Tag Archives: poetry

WOW Blog Tour for “The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes”: Book Review

Those who have been following my blog know that I have been on a journey to improve my poetry. So I was delighted when I was offered the opportunity to review a book called “The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes” by Raven Howell.
The poems are delightful on the tongue, and though the subject matter is geared towards children, adults will find the poems appealing enough to keep them interested, and the poems will potentially prompt further discussion. My favourite poem is called “Between the Sun and Moon”, all about quiet moments, something many of us are in search of these days. “Here, Kitty, Kitty!” made me laugh. Book lovers like me will recognize themselves in “Let’s Go!” “Red Robin’s Gift” got me thinking about gifts in general.
Illustrator Nazli Tarcan’s vibrant pictures are just as delightful on the eye as Howell’s poems are on the tongue.
I highly recommend “The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes”.
Note: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Check out a related post from last week: author Raven Howell’s guest post about “Why do we love gnomes so much?”
Don’t forget to also check out the other blog post stops on this WOW tour.

Book Summary

Discover the magic in simple moments when a child peers in the mirror to unintentionally come upon his smile, where kittens nap in boots, fairy hugs feel good, mice delight in reading books, and January snowflakes taste yummy.

Twenty whimsical poems warm the heart and inspire cheer; a collection enticing both the young and seasoned reader to explore the enchantment of the wonderful world of poetry.

About the Author

Raven Howell writes stories and poetry for children. Having published several award-winning picture books, she enjoys sharing her love of literature by visiting classrooms and libraries. Raven is Creative & Publishing Advisor for Red Clover Reader, served as Poetry Director for Monster Magnificent, and writes The Book Bug column for Story Monsters Ink magazine. Her poems are found in children’s magazines such as Ladybug, Spider, Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty, and Hello Magazine. She’s an editor, and collaborating author for Reading is Fundamental SoCal.

When not writing, Raven enjoys sunshine and the beach, spending time with her family, hiking, laughing, reading, goofing around with artwork, and inventing new recipes.

You can find her on:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/atpearthkeeper
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/atpearthkeeper/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RavenHowellAuthorandPoetPage/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pickward/_saved/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raven-howell-5a813015b/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@ravenhowell22

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler

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WOW Blog Tour for “The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes”—Guest Post by Raven Howell

Hooray! Today author Raven Howell is stopping by my blog to share some thoughts on why we love gnomes so much. I requested Ms. Howell stop by, because I love gnomes, and I wanted to read what the author had to say about them.

One of our local village gnomes during this past holiday season.

Why do we love gnomes so much?
Raven Howell

They’re baaaack! Our mischievous custodians of the earth, gnomes have long symbolized protection for farmers and in general, just plain good luck. My Latvian parents passed on beliefs about gnomes having helpful interactions with humans. Scandinavians associate gnomes most closely with the Christmas season. In any case, they are famously depicted as little garden guardians in the form of statues in yards all around the world.

Did you know that according to a new study from Atlas Ceramics (creators of the “Garden Trends” index) gnomes have been the biggest garden trend of 2022? It’s pretty funny how we’ve modernized this trend, too. In the past couple of years I’ve spotted gnomes who perform yoga, like to fish and even pose for selfies! So if you think a gnome helps your flowers grow, I say go for it, be it a gnome holding a spade, snoozing under a mushroom, or standing on its head, upside down.

To me, gnomes are impish, whimsical Tolkien spirits, and in the case of the title of my new children’s book (The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes), obviously I also think some of them really enjoy reading. Maybe if gnomes have a penchant for reading time, a child will consider that for him or herself also. I hope so! Being a dedicated advocate for child literacy, nothing makes me smile brighter than seeing a child with a book in their hands.

This past summer, after a book signing at the boardwalk in New Jersey, my husband and I took to our favorite fudge shop for treats. I just finished a “gnome” story time and signed over a dozen gnome books, and as synchronicity would have it, the fudge shop is selling cute stuffed gnome toys. I’m not talking about several of them, but an entire wall of the store from front to back, just lined up with tons of gnomes. And they’re all different, too! A variety of colors, clothing, gestures, and silly expressions evoke laughter from most of us admiring the whimsical crew.

