Friday, May 26, 2017

All Aboard the Friend Ship!

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit lovely Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for Roundup.

I am traveling today, but I had to share this: I've just finished reading TOO MANY FRIENDS by our resident Aussie Poetry Friday friend Kathryn Apel. Such a a fun verse novel! Be sure to visit Michelle's interview of Kat (and book giveaway!) over at Today's Little Ditty. And it's got me thinking bout friendship and friendship books, as mine and Charles Waters' book CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship is also (obviously!) about friendship. For more on this project (and other thoughts on poetry), please join me at Poetry Tea Time!

Is it possible to have too many friends?
Yes, I do know the feeling of being spread too thin, not able to spend as much time as I'd like with the friends I'm so fortunate to know and love...

Kat gives us a clear picture of narrator Tahnee's take on each child in a group of friends -- each one distinct, from Roxanne who is "like a wind-up toy/ coiled too tight/ fit to bust!" to Lucy who's "too busy/ looking at the hole in the toe/ of her shoe/ to notice."

When the group experiences friendship problems, Tahnee comes up with a course of action that is inspiring! Her kindness creates ripples that transform this community of friends... we should all leave "

Back to me and Charles, who became friends through the experience of writing a book together, and often refer to each other ourselves as "Forever Friends." Here is Kat's poem by the same title:

Forever Friends

You are a good friend because
you have been my friend
and I like being
with you.          (Roxie)

Doesn't it make you want to share your own "You are a good friend because" notes?

There's also a snail in this book! It's one of several shape poems. It's so adorable, I have to share it here:

And now, please welcome Kat, who has responded to a few prompts:

The Delicious: The warmth of memories this story sparked. Whilst it was inspired by a friend’s mother-comment, it was very much written from my teacher-heart, spanning 20 years of classroom experiences and memories. I am very thankful for the beautiful kids and classes who have shaped my life, and it was a joy to have all those memories resurface.

The Difficult: At first I couldn’t think of anything… and then I remembered! The difficult was the fact that we had an unexpected trip come up at short notice, so that the manuscript had to be ready to go to typesetters a month earlier than initially planned, and when I was supposed to be in a frenzy of packing/organisation, I was instead buried in my MS, and vice-versa. The MS was due at the publishers the same day we flew out of the country for 4 weeks cruising South America and Antarctica. (A whole other story!) 

I started back at work the day after we arrived home (a new school year) and that afternoon collected our pile of accumulated mail to find a thick wad of first page proofs - for a 10-day turnaround. Just a wee-bit of a stressful start to the year. But the holiday was definitely worth it! And so is the book! :)

The Unexpected: I’d written a shape poem for ‘Duck, Dad’, with the head of a duck, and body/legs of a man… I was so proud of it! (The level of accomplishment is weighed against my level of inability as an artist.) First pages came back and my poor duck/dad was chopped in half at the waist… I’d got my page width right… but didn’t factor in double-line spacing. (And I had loved him so!) He's now a rubber-duckie and a waterdrop… Cute - but I'm still so proud of my original duck/dad.

Anything Else You'd Like Readers to Know:  Be kind. Be yourself. Be unique. 

Friends are like lollies - so be sweet! 

[note from Irene: Kat told me that in Australia, "candy" is very specific to hard lollies, like candy canes and candy message hearts. "Lollies" is the generic name for all sweets - not including desserts, etc.. Take a look at the Lolly Warehouse.]

Thank you, Kat! You are a good friend because... you sent me your book all the way from Australia! :)


  1. What a great review and chat with Kat. I hope I can get my hands on this book....and "Can I Touch Your Hair?" I need BOTH in my middle school library.

  2. Nice! I like Kay's snail. Great "mini-view" with her!

  3. What a lovely surprise to click across to pop up my linky... and see 'Too Many Friends' already there! :) And then come here and read your lovely words. Thank-you.

    You are a good friend, because you share joy and kindness.

    And I love the heartbeat of your poetry collaboration. Such a powerful-beautiful vision for a book; 'to be brave enough to have these tough conversations, to be open to making mistakes and forgiving when they inevitably happen.' (Gorgeous photo, too!)

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this new book and your interview with Kat. I can't wait to read it myself. And yes, I am inspired to go write my own "you're a good friend..." poem!

  5. It's not so easy to find Kat's book, but there is an e copy available on Amazon! It does sound like a 'just right' book for so many kids. Thanks for another peek, Irene and Kat. I love hearing about the "lollies".

    1. Thanks for sharing, Linda. My dream is to get my verse novels into America, and I'm hoping that one day it will be easier for you to access them!

      That said, I visited a school last week that had made a class study of 'Bully on the Bus' entirely from an ebook - on Apple TV. It was the perfect way to study verse novels in a classroom context; so much rich discussion - and kids keen to take over the reading.

    2. I should add that Book Depository does free postage worldwide, for those hunting a paper-book copy of my verse novels.

    3. I'm glad I returned, Kat. Thank you. I'll look for sure! Fun to hear about the classroom & Apple TV!

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  7. Kat, Lollies are very much the opposite here, limited to hard candy on a stick. I am even more impressed with your achievement, given your time pressures. Good on you!

    Forgot to say thanks to Irene for a great review and interview!

  8. Irene, thank you for showcasing Kat's book. It looks like one that I need to add to my collection. Forever friends are wonderful people with whom you can pick up conversations where they left off no matter how long it has been between visits. Today, I am writing about friendships that last over time. A friendship poem may take flight in the aftermath of what I wrote because I am inspired by you and and Kat.

  9. Here is a poem I wrote for my friend last year...

  10. Thanks for sharing about this book. Kat is a kindred spirit to me with teaching and writing and the art of that juggling act. I look forward to her book. Can't wait for yours, either. When?

  11. Friendship plays such an important role in kids' lives, and can be such a source of joy and agony! Perfect verse novels material, I'd say! 😉

    I like the behind-the-scenes snippets - sometimes we think that once a story is written, the hard for is over, but that's obviously not the case! So much work goes into creating the books we love!

  12. Can't wait to read Kat's book - another amazing PF talent! Friendship is such a fluid and ever changing concept, I love that. =)

  13. Thanks for sharing this little inside glimpse of Kat's book...very happy for her!

  14. Kat, I agree with sharing verse novels (all my read alouds, actually) on the big screen. I use the online Kindle app.

  15. You've captured the essence of this book beautifully, Irene. I, too, loved the good friend notes. It reminded me of an activity I did as a troop leader in Girl Scouts.

    Funny story about Duck Dad, Kat!

    Also, such a lovely interview at Poetry Tea Time, Irene. I can't wait to read Can I Touch Your Hair!

  16. Thanks for sharing more of Kat's book Irene, the more I read and hear about it the more I want to have a copy of my own. I really like the "Forever Friends," poem! I'm looking forward to your collaborative book, "Can I Touch Your Hair, asking questions and listening to others–we need much more of this!

  17. Friends is a great theme as the school year draws to a close. I love your review and chat with Kat. Now I must have my own copy!

  18. Thank you for this peek at Too Many Friends and your interview with Kat. Now I'm curious to read about those ripples of kindness. Can't wait for more news about Can I Touch Your Hair!

  19. I want to read this book! I loved Bully on the Bus.

  20. Great blog post, forever friend. I can't wait to read Kat's book and loved your review. LATHAM and APEL POWER!


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