Friday, March 25, 2022

Empathy Has Long Ears (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Amy at The Poem Farm for Roundup. Amy has a new book If This Bird Had Pockets that I haven't read yet, but am very much looking forward to!

It's always exciting to read books written by those in our community. This week it was my delight to read two: What Snail Knows by Kathryn Apel and Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner's Call to Science by Jeannine Atkins.

Both are verse novels. Both feature girls who are shy and who bust through limitations to achieve important things.

In What Snail Knows, I instantly related to in-her-shell, always-moving Lucy. I also felt like I knew her don't-need-anyone dad. And I LOVED how playful Kat was with language and shape in the poems! (In the very first poem there's text in the shape of a number 2! (There's also a car-shaped poem, and a snail-shaped one... AND then there's wordplay, like this poem, which happens when the class is helping the environment by participating in an organized catch of an invasive toad species:

We Loop

We group.

    We troop.

        We swoop.

              We scoop.

                  We whoop!

We nab a knot

          ( a lot!)

of toads.

- Kathryn Apel

Yes, a group of toads is called a knot! (New to me -- I love learning things in books!)

This book reminded me of what's possible for our young age 6-7 readers. Lovely! Don't miss it!

Turning now to Hidden Powers. As a book collaborator, I was drawn to Lise and her collaboration with Otto...and how they hang out with Einstein and the Curies. The story behind the discovery and development of the atomic bomb is fascinating. And Jeannine is brilliant at painting her characters as real, full-fleshed out individuals. And this book really shows the struggle women experience, particularly in male-dominated fields. I always enjoy Jeannine's fresh, beautiful figurative language, like:

"She runs her hand over her mother's hair,

wrinkled and gray like a lake in a storm."

Jeannine reminds us the power of verbs in poetry, like here:

"Lise crushes the newspaper, tosses it into the hearth.

The paper flares, darkens, and shivers into ash."

and Jeannine shows us the elegance and emotional truth that poetry offers:

"She won't wish that she didn't discover

what she discovered. But she wishes everyone

would try to see as if by the light of two candles:

one calling to witness, one to remember."

Thanks to both for these beautiful books!

Gratitude also to Saemi for including Live Your Poem alongside some other wonderful poetry blogs for children. View the post of recommendations on Twinkl!


For today's ArtSpeak: Animals poem, I decided to go with a rabbit! (Hoppy Spring!) It took me a while to find the character trait I wanted to use for the metaphor, but when I did, if felt just-right. I love when that happens. :) Thanks so much for reading.

Empathy Has Long Ears

always soft,

with veins
of understanding

both radar
and weathervane


I'm here
I hear you

are the song
I sing

- Irene Latham


  1. Empathy is a wonderful character trait. You describe it so well "I'm here/ I hear you" Ah, that we should all be so empathetic. And thanks for the two book recommendations! I love Kat and Jeannine.

  2. This rabbit. This soft reminder. Listen. Listen. Thank you, Irene, for always going beneath. We used to have rabbits, just one at a time, and they do have a certain sweetness. I am so happy that these new books are in the world - words of goodness, written beautifully. Cannot wait to read! xo

  3. I have both books, now need to find time to read! I watch rabbits in my garden every day. They are nibbling the new growth that has finally appeared, & with the wiggle of their ears, I can tell they are "listening/signaling". I know they can do harm, but I still love watching! Thanks, Irene for the good things in your post.

  4. "You are the song I sing" -- These could be part of a love letter, yet how much more powerful they are as a nudge toward empathy! Sigh... Thank you, Irene.

  5. Thanks for highlighting these new verse novels! Looking forward to reading both. :) Love your empathy poem. Brilliant metaphor!

  6. What a wonderful poem -- and thanks for highlighting those beautiful verse novels, I'm always so excited to see more for the middle grade set.

  7. I love what you've shared from these books, Irene! 💕 "Both radar and weathervane" -- cool! Listening is the biggest part of empathy, isn't it? xo

  8. How lovely that empathy is a soft eared rabbit. It's all so true! Happy reading!

  9. Thank-you so much for this lovely spotlight, Irene, and your very sweet words. Your empathy poem sits so perfectly beside Lucy's story.
    (always soft, mapped with veins of understanding...💗)

  10. I adore the title of your poem!

    And I can't wait to read these two novels in verse. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Thanks for the book reviews and for this perfection of a poem. So happy I'll be working with kids again so we can read from your padlet together!

  12. "you are the song I sing" is perfect for your poem. Thanks also for the book recommendations. I'm putting both on my list to read!

  13. Many wonders in this post, Irene. Your poem of bunny empathy is inspirational! Thank you.

  14. Thanks for the sneak peeks, Irene. I haven't got Kat's book yet, but you reminded me that I need to get a bookshop quick-sticks! And your rabbity reminder re empathy is beautiful, and the practise I am trying to work on at the moment. We need more empathy in the world.

  15. "both radar
    and weathervane"
    (veins)--gorgeous as usual, Irene. Thanks for the deep peek into two new books--it's always fun to celebrate with folks we know and love!

  16. Yay for Kat! Yay for Jeannine! And thank you, Irene, for your cotton-tailed 'song' that the world needs to hear sung. :)

  17. Thanks for the preview of these books - both sound wonderful! And your poem pairs perfectly with Dürer's illustration!


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