Poetry Friday: The Roundup is Here!


Welcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup! I’m so glad you stopped by. You’re in for a real treat! Not only will you find links to other Poetry Friday posts, I’m thrilled to share poems and illustrations from Grumbles From the Town: Mother-Goose Voices With a Twist (WordSong, 2016), Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s hot-off-the-press companion volume to Grumbles From the Forest (WordSong, 2013), with illustrations by Angela Matteson. I was lucky enough to receive an F&G (folded and gathered) of this book when I was at The Highlights Foundation’s workshop, “The Craft and Heart of Writing Poetry for Children” with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.


These poems, that “remix old songs anew,” have broad appeal. Jane and Rebecca chose fourteen favorite nursery rhymes and gave voices to objects, (Jack’s plum), real or imagined secondary characters (Old King Cole’s daughter), or let the main character speak for him or herself (the Queen of Hearts). Young readers will love the playful nature of these poems. Older readers will appreciate the wordplay, such as learning that the dog from “Hey Diddle Diddle” always “hated playing second fiddle.” Some of the poems, such as “Not Another Fall,” explore the backstory of the original rhyme. What was Humpty Dumpty doing on that wall in the first place?


                                                                               “A Neighbor Gossips to the Gardener
“Not Another Fall”                                               about the Humpty Brothers”                     

Humpty Dumpty                                                Here’s what I heard:
skates on a wall,                                                             SPLAT!
another big tumble,                                           Said to myself, what was that?
another pratfall.                                                 A Humpty had fallen
Another big grin                                                 to the other side.
when he jumps to his feet.                               He was roundish,
He’s got loads of jokes                                      and small. Fell from the wall.
that just cannot be beat.                                   Always in places
He’s our class clown;                                        they shouldn’t be.
that’s never in doubt,                                       The the other one tumbled
but that why he’s sitting                                  from an apple tree.
again                                                                   News came in twos: a cut and a bruise.
in time-out.                                                        (Lucky they didn’t break any legs.)
                                                                              Those Humpty boys
© Jane Yolen, 2016                                          are mischievous eggs.

                                                                       © Rebecca Kai Dotlich, 2016

Angela Matteson’s whimsical illustrations are perfectly suited to these lively rhymes. Her artwork is infused with personality; who wouldn’t want to live in this shoe?


“Shoe Speaks”                                                            “Summer in the Shoe”

I love the sound of giggles                            It was so hot, living in leather
From the lace-swings in the tree,               all day and all night. Sunlight
The thump of running feet                          spilled through the open top,
As children race on home to me.               tumbled down stairs,
                                                                          rested on the cat.
But best is how I love them                         Imagine this, imagine that….
When they dream inside my toe.               read books in a heel,
Do you doubt a shoe can love?                  ate supper in a toe.
I have a sole, you know.                              Blew bubbles
                                                                         from small windows,
© Jane Yolen, 2016                                     rolled marbles down the tongue,
                                                                         bump, bumpity, bump.
                                                                         Played next door
                                                                         in a pirate ship–
                                                                         lots of space to roam.
                                                                Still, we liked going home.

                                                                © Rebecca Kai Dotlich, 2016

Grumbles From the Town also includes the texts of the original nursery rhymes, and I appreciated the fascinating end notes about the origin of each rhyme. The roots of some rhymes have been lost to history, but in most cases the background includes stories that are always interesting, if not always child-friendly.

This collection is a must-have for all elementary classrooms. Students of all ages will enjoy exploring point-of-view through these poems, and the opportunities for children to write their own nursery rhymes “with a twist” are endless! In addition, the possibilities for lessons about vocabulary and word choice abound. But the best reason for sharing this book with children is that these poems are fun to read and full of humor. Thank you, Jane, Rebecca, and Angela for so generously sharing your work today!

35 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: The Roundup is Here!

  1. Hi, Catherine – thanks for hosting! I’m so glad we got to bring back this treasure from the workshop last week. Another amazing collaboration from these two, with perfect illustrations for these ever-inventive rhymes. I only wish we were still close enough to “grumble” together!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. […] Notes: The heat hasn’t left New England, and I haven’t stopped daydreaming about the beach. Any fellow beachcombers in the crowd? I have a cup of shells and feathers by my sink to remind me to swim, fly and hunt for treasure. Happy Poetry Friday and thanks to this week’s host, Catherine, a talented teacher and poet, at Reading to the Core. […]


  3. Catherine, thank you for hosting and for sharing Grumbles. I’m so glad we got to spend time together at the workshop. I hope we get to see each other again someday.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Squee!
    Appreciations, Catherine, for this rumbly tumble way ’round the wall. And for a neu vue inside the shue 🙂 I’m with Margaret. Here, still wandering in my copy of the deliciously dark forest GRUMBLES, but now, here rolls this light romp with M. Goosie. Too wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a neat collection. I am fascinated by the rhymes and stories that live on and love the interplay of different poets’ voices in the same book. Congrats to Rebecca and Jane! Thank you so much for hosting and rounding us all up this week, Catherine. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fun and a great way to bridge those old rhymes with a new generation. Love them. Makes me want to go try writing some myself.
    Thanks so much for hosting this week. I sometimes cannot see the name of the person hosting Poetry Friday. I can see the blog, of course, but not always the name. I will simply need to get to know you better. And, that will be fun over poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for hosting, Catherine–how I would have loved to be at that workshop with you all! (Still not over missing it, I guess.) I love these voices from the traditional literature and have my own collection thereof, but I think I’m going to have to self-publish…no way to compete with the Queens of the Scene!


  8. Catherine, this post is late but I arrived home from Las Vegas late on Thursday night and we have been trying to recoup ever since. I attempted to write about my trip to the Grand Canyon. Thank you for hosting and providing me with a quick insight to the poetry trip. Thanks for sharing.


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