Friday, July 19, 2019

Sneak Peek: FINDING TREASURE by Michelle Schaub

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Carol at Carol's Corner for Roundup. 

I've had a lovely time this week with my turning-11 adopted little sister ... we've been busy swimming and playing piano and shopping and making funny videos... the one of her teaching Paul to do the floss dance is pretty hysterical! :)

In poetry news, today I am happy to welcome to the blog Michelle Schaub, to talk about her new poetry book Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections, illustrations by Carmen Saldaña, coming September 17, 2019 from the good folks at Charlesbridge. I met Michelle at WWU Poetry Camp in 2016, just after my farmers' market collection had been released, and just before hers would be released! So we've known for a while we have things in common. :) Which is why I wasn't surprised to learn her newest poetry book is about something else near and dear to my heart: collections! 
Michelle's farmers' market book,
illustration by Amy Huntington -
who also illustrated one of my
forthcoming 2020 books,
NINE: A Book of Nonet Poems.
my farmers' market book,
illustrated by Mique Moriuchi
About FINDING TREASURE: When her class is assigned to bring in favorite collections for show and tell, our young narrator panics. She doesn’t have a collection! In search of inspiration, she turns to family and friends. Mom collects buttons. Grandpa collects coins. Even the mailman has a collection. Is there time to start a new collection? Or find an abandoned one in the attic? Join the treasure hunt in this story told through poems.

And now, here's Michelle, responding to a few simple prompts:

The difficult:

MS: When I started brainstorming different types of collections to include in Finding Treasure, some obvious ones popped into my mind: coins, rocks, shells, baseball cards. I definitely wanted to represent time-honored forms of collecting, but I also wanted to include surprises. I did some research and found several unique collections.
Some I decided to include, like snow globes, but others were just a little too strange for a children’s book. So, I forced myself to think outside the box. Would it be possible to collect something intangible? This led to the poem “My Mail Carrier’s Cache” about a postal worker who collects smiles. Do scientists collect anything? This led to the poem “The Gist of Collecting.” (By the way, getting scientific names like “dipterologist” to fit the poem’s meter presented its own difficulty.) I was also challenged to have the protagonist come up with a collection that fit her personality, was different from the other collections in the book, and came as a bit of a surprise. Read the final poem “My Treasure Found” to see if I accomplished this!

The delicious:

MS: As a poet, I love the challenge of shaping my words and ideas into specific poetry forms. Finding the right word and rhythm to meet specific parameters is as satisfying as fitting an elusive piece into a puzzle.
see complete vanity plate poem below!
To that end, I played with many different poetry forms in
Finding Treasure, from double dactyl to rondeau. But the form I found most delicious is one I made up: a vanity plate poem. (Note from Irene: this makes me think of Donna, who collects - ! - interesting vanity plates via her camera.) I knew I wanted to include a poem about someone who collects license plates because this is something my grandfather did. One entire wall in his garage was covered with old plates. While my grandfather’s license plates were just random combinations of numbers and letters, I wanted the poem I wrote to be about a collection of vanity plates. Who doesn’t love decoding those secret messages when cruising down the highway? So, I composed the poem with each line as a different vanity plate. I hope readers have as much fun solving the license plate puzzles as I did inventing them.

The unexpected:

MS: The biggest, and most pleasant surprise I had with Finding Treasure is seeing how much Carmen Saldaña’s illustrations enriched my poems.
When I set out to write a new poetry collection, I try to include a narrative arc so that my poems tell a story as they progress. I did this with Fresh-Picked Poetry by structuring my poems to show a day at the market unfolding, from farmers’ early morning harvest to venders finally taking down their tents at dusk. I wanted to do this in Finding Treasure also. In the opening poem, I set up the skeleton of a story: a child needs to bring in a collection for a school assignment, but she doesn’t collect anything. Without Carmen’s amazing illustrations, the child’s quest would not have been developed as clearly. Carmen gave the child a personality. She put her in relationship with the different characters who share their collections along the way. She created an entire community of collectors and brought depth and life to the book.

Anything else:

MS: To gear up for the launch of Finding Treasure, I’ll be running a social media campaign called “Countdown to Collection” in which I feature different people’s collections. If you collect something you’d like me to share on twitter and IG, please send a picture of it (with our without yourself in the picture) to shellschaub (at) Note from Irene: I sent Michelle a picture of one of my newest collections. I hope you will, too.:)

I hope Finding Treasure inspires both collectors and those who have not yet started a collection to discover their own treasures!

Find out more about Michelle Schaub and her books at

Thank you, Michelle, for sharing with all of us... congratulations on FINDING TREASURE! xo


  1. Collecting smiles -- how lovely!
    Had to look up "dipterologist" :-)
    Sounds like a terrific book, good for any young reader!

  2. Oh, my! I cannot WAIT for this book to come! I am from a mom who collected and I've inherited some of those tendencies. This will make a fabulous mentor text and I'm sure it will be popular in our classroom Poetry Friday selections!

    1. Thanks, Mary! From one collector to another, I hope you like the book!

  3. I loved both your and Michelle's farmer's market books, go as often as I can just to enjoy the happiness of those selling & buying. This book is going to be loads of fun for all ages, and as I often say, makes me want to be back in the classroom again, inviting students to share their own special 'treasures'. Thanks for sharing, Irene and for writing, Michelle.

  4. Fresh Picked Poetry was lovely, and I'm really looking forward to Michelle's latest. Thanks for the sneak peek!

  5. Your new book sounds delightful Michelle, and I like the lively art too! What a fun idea to feature different people's collections. Thanks Irene for sharing Michelle and her new book, and thanks Michelle for sharing your story!

    1. Thanks, Michelle. Carmen did an amazing job with the illustrations!

  6. This looks like such a fun book. And I am jealous all over again at all the opportunities American poets have for markets. It is SO hard to get publishers to take on poetry in Australia! And yet look at the joy and sheer creativity that they are missing out on! I can see I need to schedule some time in bookshops and libraries when I am in America, to peek inside some of these books that entice me. (I'd better pack light, too - so I can bring lots back!!)

  7. Very cool! I have four children who have gone through various stages of collecting and hauling their collections or parts of them to school and back. My spouse is an avid collector. I am not a collector outside of being a librarian...which is a kind of ultimate collector! I look forward to reading this book with a special young person. The idea of collecting is fascinating. Thans for being here today, Michelle.

    1. Thanks, Linda! I hope the collectors in your life like the book!

  8. Thank you for sharing this new book. It looks delightful. I have fond memories of my shell collection in childhood, but it's long gone now.

  9. Thank you for sharing this book and Michelle's words about it. I am a recovering fabric collector.

  10. Thank you for highlighting Finding Treasure, Irene! I can't wait to add it to my collection of poetry books! ;-) I have many collections, so I'll have to think about which one to share with Michelle.

  11. Thanks, again, Irene, for giving FINDING TREASURE a sneak peek!

  12. Irene, collections are so wonderful to look at and treasure. I have a love of collecting that started when I was little. Michelle's book is going to be a great find for curious children (and adults). Thanks for sharing Finding Treasure.


Your thoughts?