April 12, 2016

Friday, January 16, 2009

Happy Poetry Friday Birthday, Daughter J!

It’s NinjaGirl’s birthday today. She is nine. Nine!
The lucky girl shares a birthday with Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens QB. She could care less. The rest of Baltimore (including her sports-radio addicted mother) is "Wacko for Flacco" as we battle Sunday with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a Superbowl spot.
Her birthday has me thinking about relationships, siblings in particular. I was fussing about in the kitchen one day a few years ago and looked up to see our son (3 years older) and daughter playing in the next room. Something about their play stopped me. I stepped into the room and said, “Do you realize that you’re best friends?” Their response: “Uh, Mom, we know that.” Laughter about Mom’s “duh” moment. Back to playing. I’ve fictionalized their friendship in a free-verse picture book, The Waiting Flower. It’s been at a small publisher, Flashlight Press, for one year! Any minute now, I’ll hear my phone ringing (my year-long mantra). While I’m waiting, a poem about friendship: The Arrow and the Song By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For, so swiftly it flew, the sight Could not follow it in its flight. I breathed a song into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For who has sight so keen and strong, That it can follow the flight of song? Long, long afterward, in an oak I found the arrow, still unbroke; And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend. I love how the stiff arrow is found unchanged. Our locked-in views and ways of thinking leave no room for conversation. The more fluid song is welcoming. Once it’s in the friend’s heart the song becomes something new. I’m tired of the media – TV and children’s books – going for the easy stereotype of embattled siblings. Love the Arthur series on PBS, hate the way they portray Arthur and DW’s relationship. Loved Meg Cabot’s first Allie Finkle book (read a Q&A about the book with Meg Cabot), but Allie and her younger bros never get beyond annoying one another.
The truth about siblings is much more complicated and often more positive. Anyone know of some books where the sibs actually get along? Why not show kids the behavior we aim for, rather than go for the easy stereotype? FYI – One of my favorite parenting books, tops on raising sibs, is Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Come back for a writing exercise on siblings tomorrow…
Meanwhile, check at Big A, Little A for this week's Poetry Friday host.
Oh -- it's Karen Edmisten!


Christina said...

Laura, I always love the poems you post. Thanks for this one by Longfellow.

I know what you mean about the way siblings are portrayed in the media. Though they are a little on the twaddle-y side, my kids enjoyed The Magic Tree House series for years, and Jack and Annie aren't antagonistic toward each other very often at all. Other books--The Saturdays (Enright, I think) and others in this series, Gone Away Lake (Enright again, I think), and Madeleine L'Engle's books all have truer pictures of sibling relationships--not without strife, but not without times when sibs are each other's staunchest supporters.

"See" you next Friday. Have a good weekend.

Author Amok said...

Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. I was thinking of Magic Tree House, too. You're right about L'Engle -- in the Time Quintet she does a wonderful job of showing how complex sib relationships are. I'll check out the other ones you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Hi Laura,
I also like the positive portrayal of the sibling relationship in the Magic Tree House books. What about the siblings in Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series? They're also along the sometimes-bicker-but-always-stand-up-for-one-another model.
One "real-life" observation: in my home, our (9 yo) son and youngest (5 yo) daughter get along better than our oldest (12 yo) daughter and our son. At this point, those maturity (hormone?) issues come into play. I still hold out hope that they will all be "best friends" some day!

Author Amok said...

Hey, Jennifer.

I loved that series when I was a kid. Bought a new set, but haven't reread it yet.

Just like your house, I (the eldest of three) was closest with my youngest brother -- eight years my junior. Still am. Maybe because there was no jockeying for who was in charge. What do you think?

laurasalas said...

Hi Laura--thanks for the poem. I especially love "I breathed a song" and "the flight of song." Something about those two phrases makes me catch my breath.

I also was going to comment on L'Engle's sibling relationships (she's my favorite "classic" children's writer)--but I see Fiddler already did! :>)

And thanks for your comment at my blog. It would be great for you to post the snake poem and the activity/lesson. Capstone actually owns all rights, so I can't actually give permission. But I've posted several poems from each of my books, and anything that helps publicize the book, they're happy with. As long as the title of the book is mentioned, that would be great.

Thanks for checking, and I'm glad the kids like it! I'm doing a bunch of school visits this spring, and I've been trying to choose which poems to share. Guess that will be one of them:>)

Mary Lee said...

How lucky that your kids are best friends!

Author Amok said...

Laura & Mary -- Thanks for stopping by.

Laura, I'll get back in touch before I post the snake poem. Would you send me your email? You can reach me at

Thanks! L