There is no way I could have predicted a strong trend in gnomes when I came up with my book title. In fact, in case you didn’t know, the journey of book production from its beginning idea to final physical product can take years. Therefore, with a touch of unpredicted surprise, I am overjoyed at the uptick in gnome popularity, and delighted to think it’s drawn book lovers to reading it.

In this crazy social climate, should you crave a little imagination and enchantment to escape into, I hope you find some “gnome-ishness” to provide a bit of magic in your heart.

Cool! I am always looking for “gnome-ishness”. How about you?

Next week, I will review “The 20 Little Poems for 20 Little Gnomes”, so be sure to stop by again. Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour.

Book Summary

Discover the magic in simple moments when a child peers in the mirror to unintentionally come upon his smile, where kittens nap in boots, fairy hugs feel good, mice delight in reading books, and January snowflakes taste yummy.

Twenty whimsical poems warm the heart and inspire cheer; a collection enticing both the young and seasoned reader to explore the enchantment of the wonderful world of poetry.

About the Author

Raven Howell writes stories and poetry for children. Having published several award-winning picture books, she enjoys sharing her love of literature by visiting classrooms and libraries. Raven is Creative & Publishing Advisor for Red Clover Reader, served as Poetry Director for Monster Magnificent, and writes The Book Bug column for Story Monsters Ink magazine. Her poems are found in children’s magazines such as Ladybug, Spider, Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty, and Hello Magazine. She’s an editor, and collaborating author for Reading is Fundamental SoCal.

When not writing, Raven enjoys sunshine and the beach, spending time with her family, hiking, laughing, reading, goofing around with artwork, and inventing new recipes.

You can find her on:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/atpearthkeeper
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/atpearthkeeper/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RavenHowellAuthorandPoetPage/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pickward/_saved/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raven-howell-5a813015b/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@ravenhowell22

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler

Free Verse Friday—January 2023

It’s our first Free Verse Friday. Yay! This month’s theme is “Beginnings”.

I started writing my poem during Beth Kempton’s “Winter Writing Sanctuary”. This was a free 10 day writing “retreat”. I liked it so much, that I ordered a couple of Kempton’s books including “The Way of the Fearless Writer”, which has yet to arrive.

Here’s the picture to accompany my poem:

Several rewrites later, this is the poem I came up with:

Eye popping sunset
Cues the demise of a day
Darkness rises, night’s born
Is the sun glum that day ends?
Or does the sun celebrate
the beginning of the night?

In future rewrites I may add more description, but for now I am happy with the beginning of a new poem.

How about you? Did you write a poem? Feel free to post one in the comments or link to your blog with your poem in the comments.

Don’t forget to head to Bev’s blog to read her poem.

See you next month for a poem written on the theme of “Winter”.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2023 Linda Schueler

Introducing “Free Verse Fridays” 2023

Introducing our new challenge this year…Free Verse Fridays.
You may remember that last year my writing partner Bev and I did “Our Own Backyard” as our 2022 challenge. This year we are changing focus, and we are going to be doing a poetry challenge once a month. Yay!
Did you want to play along? We’d love to have you. If so, these are the parameters. Pick a picture related to the theme for the month. Then write a free verse poem related to the picture and the theme. Then on the first Friday of the month, post your picture and poem on your blog.
The themes for the first three months are as follows:
January—Beginnings
February—Winter
March—Green
Leave a comment on one of our blogs, linking to your blog. If you don’t have a blog, then feel free to put the picture and the poem in the comments.
I’m going to give you a preview of two pictures I am considering using for the first poem, which I will post on Friday. Now I’ll need to actually write the poem on the theme of “Beginnings”. Stay tuned.


I’ll meet you here next week, and I hope to see a poem from you too!

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Poetry Ponderings, Part 2

“Someday, I hope to stay
who I am in the woods
when out of them—
Aware
Grateful
Awed”
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

This is an excerpt from a poem called “Lessons in September”. I have been thinking that I need to get back to tromping though the woods. I got out of the habit this year, but it’s been to my detriment.

