Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Heart Spencer, Iowa

There are probably many reasons to love Spencer, Iowa, but here is the one I’m talking about: This small city in the northwest corner of the state has named The Year of Goodbyes its selection for the 2013 “All Spencer Reads” reading program.

“I wanted an intergenerational read,” Spencer librarian Robin Munson told the local newspaper, The Daily Reporter. “Having a common subject, I’m hoping, will help to bridge a gap in conversation between children and older adults. . . . I would love if this book prompted conversations among families.”

I would love that, too! In January I will be honored to participate in some of those conversations as part of the programming around All Spencer Reads.

Many thanks to Spencer, Iowa, for this honor.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Better Battle In Chicago

With school back in session in the Windy City, the Chicago Public School system's Battle of the Books 2013 is gearing up--and The Year of Goodbyes is one of the "battle" books!  The program, in the words of the CPS website, "encourages ongoing reading, teamwork and partnership throughout the course of a year."  Starting this fall, schools throughout the city field teams that read, study, and discuss a list of 20 books, preparing for quiz-show-like competitions next spring.

I was interested to learn that in the semi-final round students will earn bonus point "for giving the full name of the author." 

So. . . .

Might they get super-bonus points for identifying me as "Deborah Marian Levy"?  Not that that, my full name, is on this book or any of my other books.  Or would that answer get them no points at all?

Whatever name they call me, I'm grateful to the Chicago Public Schools for including The Year of Goodbyes in this year's Battle of the Books.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Food Poems!

Head on over to "Jama's Alphabet Soup," the blog by author Jama Rattigan, for a delicious post about the Poetry Friday Anthology.  She's put together what she calls a "three-course meal" from this new volume of poetry for the classroom--that is, she's all about the food poems.  In her post, you can read one of my poems, titled "Crunch," as well as poems by Joan Bransfield Graham and Terry Webb Harshman.  Recipes, too!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Poetry Friday Anthology

This fat, fine-looking volume--The Poetry Friday Anthology--is now available, just in time for use in K-5 classrooms.  Edited by children's poetry maestri Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, the book has 218 poems by 75 poets.  The book's subtitle is "Poems for the School Year with Connections to the Common Core," and here's what that means:  Every poem has its own nicely designed, chock-full yet uncluttered page with five activities that tie the poem to curriculum standards.

As Sylvia and Janet describe it, each page "include guidance on reading the poem aloud, a creative way to engage students in reading the poem chorally, a discussion prompt, a skill focus, and a link to another related poem or poetry book.  In just five minutes, you can lead a poetry break that is enjoyable, meaningful, participatory, and skill-based."  The book contains a year's worth of weekly poems for each grade, kindergarten through fifth.  Beautiful!

And, oh yes:  I have two poems in the Poetry Friday Anthology

Read more at the Poetry Friday Anthology blog.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Garrison Forest School

Last month, my mother and I visited the Garrison Forest School in Owings Mill, Maryland to share The Year of Goodbyes.  It was a chilly, cloudy, blustery day, but everyone we met was so inviting we felt as though we were basking in sunshine all afternoon.  Much to my delight, I've learned, the students were so taken with the tradition of the poesiealbum that is central to the book (and to my presentations about the book) that they subsequently created their own poesiealbums, which they shared with one another in an exchange described in this dispatch from the school's website.  (Read to the end of the article to learn about their poesiealbum exchange.)

I wanna be a Garrison Forest girl!

Have a look. . . .

Mom and I with a few of the many students we met
Display of student poesiealbum pages

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Bee In My Bonnet

If I wore a bonnet, I would have a bee in it today.  I've learned that The Year of Goodbyes is a 2012-2013 Nominee for the Beehive Book Awards, sponsored by the Children's Literature Association of Utah (CLAU).  The Beehive Book Award winner will be chosen from the nominated books by the children of Utah, who will vote for their favorites.  I'm really happy that, thanks to its place on this list, The Year of Goodbyes will find new readers among the young people of Utah.

Click here to link to the nominees; look in the Poetry category.  Thank you, Utah!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reading for Lent

Last month, author Mitali Perkins (Bamboo People, Secret Keeper, and more) announced on her blog an interesting and thoughtful idea she was putting into practice for Lent:  "During this season," she wrote, "I strive to impose a new discipline that slows me to see and hear more clearly.  What better practice than enjoying a book from cover to cover, especially in an age when I'm mostly reading in the 'shallows' instead of deeply?"

I'm really honored that Mitali chose to read The Year of Goodbyes as part of her book-a-day-for-Lent project, and appreciate her generous review, which you can read by clicking here

If you haven't read Mitali's Bamboo People, maybe you'll want to put it on your own book list for this season! 

Friday, February 3, 2012


It's always fun to come home and find an unexpected package at the front door, isn't it?  Especially when it's your birthday.  This happened to me the day before yesterday, and when I looked at the return address, it wasn't, which would not have surprised me, but Highlights magazine.  And inside:  a letter from the editors telling me that my latest story for the magazine earned their "Author of the Month" award--and a shiny engraved pewter plate to seal the deal!  The story, called "Lunchtime at the Hot Pot" is in the January 2012 issue of the magazine, and the plate is on my bookshelf.  Thanks, Highlights!