy tales and letting the richness of the language, those golden words pull me into a whole new world.  So today’s picture book world with its fondness for brief texts, even wordless books, can be a bit challenging for a wordy soul like me. My shortest picture book to date is 594 words, which most editors would say isn’t “short” at all. (grin)  I’m learning to appreciate the freshness and surprise that can be crafted into shorter texts, but there will always be a part of my writer’s heart that longs for richer, fuller stories.

 Growing up, "I had the full set of Andrew Lang color coded fairy tale books— and
 nearly read the covers off them. I also adored Tatterhood (who didn't want to ride on
 on a goat brandishing a spoon at your enemies?) and The Seven Ravens." C. Clickard

Where Carrie Clickard's
imagination calls home.
Although TLD readers are well aware of your rhyming prowess, you’re by no means a one-trick pony. What makes different types of writing uniquely satisfying for you?

Each poem or story I write scratches a particular mental itch. When I’m dragged down by life’s mundane to-do’s, I’ll end up populating a planet with strange sentient creatures and sending them on the adventures I can’t go on.  If I’ve been feeling unchallenged and brain dead, I’ll winkle out a mystery filled with red herrings and plot twists.  Horror stories and weird fiction let me create scary things that I can control, usually as a way of escaping scary things in real life I can’t control.  And when I’m feeling joyous and silly, rhyme naturally bubbles forth.

Magic for Sale was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait! Do you recall what first inspired you to write Georgie’s story?

I was listening to a toe-tapping patter song about potions and spells from Gilbert & Sullivan’s opera The Sorcerer.  I thought, what a fun idea—how many crazy magical items could I put in a rhyming list?  So there I was scribbling down ideas like leprechaun’s purses, pyramid curses, werewolf tales, beds of nails,  and I thought, these should all be stuffed into a spooky old house belonging to some seriously creepy person.  The next thing you know, Miss Pustula Night walked into my head and invited me to her store.

From MAGIC FOR SALE (Holiday House, 2017). Text © Carrie Clickard. Illustration © John Shelley. (Click to enlarge)

"I was tucked in my four-ghoster bed
quite enjoying some beetles on bread
when your ruckus and rumpus 
woke Fifi and Grumpus,
so we've come down to eat you instead."

Please share a favorite selection from Magic for Sale and tell us why it’s a favorite.

Oh my, I confess I love the long inventory list the ghost and Georgie conquer, but since it’s so loooong, I’ll opt for the opening description of Miss Night’s shop:

Illustration from MAGIC FOR SALE (Holiday House, 2017) © John Shelley. All rights reserved.
She sells cupboards that you can walk through
and strange mirrors that talk back to you,
crusted cauldrons for brewing,
dried dragon for chewing,
and a rug that a genie once flew.
You can buy mushroom huts for your gnome,
clanking chains if your beasts like to roam,
snoozing bats for your ceiling,
candied mummies for peeling,
or a monster who needs a good home.

...because it’s exactly those kind of objects I’d have loved to find in some mysterious old store as a kid. I’d still love to, as a matter of fact.

From MAGIC FOR SALE (Holiday House), © 2017 Carrie Clickard and John Shelley.

Given the opportunity, what would you bring home from Miss Pustula Night’s shop?

I think it would have to be the dragons of a dainty size, as I’ve always wanted a dragon. But I’m also sorely tempted by the kraken. I think my parents would like having a pet in their pool.

From MAGIC FOR SALE (Holiday House, 2017). Text © Carrie Clickard. Illustration © John Shelley. (Click to enlarge)

What's coming up next for you?

I have a picture book biography of Joyce Chen called Dumpling Dreams which just released this fall and a nonfiction picture book coming up called Bigger is Better that’s about two of my favorite things: the early days of America and mammoths.

The wonder-filled world of Carrie Clickard (age 9).

If you had all the world’s children in one room, what would you tell them?

Never let anyone crush your curiosity or your wonder.  The world can be as fascinating and wondrous as you make it.

Finally, what you have chosen as this month’s ditty challenge?

Since Georgie is dared to go to the spooky store and face Miss Night, then maybe a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Peering into my crystal ball...


I predict this is going to be a SPOOKtacular month of poems! 

I also predict that Carrie Clickard will be back next week, on Friday the 13th, with a fun post about jinxes and superstitions.  BOOoooYAH!

And before I come up with any other cringe-worthy puns, please join me in thanking Carrie for today's interview and for offering a personalized copy of Magic for Sale to one lucky DMC participant! (Winner to be randomly chosen at the end of the month.)