Last month I began to write about my poetry journey. Since then, I am happy to tell you that my poetry course has been going really well. The professor is hilarious! I have discovered some of the things that I have been doing wrong. For example, I am tempted to leave my poems in their original form, because they come from my heart. But my poems will be stronger if I revise and/or edit them. This is one of the things I intend to work on in the new year.

I have discovered that I love Nikita Gill’s poems, and it’s probably because she writes a lot of nature poetry. Have you ever read any of her poems? Have a look at this article for a tiny taste.

Did you hear that “Spell World Backwards” by Bren Simmers won the CBC poetry prize? I could totally relate to that poem, as my father had Alzheimer’s. I’d love to read the book it comes from.

In 2023, I am going to look for more opportunities to read and write poems.

How about you? How’s your poetry writing coming along?

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Poetry Ponderings

Lately I’ve become interested in learning how to write poetry. I’ve given it a sporadic shot over the past few years, but now it’s become a focus of mine. I’ve even thought about making “poetry” my word of the year for 2023 (although magic wasn’t all that successful for 2022…)

I liken poets to jesters in the court. Jesters can say what they want without retribution from their leaders, and they often do so in a clever and/or hilarious way. So too are today’s poets able to critique current conditions, calling attention to culture’s conundrums.

I am particularly interested in Ecopoetry. I have been concerned about the environment for many years, but now it has become a burning issue for me. If you have any suggestions about books that you recommend, please let me know.

Consider the housing crisis. Yes, I understand we need more houses, especially affordable ones, but why do I never hear about the balance between construction and the environment?

Build, build, build
We need more houses, they say
So let’s build, build, build
But what about the animals?
Did you ask them about their houses?

That’s my first draft of a poem that has been circling through my mind for some time now. I tend to stick with my first drafts, but certainly I realize that there is much room for improvement. I don’t pretend I am an awesome poet, I am just a curious poet.

So I decided to do something I promised myself I wouldn’t do—because I am a recovering courseaholic—yes, I signed up for another course. True, this one is free through Coursera. It’s called “Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop”, and it’s a California Institute of the Arts course. I am excited yet scared, as we will actually be sharing our poems, which will be critiqued. Deep breath. I can do it!

I also am in the midst of another free course through Coursera, which is the famous “ModPo” one from University of Pennsylvania. Admittedly I have been stuck on that one for some time. I am 20% through—perhaps I will give it another try.

A book I have been reading that I have found helpful despite its dubious title is “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Poetry” by Nikki Moustaki. I have borrowed the e-book, but I think I will buy my own copy.

I hope to touch base with my poetry discoveries through my blog.

What about you? Do you write poetry? Is there a new adventure you are on? I love to read your comments.

Shoe’s Seeds and Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

November 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

One of my favourite first lines in a book starts “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” The line from the Dickens classic goes on to continue with its incredible contrasts such as “…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” I am thinking about buying the shirt with this quote on it, as it sums up what 2021 was like for me…
I’d have to say that my life is on the upswing though. The wind is whispering of new beginnings and a new direction. I see the cracks of light as my seed starts to find its way out of the earth.
I’m not sure what my blog will look like next year, but it will be a different format. But for now, onward to my monthly report.

Here’s my wrap up for the month:

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.
I really have not been doing well in this challenge. I don’t believe I will be able to complete it this year.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I didn’t read any this month.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

I did start reading more though, particularly in this category.

“Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say” by Kelly Corrigan
I thought I wasn’t going to like this when I started to read it, but the more I read the better I liked the book. Totally relatable and so many truths. I love the phrases that she is learning to say—I could use more of these phrases in my life—and my favourite chapter is “I love you”.
On the phrase “I love you”:
“The first time the words pass between two people: electrifying.
Ten thousand times later: cause for marvel.
The last time: the dream you revisit over and over and over again.”

“The Book of (Even More) Awesome” by Neil Pasricha
This was a score at a little library, and I brought it home intending to read it to cheer me up during my down times, but oddly it only made me feel good if I was already in a good mood. Also I found it was geared towards a certain audience. Still there was some good stuff in there like the chapters that begin with “The sound of water lapping against a dock” and “The sound of snow crunching under your boots”.

