Friday, January 4, 2019

Because Elephants ARE Poetry

Hello and Happy first Poetry Friday of this still-sparkling new year! Be sure to visit Sylvia at Poetry for Children for Roundup and for her delicious annual list of forthcoming poetry books for children!

Today I am feeling HAPPY... which happens to be my 2019 One Little Word. Not only has CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? been included with some other lovely titles as a Cybils Finalist for poetry and a Nerdy Book Club best poetry book (congratulations to all, and so many thanks to the panelists! We're delighted and hope this brings new readers to the book!), I also have a new book that releases next week called MEET MISS FANCY.

MEET MISS FANCY features a fictional boy, a real-life elephant, and a "No Colored Allowed" sign in 1913 Birmingham, Alabama.

THE EGG by Dr. Seuss
I wrote this book so many times and in so many ways! I gave up about a hundred times. But. I had friends who encouraged me, and there was also Dr. Seuss' HORTON whispering in my ear: "an elephant's faithful one hundred percent." I wanted to be faithful, too -- to my story, to history and emotion, to myself. And lo, now it's a book! I'm so grateful to G.P. Putnam's Sons and one Excellent Editor Stacey Barney in particular.

Lovely reviews have been pouring in... including a shiny star from Booklist! Here's an excerpt from the review:

"Meet Miss Fancy should be savored for its joyous, vibrant renderings of Avondale's African American community and families, so full of movement and light that they often resemble stills from an animated film. This is a gem of a story."

Eeep! Illustrator John Holyfield and I could not be more delighted. We hope many readers experience all the emotions Frank experiences in the book. (One of the things I love best about the book is how emotional it is... all thanks to John's illustrations! Beautiful, beautiful work, I tell you.)

So, in celebration of MISS FANCY, I thought I'd share some elephant-y goodness with you today.

Do you remember the book of elephant poems called COUSINS OF CLOUDS by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, illus. by Megan Halsey & Sean Addy? Read a review I love over at Hope is the Word. You can win a copy of this book (along with 10 other elephant books!) by subscribing to my newsletter -- new issue with giveaway coming next week!

I've been playing around with drawing elephants using SQUIGGLE! by Kenza Hayashi. This is my favorite doodling book ever.

Finally, here's a poem I wrote called "Let's Celebrate the Elephant," that's metaphor-heavy (!) and appears in THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR CELEBRATIONS selected by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

Let's Celebrate the Elephant

it's gray-sky,
dumptruck body
perched on treestump legs,

it's impeccable,
flexible hosepipe trunk
framed by sailboat ears.

And let's not forget
that swishing,
twitching flyswatter tail

bringing up the rear!

- Irene Latham

Thanks for reading! If you have a favorite elephant book or poem, please share in comments! xo


  1. Your new book looks absolutely amazing! I'm a big Elephant and Piggie fan. And looks like you have a great start on your OLW!

  2. Congratulations, Irene! I can see why your book has been garnering accolades - your faithfulness to the story and persistence in finding a way to tell it has paid off.

  3. Miss Fancy is ordered, can't wait, Irene! How wonderful to hear about your perseverance! The reviews are glowing! I love your elephant poem, really perfect about the wondrous elephant. We gaze at our zoo often at those 'dumptruck' bodies, but still it's sad to see them confined. My favorite elephant poem, Laura Elizabeth Richard's 'Eletelephony' - here:

  4. What a joy filled post! I am so tickled for you and the words that are coming out in Meet Miss Fancy! You go, girl! You give me hope that not giving up has its rewards. I will certainly and HAPPILY sign up for your newsletter. I want to keep up with you and all the wonderful successes you will be celebrating. Again, many congratulations

  5. Congratulations on Miss Fancy! I can't wait to read it! And I love your elephant poem! I think my sixth graders will love it too! I had forgotten COUSINS OF CLOUDS, but I need to go back and look for it because I remember loving it! This post made me happy!

  6. Can't WAIT for this one, Irene - congratulations on all the sparkly goodness swirling around your books right now! And - um, BABAR - HeLLOO?!! ;0) (A childhood favorite.) XO

  7. A delight! Love your poem - and your story sounds/looks enticing, too. Congratulations! xx

  8. Congratulations, Irene!!! An elephant (size: large) is one of the things found in a wizard's pocket. ( I wonder what might be in an elephant's pocket?

  9. I can't wait to get my hands on this book and share it with my students! You and Charles and DON'T TOUCH MY HAIR live on in our classroom discussions!

  10. Congratulations, Irene! This looks like another gem that I can't wait to share with my students. Your story of perseverance is one I needed to hear today. Thank you so much for this lovely post!

  11. Congratulations! Your new book looks fabulous. I can't wait to discover it for myself.

  12. I've always loved elephants and have drawn them too. Congratulations, what an intriguing book this looks and sounds like–and thanks for sharing your story of perseverance. One of my favorite film features elephants, Hatar, here's clip with the elephants


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