Oh! I almost forgot. I got you a little something, Carrie...

Sculpture made from watch parts, designed by Sue Beatrice

a dragon of dainty size.


Post your poem about what spooked you as a child on our October 2017 padlet. Stop by any time during the month to add your work or to check out what others are contributing.

By posting on the padlet, you are granting me permission to share your poem on Today's Little Ditty.  Some poems will be featured as daily ditties, though authors may not be given advanced notice. Subscribe to the blog if you'd like to keep tabs. You can do that in the sidebar to the right where it says "Follow TLD by Email." As always, all of the poems will be included in a wrap-up celebration on the last Friday of the month—October 27th for our current challenge.

TEACHERS, it's great when students get involved! Ditty of the Month Club challenges are wonderful opportunities to learn about working poets and authors while having fun with poetry prompts. Thank you for spreading the word! For children under 13, please read my COPPA compliance statement in the sidebar to the right.

FIRST-TIMERS (those who have never contributed to a ditty challenge before), in addition to posting your work on the padlet, please send your name and email address to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com. That way I'll be able to contact you for possible inclusion in future Best of Today's Little Ditty anthologies.

BLOGGERS, thank you for publishing your poems on your own blogs– I love that!  Please let me know about it, so I can share your post! Also remember to include your poem (or a direct link to your post) on the padlet in order to be included in the wrap-up celebration and end-of-month giveaway.

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Thanks again to everyone who participated in Carole Boston Weatherford's challenge last month to write an abecedarian poem! We had a few additions since last Friday's wrap-up celebration—click here to take another look. has determined that the winner of a copy of SCHOMBURG: THE MAN WHO BUILT A LIBRARY by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez is . . .

HEIDI MORDHORSTCongratulations, Heidi!

Thanks to Violet Nesdoly for hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup. Wish her a happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving and she might offer you a piece of pumpkin pie... or at least a pumpkin poem.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

September DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway

"Alphabet: Finding letters all over Berlin."   Martin Biskoping

“There is another alphabet, whispering from every leaf, singing from every river, shimmering from every sky.”

                               ~ Dejan Stojanovic

At the beginning of this month, Carole Boston Weatherford challenged us to write an abecedarian poem

Typically each line (or word) of an abecedarian poem begins with A and continues in alphabetical order until you reach Z. For this challenge, however, writers could start and end with whichever letters they chose, just so long as they were used sequentially. (We all know how uncooperative some of those little alphabet critters can be!)

You might say our challenge was to turn this...

"Alphabet" by Luc Blain

into this...

Alphabet pencils by Dalton M. Ghetti
photo: Bernard Goldbach

Easy peasy, right?
                                  ...maybe not.

But leave it to you all to put your muses to work and come up with some terrific results!

Together, we created this...

Alphabet quilt by Gillian King

a communal quilt of abecedarian poems! 

 And that, my friends, is something to be proud of.

Thank you to everyone who contributed a poem, commented, or followed along, and most especially to Carole Boston Weatherford for the inspiration.

Scroll through the poems below (posted alphabetically, of course),
or for best viewing, CLICK HERE.

Made with Padlet

Inspired to write your own abecedarian poem?

Add it to our September 2017 padlet by TOMORROW, September 30, 2017, and I will move your poem to the wrap-up presentation.

Participants in this month's challenge will automatically be entered to win a copy of SCHOMBURG: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Candlewick Press, 2017).

Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below. Comments must be received by Tuesday, October 3rd. If you contribute a poem and comment below you will receive two entries in total.

The winner will be determined by and announced next Friday, October 6th, when we reveal next month's spotlight interview and ditty challenge.

Before I send you on your way, I have some happy news to share...

"Look for the Helpers" and 34 more poems from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015) are now available at SoundCloud. Click HERE to listen or upload for free! Featuring readers David Bowles, Pura Belpré Honor Book winner for The Smoking Mirror, and a dozen of his students from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), the bilingual sampler was recorded in an effort to introduce teachers, students, and especially English language learners, to the music of these wonderful poems!


          Click image to enlarge.

For those who might be uncomfortable playing audio from an online source, CDs are available for $9.00 (at cost) on If you want to follow along while listening, you can find the Teacher/Librarian Edition and Children's Edition of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations available for purchase, as well.

Laura Purdie Salas hosts the Poetry Friday roundup at Writing the World for Kids. Along with this week's offerings, she shares a peek at Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's terrific new poetry collection from WordSong: Read! Read! Read!