“Every day is a poem” by Jacqueline Suskin
This is a book I will be returning to again and again for sustenance. The book is filled with Suskin’s observations about poetry interwoven with her own poems. Several poetry writing exercises are included. Here’s a video of Suskin reading her stunning poem about her own poetic purpose.

“Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wisława Szymborska”
Suggested by more than one person at the “How Three Women Use Science in Writing” webinar. This is a translated book of poems by the winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature. Some truly stunning poems here. My favourites include “There But For The Grace”, “The Terrorist, He Watches”, and “Life While You Wait”. Two of my other favourite poems from this book (“Utopia” and “The Joy of Writing”) can be read on this page along with three of her equally exquisite poems.
I would like to write a poem like the structure of her “Possibilities” poem, which begins every sentence with “I prefer…”, e.g., one line is “I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.” Me too, Ms. Szymborska, me too.

Bonus:

“moms” by young-shin ma
Though this graphic novel about a bunch of unconventional Korean moms, who are all in their mid-fifties, doesn’t technically fit into this category, I loved it so much that I’m giving it a mention. The author actually had his mom write down her memories of her and her friends’ lives and then based the book on them. The story is very complex yet still easy to follow.

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

I did work on my writing, including getting back to writing my novel, but not every day.

Read related literature to my novel writing.

Not so far.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month.

I have become fascinated by “hermit crab” essays, and so I am focusing on them.

“!Fast and Easy! A Short and Sweet Guide to Making a French-Canadian Favourite: Pâté Chinois” by Joni Cheung
A fantastic hermit crab essay. The structure is a recipe, which juxtaposes with a discussion of anti-Asian racism.

“What’s Missing Here? A Fragmentary, Lyric Essay About Fragmentary, Lyric Essays” by Julie Marie Wade
A couple of observations I appreciated:

“…the lyric essay asks you to do something even harder than noticing what’s there. The lyric essay asks you to notice what isn’t.”

and

“I think lyric essays should be catalogued with the mysteries.”

Bonus:

“Frances Hodgson Burnett Really Loved Gardens—Even Secret Ones” by Marta McDowell
I had to share this, because I found it so uplifting! An excerpt from McDowell’s book called “Unearthing the Secret Garden”.

Favourite quote:

“As long as one has a garden one has a future, and as long as one has a future one is alive.”

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

“We are Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom; Michaela Goade
-winner of the Caldecott Medal
What I like about this book:
-how water is seen through a spiritual lens
-personification: the black snake
-alliteration: “Tears like waterfalls stream down.”
-fabulous back matter
-eye catching floral motifs

“Kits, Cubs, and Calves: an Arctic Summer” by Suzie Napayok-Short; illustrated by Tamara Campeau
What I like about this book:
-it’s longer than a traditional picture book, making for a more satisfying taste of life in the Arctic
-the seamless weaving in of Inuktitut
-the glossary of Inuktitut
-modern day life is explored—they even have an underwater sound recorder
-secondary story of the beluga whales

Bonus:

“The Beatryce Prophecy” by Kate diCamillo; illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A lovely friendship story for ages 9+. This video sums it up beautifully.

Submit one story to a contest per season.

I’ve already done this.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

November is always a great month for writing webinars. I watched five this month!

“Quantum Physics, Biology, Genetics: How Three Women Use Science in Writing” (Wild Writers Literary Festival, hosted by Erin Bow)

“From Plants to Pages: Helen Humphreys on Field Studies” (Wild Writers Literary Festival)

“Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Trees as Participants in Theatre and Performance (University of Guelph Arboretum)
Megan de Roover is the inaugural writer in residence at the Arboretum. This article gives you a taste of what she talked about.

“The Dressmaker of Auschwitz—A Talk with Lucy Adlington” (Idea Exchange)

“Hiding the Mona Lisa—A Virtual Talk with Laura Morelli” (Idea Exchange)

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

I didn’t do this.

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I did this.

Blog at least twice a month.

I didn’t do this.

Weekly treasure:

I had fun using sage leaves to make these leaf prints.

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo
I wrote four.

100 day challenge:
I do this sporadically.

