Monday, March 25, 2019

Slice of Life Story Challenge #25 - The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog

My focus this month is to explore writing invitations, mostly through newly published picture books, but possibly some other mentor texts as well.

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems by Paul B. Janeczko 

What a delightful new anthology of poems, all organized around How-T0s of various kinds: Mix a Pancake, How to Be a Snowflake, A Lesson from the Deaf, and of course, The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog. I LOVE the illustrations by Richard Jones, and all the writing inspiration that could come from this book!

Writing Invitation: Write a How-To Poem or a connection to one of the How-To Poems in this anthology.

     Because there were several poems that reminded me of things I loved as a child or that my children loved (toasting marshmallows, making pancakes, basketball, riding bikes, swinging, playing jacks, watching and drawing birds, making snow angels, catching snowflakes, enjoying fireworks, making grass whistle through my thumbs, and nighttime prayers), I'm going to incorporate both a How-To poem and childhood memories.  I lift a few lines throughout the anthology to help me!

How To Be a Child

Let the sun wake you up
and feel your feet on the cool
oak floors.
It's Saturday! No school!
Stretch and yawn,
hear your tummy rumble for breakfast.
Skip out to the kitchen,
already smelling of something yummy
and laugh at the heart-shaped
pancakes that flip into the air,
and cover them with warm syrup.

Then run out to the yard in bare feet, 
feel the grass tickle your toes
and hear the red-winged blackbird's
conk-la-ree trill,
welcoming a warm spring day.

Pick a blade of crabgrass
flat and wide,
and grass-whistle for your friend
to come over and play H-O-R-S-E
in the driveway.
Aim shoot,
aim miss...that's an H!

When you're tired of that,
run over to the swing,
up in the air till you can see so wide,
so high that the leg of the swing set
pumps up out of the ground.
Making your belly flip-flop,
and drop back down.

After swinging and saying goodbye to that friend, 
grab your bike 
from the garage,
pedal fast over the crunch of the gravel drive.
Head down the road to another friend's house
and skid to a stop. 
You're just in time for tomato soup
and grilled cheese!  
You can smell it through
the screen door.

When you're done with lunch,
it's time for a game of jacks.
Throw them down
on the ground
toss that ball
not too high
now pick, quick.
Man!  She wins again!

Play Barbies all afternoon 
until you have to go home for dinner.
You want to call and beg for more time,
but you know they'll say no.
You still have to do a few
things on the chore list 
before bed.

After hamburgers,
sit out by the fire, stir it with a stick
and toast marshmallows
to a perfect crisp brown
before it bursts into flame.
It tastes like summer,
soon to arrive,
when every day can be like today.

Yawn, stretch.
It's time for bed.
Heavy eyelids start to close.
But first, a prayer,
breathing in and out ---
Thank you, God,
for everything.


  1. I just took this book out of the Library. Isn't it wonderful? So much writing inspiration there.

  2. Holly, you should make all of these posts into a book--it's so fun and inspirational to read how you're working through the process from book to inspiration to writing.

    I love the idea of smelling grilled cheese through the screen door-- many other images too, but that one a lot!

    1. I was just thinking the same thing. It could be a book about responding to picture books. Your posts are such great models. Actually I can visualize this one as a picture book.

  3. Another great post, Holly. I love how you lift a line and then let your ideas spill out so beautifully. I've got to get a copy of this book. Thanks for so much inspiration!

  4. Holly, I really like how you moved from book reviewer to poetry writer once again. The last stanza is an important one for the end of the day. Your spring poem is filled with warmth and sunshine. The combination of How-To poem and childhood memories with some lifted lines has a great topic. Great job!

  5. Love how you used the poems from the book to create this lovely poem. I wrote a poem of lifted lines from this book last week for Poetry Friday. My favorite lines are the ones about toasting marshmallows:
    "It tastes like summer,
    soon to arrive,
    when every day can be like today."
    I love your poem and the book too.