Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Out of the 'drawer', blow off the dust . . .

OK fellow Blogerators . . . Children's Books. I've just metaphorically pulled this out of a drawer and blown a lot of dust off of it. What do you think? Shall I illustrate it? Shall I send out just the text? Shall I put it back in the drawer and leave it for another fifteen years? Do you suppose there is a market for a book of poems about color? Do you suppose I will ever really send anything anywhere? What do you think?

What Color Is a Rainbow?

Edwina Peterson Cross

What color is a rainbow?
Is it something that you dream?
Are its iridescent colors
Always what they seem?

What color are the feelings
that paint and shine your world?
Vivid, bright sensations
Like Kaleidoscopes are whirled . . .
Making Multicolored patterns
In the thoughts you think each day
Thoughts that dress themselves in words
And come out to dance and play

Words are such rich colored things
Full of luster, flash and flare,
Do you ever wonder
What colors words would wear?

What color is love?
Is it pink and sweet
Filling all your empty spaces
To make your world complete?
Is it round and red?
Is it soft and warm?
A coat for the cold
And shelter from the storm

What color is sad?
Some say it is blue
Rain crying down the windows
When spring is over-due
Perhaps sadness is transparent
With no place left to hide
Like a worn out plastic bag
With nothing left inside

What color is joy?
A cloud of pinky peach
The fullest, roundest happiness
That you can ever reach
A peach pinky apricot
Sparkled through with gold
Almost more delight
Than your heart can hold

What color is fear?
Is it black or white?
The iceblack grip
of terror in the night
When you look straight at fear
Perhaps it is grey . . .
Sucking your strength
And your courage away

What color is dizzy?
Short of chartreuse green
When the sky and world are spinning
and you’re stuck between

What color is fun?
A lemon yellow butterfly
Cherry red balloons
Against a turquoise sky
A breath-bright day
Of china blue and winter white
With boot tracks and igloos
and a snowball fight!

What color is hate?
Red and black
With a sneering lip
And a monkey on it’s back
Red for anger
Black that is blind
With bitter eyes
And a slammed shut mind

What color is calm?
Smooth lilacblue
Soft serenity and tranquility
Of silken orchid hue
Hushed plum-colored twilights
Strung with summer quiet sound
Deep slow breath moments
When you taste the peace you’ve found

What color is silly?
I think it must be yellow
A dandelion ridiculous
Butter fellow
Giggling away
At some corny joke
That is tickling in his middle
Like a loony yellow yoke

What color is a song?
Does it change on every note?
Shrill luting crimson
From a cardinals throat
A cradle song or lullaby
In baby pink or blue
A gold and ivory symphony
It’s message old and new
A red-orange crackling fire song
For camp or Halloween
And holly covered Winter Carols
Must be red and green

What color is cold?
Icecrystal blue
Shot with silver shadows
With white shivers raining through

What color is proud?
Purple and strong
a full quiet color
with a satisfied song
When you have worked
and you have won
When you have sealed
A job well done
There is a proud purple lift
To your eyes that will show
Respect for the most
Important person you know

What color is a burp?
Burbling bubbles of pea green
Blurps of sulphur yellow . . .
Or something in between?

What color is sleep?
Is it midnight blue
With slices of a silver
Morning showing through?
Or is it pearl pink
Like the wet moon’s beams
Shimmering full
Of bright sweet dreams?
Maybe it is black
When sleep is the best
Deep velvet black
Filled with peace and rest

What color is a sneeze?
Sulphoncyanie . . . .
Ah . . . Ah . . . Azogrenadine!
Phenosafraine . . . .
Ah . . .Ah . . . Ah . . .
Ah . . . Schweinfurt green!
A sneeze must be a color
That I have never seen!

What color is a hug
As yellow as the sun
A canary yellow feeling
That can’t be felt by one
A perfect pressing moment
A wish that you must share
An armful of yellow roses
To show how much you care

What color is comfort?
Chocolate brown
A handmade quilt
Of tawny goose down
Cinnamon toast
When its cold outside
Hot cocoa and a friend
With secrets to confide

What color is excitement?
Red and Gold
The blaze orange of autumns
First blush of cold
Is excitement silverblack
Like a carnival night?
The skyblack gasp
Or a roller coaster flight!