How have you been weathering 2021? I already have a couple of new things in the works for 2022 including our own version of “In my Backyard”, which I’ll be doing with my critique partner Bev, as well as participating in the “Kindred Readers Book Club” that she is co-facilitating. Stay tuned to read about these events next year.
Stay tuned also to read about what my “Word of the Year” will be in 2022. Have you chosen one?
Wishing you a peaceful, joyful, and harmonious holiday season.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

August 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

This was another challenging month for me with a lot of soul searching, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Here are my results:

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben

In my third attempt to read this book, I finally succeeded! I don’t know why I didn’t finish the first two times, because it really is a wonderful book. Perhaps I just got distracted? Anyway, to read more about my impressions of the book, see the entry below.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben 

This quote sums up the book and the feeling that you will leave with after reading it:

“When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you no longer can just chop them down and disrupt their lives with large machines.”

I believe the book should be required reading material in school.

Apparently also there is a related movie.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

“World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Written by a poet, Nezhukumatathil weaves her story into observations of nature. A delightful read!

Favourite quotes:

“And so, I ask: When is the last time you danced like a superb bird of paradise? I mean, when was the last time you really cut a rug, and did you mosh, bust a move, cavort, frisk, frolic, skip, prance, romp, gambol, jig, bound, leap, jump, spring, bob, hop, trip, or bounce?”

and

“It is this way with wonder: it takes a bit of patience, and it takes putting yourself in the right place at the right time. It requires that we be curious enough to forgo our small distractions in order to find the world.”

“Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku” by Natalie Goldberg

I started this when I was on vacation in July and finished it upon returning home. Part history, part travelogue, I really enjoyed journeying along with Goldberg. The book motivated me to write several haikus about what happened on my vacation, and I wrote them in the book, so the book has become a keepsake.

“The Comfort Book” by Matt Haig

I loved this book so much that I bought it after I read my library copy. So much deliciousness here!

Example:

“…one of the most common feelings among people was the feeling of not fitting in among people. The comfort, then, is the weird truth that in one sense we have most in common with others when we feel awkward and alone. Isolation is as universal as it gets.”

and

“I used to worry about fitting in until I realized the reason I didn’t fit in was because I didn’t want to.”

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Very sporadic.

Read related literature to my novel writing.

No, I didn’t do this.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month. These are the two that I analyzed:

“My greatest pandemic discovery has been finding the wild in the city” by Andrea Curtis

What I like about this essay:

-Evocative language:

“We’ve also slipped down the side of steep embankments, threaded our way over boulders, passed ancient washed-out bridges, dodged storm water outtake pipes, graffitied underpasses and fjorded frozen streams.”

-Unexpected discoveries:

‘In his beautiful book about walking called The Old Ways, the British naturalist Robert Macfarlane calls unofficial urban paths, the ones trodden but not formally marked “desire lines.”’

-A thoughtful takeaway

“Hearing the voices from my family’s past 50 years later felt like coming home again” by Gayle Belsher

A couple of discoveries:

-The essay starts with a few facts.

-The essay mentions how the author’s journey links to the pandemic, which I am seeing is a common topic now in creative nonfiction essays.

Overall I am starting to see patterns, and I am going to try such techniques as peppering facts in my creative nonfiction essays.

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

These are the two that I analyzed:

“This Pretty Planet” by Tom Chapin and John Forster; illustrated by Lee White

The book is based on a song, so it’s not a surprise that the text is musical. Short and sometimes rhyming text make it easy on the ear; the illustrations also make it easy on the eye.

Favourite part:

“You’re a garden

You’re a harbour

You’re a holy place.”

“Peace” by Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul; illustrated by Esteli Meza

What I liked:

-beautiful and creative rhyming pairs, such as correctly/directly

-peace explained in a child friendly way: “Peace is pronouncing your friend’s name correctly

-animals are featured in the pictures, and the author’s note explains how peace also affects animals

Submit one story to a contest per season.

Not a good month: I got five rejections. However, I am planning on repurposing two of those stories.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

I didn’t do this.

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

I’ve been working my way through a course about marketing writing.

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I have dropped out of one of my critique groups due to scheduling conflicts. However, I still continue meeting with my first critique partner weekly.

Blog at least twice a month.

I’ve completed this task.

Weekly treasure:

The birds that have been coming to my bird feeder have provided a lot of comfort. How many sparrows can you see?

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo

I wrote four!

100 day challenge

Read two chapters of a book a day. This works well for me, and I will continue it.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

April 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I read two: 

“Dear Scarlet: The Story of my Postpartum Depression” by Teresa Wong

and 

“Der Erste Tag Vom Rest Meines Lebens” by Lorenzo Marone

Click here to read about them.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I finally finished my first course, and with it my textbook written by Mitchell Hewson.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

I read three.

“the lost spells” by Robert Macfarlane; illustrated by Jackie Morris

This, a companion book to “The Lost Words”, is meant to be spoken aloud. The pictures are as gorgeous as the words. This is one book that I will buy as gifts for people.

Click here for a taste.

“If I Knew Then: Finding wisdom in failure and power in aging” by Jann Arden

I love this memoir. Arden writes like she is talking to you as a best friend, which makes it a pleasurable read. A lot of the book is about embracing your cronehood—something I wholeheartedly agree with—but also about Arden’s past as the daughter of an alcoholic father and an alcoholic herself.

Favourite quotes:

On her dad:

“I am starting to forgive him for being absent, even for being mad all the time. I realize now that he wasn’t mad at us kids or at Mom; he was mad at his own life. “

and

“Sometimes the devil you don’t know isn’t as bad as the devil you do know, and I will never let anybody tell me any different.”

“The Reason I Jump” by Naoki Higashida

A fascinating, much needed, and rather poetically written look into the mind of an autistic teenager, written by a 13 year old autistic boy.

As someone studying horticultural therapy, I appreciated the following passages:

“… our fondness for nature is, I think, a little bit different from everyone else’s. I’m guessing that what touches you in nature is the beauty of the trees and the flowers and things. But to us people with special needs, nature is as important as our own lives. The reason is that when we look at nature, we receive a sort of permission to be alive in this world, and our entire bodies get recharged. However often we’re ignored and pushed away by other people, nature will always give us a good big hug, here inside our hearts. 

“…nature is always there at hand to wrap us up, gently: glowing, swaying, bubbling, rustling…You might think that it’s not possible that nature could be a friend, not really. But human beings are part of the animal kingdom too, and perhaps us people with autism still have some leftover awareness of this, buried somewhere deep down.”

Higashida also writes his own stories, and I really love his story called “The Black Crow and the White Dove”. 

I had no idea that the book had been turned into a movie!

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Done!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week. 

Done!

Here are my favourites:

“We all have privilege to some degree. What we do with it matters.” by Taslim Jaffer

Favourite quote:

“As a brown Muslim woman, I have been the butt of jokes, the target of overtly racist comments and on the receiving end of microaggressions that prick like tiny needles but nonetheless leave scars. 

But I also go unseen in other situations. Like when I am fair enough to escape colourism or when my Muslim identity isn’t obvious because I don’t wear a hijab. Or, like in the case with the clerk casually referring to the “China virus,” I am not the racial group being targeted. 

In those circumstances, I am privileged enough to decide to say something or not.”

“I lost my mother. This is how I know when she’s with me” by Kandace Chapple

Do you have a sign from a departed loved one? When I see a feather, I associate it with my mom.

“The Covid-19 pandemic may be an opportunity to transform the way we live” by
David Suzuki

Favourite quote:

“In this moment of crisis, we should be asking what an economy is for, whether there are limits, how much is enough and whether we are happier with all this stuff.

Can we relearn what humanity has known since our very beginnings — that we live in a complex web of relationships in which our very survival and well-being depend upon clean air, water and soil, sunlight (photosynthesis) and the diversity of species of plants and animals that we share this planet with?

Can we establish a far more modest agenda for ourselves filled with reverence for the rest of creation?

Or will we celebrate the passing of the pandemic with an orgy of consumption and a drive to get back to the way things were before the crisis?”

“How Not to Get Kidnapped: a Suggestive Guide” by Meredith Town

I really enjoyed this hilarious essay.