What color is relief?
A wash of dove gray
When your heart slows to normal
And you know everything’s OK

What color is bored
a flat, stale brown
When your thinking shuts off
And your mind sits down

What color is warm?
A soft pink glow
Like that spot inside
Where kind thoughts grow
A ruby colored warmth
When pink and red blend
Like a smile that says, “I like you . . .
You are my friend.”

What color is a shout?
Orange and LOUD!
A bold, bright color
That you can hear above a crowd
Until someone says “be quiet!”
So you grab your vivid speech
Wrap it is some creamy cotton
And your whisper is peach.

What color is a yawn?
Yellow and blue
With a tired stretching scrap
of green showing through

What color is lonely
Lavendergray . . .
Like the long slow hours
Of an endless day
The world drones on
In a purple monotone
Things can be grey and empty
When you are all alone.

What color is a laugh?
A froth of yellow and pink
Like the bubbles in the joyful juice
that unicorns drink

What color is magic?
Sometimes it is gold
The flashy kind of magic
Full of “Wonders to Behold”
There is silver magic
Made of music and of star
The secret spinning of the heavens
Like silvered singing from afar
There is an Old Earth Magic
In ancient shades of brown and green
The emerald mystery of the forest
the touch of things unseen
And there is a simple magic
Stronger than any that you’ve heard
The black on white bewitchment
Of the written word
The wizardry of language
The Sweet spell of a poem
The power in the meaning
Of words . . . like “love” and “home”

What color are dreams?
Now you tell me . . .
What colors are the hopes
And the dreams that you see?

Your creative thought can paint them
In a splash of rainbow hues
Reds and yellows, browns and greens
Purples, orange and blues

There is no limit
To the colors you can be
Once that you believe you can
And you set your dreaming free

Imagination and belief
Are lights that can shine through
The prism of your dreams . . .
Then the rainbow is you!


So . . .
Did you happen to think
As you read a certain song
“She has the color of that word
Quite wrong!
Lonely can’t be purple,
I think it’s pale blue”
Or . . . “Green for dizzy
will never, never do”

Then get out your pen and paper
And write down just what is true
What color are sleep and love
and lonely to you?

Now here’s the truth about words:
They are chameleons, you see
They change their colors
As they move from you to me
The only one who really knows
The things that words can do
As their colors bloom inside
Is the one and only YOU

So, (I dare you now!) pick up that pen
And set your rainbow free
And while you are about it
Perhaps you can tell me
What color is weird?
Or Lazy? or Time?
What color is nervous?
What color is a rhyme?

I’ll bet that you thought
This rainbow game was done
Hold on to your hat!
Its only just begun!

©Edwina Peterson Cross

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Making Pop Fiction

Patrons at Soul Food will be aware that I have been working with Sarah Boland to introduce Pop Fiction to the classes at LaTrobe. The project has been so successful that we are already planning the next book to introduce to the school.

In third term I expect to be working with Anthony Eaton an Australian writer with a number of successful books under his belt. This Easter I read through a stack and the most gripping of the pile was 'New Kind of Dreaming.'

An Amazon review sums up the story line. "In the desolate Australian bushland lies a mysterious town where Jamie Riley is sent to live for two years in foster care for car theft. The 17-year-old comes to realize that things are dreadfully amiss in sleepy Port Barren, and he is soon drawn into the mystery that eats away at the heart of the town and threatens to do him in. Soon Jamie, once the pursued, begins to pursue justice and finds the secret long buried that still haunts the area. This thriller is bound to enthrall even the most reluctant reader. At times surreal and dreamy, the careful writing is as spare as the countryside it describes. In fact, Eaton has breathed life into the setting so that it exists as another character. A well-rounded, thoroughly enjoyable story, adeptly told."

At this stage though it will be the quite funny 'Nathan Nuttboard Hits the Beach' that I introduce to readers from Prep through to Year 9. I think they will have a lot of fun making digital art to represent some of the events in this little gem.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Welcome to Narnia

My Favorite Children's Books

I remember a world where good was ultimately stronger than evil, where courage, justice, love and mercy were woven into the fabric of sky and being; where animals talked as they ought to and the spirits of trees danced. I remember a world where I caught the wind easily in my simple, wild winds and soared on the wind whispers of deep, real magic. I remember a world made of words, words that painted inside my mind when I was very young, the reality of a forever dream. I came through the darkness and saw in the distance a light...

don’t know how old I was when I read C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books for the first time. I have no memory of this world without that one. I grew up with the Fords of Beruna being every bit as real as the canal up the street and just as accessible. There is much that is memorable in Professor Lewis’s magically simple mystical tales. The Professor was a master story teller, his language is natural, clear and glowing with some of the most charming imagery in all of children’s literature. This volume of mine deals with one aspect of Lewis’s books that is most memorable indeed . . . his descriptions of food. Professor Lewis was a wizard when it came to the narrative and portrayal of food. Even as a small child I knew it was virtually impossible to get very far in one of his books without having to go and get something to eat. During the Christmas holidays every year when we were growing up, my brother and I would fix vast platters of food; turkey and ham, pickles and home made bread dripping honey; and climb with them and all seven Narnia books into a self fashioned window seat on top of a high cabinet backed by a large stained glass window. There in our “Narnian Ship” we would sail, munching pickles, washed in shades of crimson, green and blue, until either the books or the food ran out; or until someone found us and made us go to bed. Even though the platters were huge, the food usually ran out first.

Please come into the halls of the Soul Food Café and see what I have done with my memories of Narnian Food!


The Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton

When I was little my favourite collection was Enid Blyton's 'The Faraway Tree'. I am not sure how many times I visited the lands above the Faraway Tree but I do know that I longed to go to the Enchanted Wood and meet Moonface, Silky and the Saucepan Man. In 2001 when I visited England I looked for woods like the one Blyton set the Faraway Tree in and yearned to walk among the bluebells, down the path that Jo, Bessie and Fanny wandered after they had finished their chores. I found 100 acre wood but the Faraway Tree eluded me.

Needless to say when my children were tiny I took the opportunity to revisit the Woods and listen to the wisha wisha of the trees once more. None of the enchantment was lost on them and we spent happy hours curled up dreaming of those faraway places. My daughter moved on to the Hobbit and was reading Lord of the Rings by the time she was eight. Watership Down, Narnia, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Grey Men and a host of other titles spring before me as I write. My front room bookshelves are filled to overflowing with the books that we read.

Last year, in our final English class my students dressed up in their pyjamas and I read them books like the Little Red Engine and we all chug a chugged at the right places. What a pity that some people put these classics away when they bring such joy to people of all ages.


Friday, March 11, 2005

My favorite children's book

My mom always read me my favorite story when I was a child. It was called "The Story about Ping" by Marjorie Flack. When my daughter was about two I remembered the book and went on a search. I was amazed that it was still around. A copy of it sits on the desk beside me. The little yellow duck on the Yangtze river was always late and in fear of a spanking.

My mother was born in Hong Kong and has always had wonderful stories of her own to tell me about growing up there including the story about her kicking a police officer in the seat of his pants when she was twelve. Remind me to tell you that one some day (my kids thought it was pretty funny - imaging grandma doing that!)


The Girl Who Never Grew Up

Most of my favorite books are 'children's books.' As a reader I don't make much of a distinction in my head between 'children's books' and 'adult's books.' I believe, as did C.S. Lewis, that a good Children's Book is a good book, period. Of course editors do make a distinction and if you write, knowing what those are is a good thing. The truth, of course, that anyone who knows me very well could tell you is that I don't make much of a distinction between BEING an adult and BEING a child either. While being mature is necessary upon occasion, turning into a "groan-up" has never appealed to me. We are glad to be here . . . my inner child and I. (I shall sign our childhood name.) ~ Wina

Setting up Residency in Lemurian Children's Corner

Luc Melanson is an illustrator whose Portfolio B, Childrens Book will fire the imagination of anyone considering writing a children's book.

With shades of the Owl and the Pussy Cat sailing off in a pea green boat, Lemurians recently packed up their hampers and set out for Lemurian shores.

Why not pack up your pens, paper, pencils, paint, easels and visual journal supplies and set out for this mythical land? You can visit any time! I have left a key behind the clump of marigolds. Lemuria is peopled by an interesting bunch of creatives with distinctive, unique voices. Why not consider setting up residency?