“Gliding Toward the Sun, an Essay on Cross-Country Skiing” by Kandace Chapple

Favourite part:

“I skated two full strides and figured I was above water over my head. Few swam in these waters even in the hottest days of July because it would mean bringing out a souvenir leech between the toes. It was just as well. Lake Dubonnet is a lake’s lake—all business, no play. The shores housed a thick racket of brush and trees for birds and deer and coyote. The water bred mosquitoes and bluegill and bass. I loved the lake for its solitude. Not once had I come here to find I couldn’t hear the silence on the other side of the lake.”

-Read 5 picture books per month

Done!

My favourites:

“A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart” by Zetta Elliot; illustrated by Noa Denmon

A Black child explores his emotions over the year, and the emotions include joy, fear, anger, pride, and peace.

“Ten Ways to Hear Snow” by Cathy Camper; illustrated by Kenard Pak

On the way to her grandmother’s house to help make a meal, Lina discovers several different ways to listen to snow.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

I am still working on my synopsis for the CANSCAIP contest.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

“Fresh Stories for a New World: Finding Your Stories Through a Practice of Side Writing” with Karen Krossing (SCBWI)

Natalie Goldberg on her new haiku book (Geneen Roth)

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

Alas, I did not do this.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

I attended at least one per week, usually two.

-Blog at least twice a month.

I didn’t blog twice last month, but I have already blogged three times this month.

-Weekly treasure:

My tulip that looks like another flower

Challenges:

100 days

I have done it! I have completed reading my German book! Yay me.

Since the 100 days challenge is not over, I have started a new book written in German, but even after the challenge is done, I’m going to keep reading one book I really want to read but find intimidating using the just two pages a day method.

HaikuForTwo

I wrote two, one from “the lost spells” and the other from “The Reason I Jump”.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees: from “Hamnet” to “off script: Living Out Loud”

It’s the first “Six Degrees” challenge of the year, and I am super excited to see where our book journeys will lead us this year.

For the first chain of 2021, we are going to start with “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell. Alas, I am still waiting for the book from the library, so I’ll have to construct my chain based on the synopsis.

From Goodreads:

“Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child. 

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.”

Let’s dive right in.

“Running on the Cracks” by Julia Donaldson

I also haven’t read this book, but I read recently that Donaldson, more know for children’s books such as “The Gruffalo”, also lost a son. His name was Hamish, and it is in this YA book that he is most present. I have put the book on my TBR list.

“You Won’t Always Be This Sad” by Sheree Fitch

Another children’s book writer—“Mabel Murple” is her most famous book, and it’s a book that is delightful on the tongue—Fitch also lost a son. In this memoir in verse, Fitch writes movingly of the loss and of her reconstructed world. 

“Still: a Memoir of Loss, Love, and Motherhood” by Emma Hansen

On my list for my Mount TBR challenge, this book I acquired from one of the local little libraries is a memoir of one woman’s experience of something little talked about in our society: stillbirth.

“How to Pronounce Knife” by Souvankham Thammavongsa

This 2020 Giller award winning book of short stories pivots around the theme of loss of culture and values. All the main characters are from Laos, a country I’m not too familiar with, but I’m always interested to learn more about other countries and cultures. Favourite quote: “We lose each other, or the way we know each other gets lost”.

“How to Fly: In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons” by Barbara Kingsolver

Though the poems in this book, Kingsolver’s second book of poetry, have many themes, there are many that are threaded with a palpable sense of loss, especially in her section on ancestors. Kingsolver ends her poem about the death of her mother, with whom she had a challenging relationship, with “Here begins my life as no one’s bad daughter.”

“off script: Living Out Loud” by Marci Ien 

Rounding out the list is this book that I mentioned in last week’s blog post. Ien writes about the ups and downs of her career and her personal life, including several significant losses. 

I hope the theme of loss hasn’t gotten you down. As we look back on 2020, we have all experienced some sort of loss, and sometimes reading about others’ loss in some form or another helps us to cope. I hope that you find something to read from this list, and I hope you join us next month where we’ll start with “Redhead by the Side of the Road” by Anne Tyler.

That wraps up my first blog post in 2021! Happy New Year! Here’s to better times in 2021.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler