October 7 – Random Acts of Poetry Day

When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano and Julie Morstad

About the Holiday

Today is the day to unleash your inner poet – without thinking twice about it. What are the words in your heart or in your imagination? Write them down! You don’t have to be Shakespeare for your words, lines, thoughts, jottings – your poems – to have meaning and value. Then share them with family, friends, or even strangers. To celebrate today’s holiday you can also attend a poetry reading or enjoy a volume of verse – like today’s book!

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons

Written by Julie Fogliano | Illustrated by Julie Morstad


Sometimes you wish for just the right words to express a moment in time, a skip of the heart, or a glimpse of color that truly captures the elation, sadness, or awe you feel. Those words live on every page of When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons. Each month of the year is represented by three to five dated poems that expose a nugget of inspiration or a spark of recognition about the natural world and our place in it.

Spring begins its reawakening in the poem dated march 20, on which “from a snow covered tree / one bird singing / each tweet poking / a tiny hole / through the edge of winter / and landing carefully / balancing gently / on the tip of spring.”


Image copyright Julie Morstad, text copyright Julie Fogliano. Courtesy of us.mcmillan.com

Spring is slow in shaking off its winter coat, however, and march 22 finds “just like a tiny, blue hello / a crocus / blooming in the snow” Even though the days continue to dawn chilly and rainy, early flowers long to see the sun. On march 26: “shivering and huddled close / the forever rushing daffodils / wished they had waited.”

With the onset of April and no reprieve from the weather, everyone it seems is tired of the persistence of winter, which sticks around like a party guest who doesn’t know when to go home. On april 3 “today / the sky was too busy sulking to rain / and the sun was exhausted from trying / and everyone / it seemed / had decided / to wear their sadness / on the outside / and even the birds / and all their singing / sounded brokenhearted / inside of all that gray.”


Image copyright Julie Morstad, text copyright Julie Fogliano. Courtesy of us.mcmillan.com

At last summer comes and on june 15 “you can taste the sunshine / and the buzzing / and the breeze / while eating berries off the bush / on berry hands / and berry knees.” The warm days also bring swimming holes and fireflies, and by july 10 “when green becomes tomatoes / there will be sky / and sun / and possibly a cloud or two…” and summer bursts with all the wonder that makes it such a yearned for season. 

Then as summer wanes and the nights grow dark, september 10 makes you look into that deep vast space and think “a star is someone else’s sun / more flicker glow than blinding / a speck of light too far for bright / and too small to make a morning”


Image copyright Julie Morstad, text copyright Julie Fogliano. Courtesy of us.mcmillan.com

A nip in the air means Fall has come around again. It’s time for sweaters and pumpkins, and for the trees to rest. If you listen carefully, you may hear on november 2 “more silent than something / much noisier than nothing / the last leaf / when it landed / made a sort of sound / that no one knew they heard.”

Then on december 21 “as if one day, the mountain decides / to put on its white furry hat / and call it winter” the season has changed, bringing with it crackling, cozy fires and snow, snow, snow. But this too offers its own enchantment on december 29: “and i woke / to a morning / that was quiet / and white / the first snow / (just like magic) came / on tiptoes / overnight.”


Image copyright Julie Morstad, text copyright Julie Fogliano. Courtesy of us.mcmillan.com

When Green Becomes Tomatoes begins and ends with a poem dated the same day—March 20, the vernal equinox—giving this book a cyclical form that echoes the passing of time. Julie Fogliano’s delicate and gentle poems are a perfect tonic for the busy, non-stop days the year becomes. Instead of letting the surprising, profound, or beautiful moments pass us by Fogliano gives readers a reason and a way to stop and fully enjoy them.  

In Julie Morstad’s gorgeous watercolors of nature and the changing seasons, readers can almost feel the warm sunshine that feeds the vivid spring and summer blooms, the icy breeze that loosens the last leaf of autumn, and the fluffy blanket winter tucks around the earth. The multiethnic children in Morstad’s paintings are thoughtful, charming, and enchanted with the world around them, actively experiencing the marvels of each changing day. 

When Green Becomes Tomatoes contains such lovely verses that readers will want to revisit them over and over – the way the seasons recur and we are always glad to welcome each one back. This volume of poetry would make a wonderful gift and a terrific addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

Ages 6 and up (adults will enjoy these poems too)

Roaring Brook Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1596438521

You can connect with Julie Fogliano on Facebook!

You’ll find a gallery of picture books, prints, and other illustrations on Julie Morstad‘s website!

Random Acts of Poetry Day Activity

CPB - Plant Poem


Grow a Poem Craft


A poem often grows in your imagination like a beautiful plant—starting from the seed of an idea, breaking through your consciousness, and growing and blooming into full form. With this craft you can create a unique poem that is also an art piece!


  • Printable Leaves Template, available here and on the blog post
  • Printable Flower Template, available here and on the blog post
  • Wooden dowel, ½-inch diameter, available in craft or hardware stores
  • Green ribbon
  • Green craft paint
  • Green paper if leaves will be preprinted
  • Colored paper if flowers will be preprinted
  • Flower pot or box
  • Oasis, clay, or dirt
  • Hole punch
  • Glue
  • Markers or pens for writing words
  • Crayons or colored pencils if children are to color leaves and flowers


  1. Paint the dowel green, let dry
  2. Print the leaves and flower templates
  3. Cut out the leaves and flowers
  4. Punch a hole in the bottom of the leaves or flowers
  5. Write words, phrases, or full sentences of your poem on the leaves and flowers (you can also write the poem after you have strung the leaves and flowers)
  6. String the leaves and flowers onto the green ribbon (if you want the poem to read from top to bottom string the words onto the ribbon in order from first to last)
  7. Attach the ribbon to the bottom of the pole with glue or tape
  8. Wrap the ribbon around the pole, leaving spaces between the ribbon
  9. Gently arrange the leaves and flowers so they stick out from the pole or look the way you want them to.
  10. Put oasis or clay in the flower pot or box
  11. Stick your poem pole in the pot
  12. Display your poem!

Picture Book Review

August 21 – Poet’s Day


About the Holiday

Today celebrates the poet—that special person who looks at the world and transforms it into lines of rhyme, rhythm, metaphor, and meaning that make readers experience life and sometimes even the most common occurrence in a whole new way. Some poetry is poignant, some evocative, and some silly, but it all provides different perspectives and enriches our lives—even the youngest among us!

A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young

Written by Michael Rosen | Illustrated by Chris Riddell


Before children learn to speak and in order for them to become literate and proficient readers, they discover the sounds of language. The poems in A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young are all about those snappy, rhyming, musical syllables that make up speech and text. The collection’s 35 poems replicate the progression of language learning from the first offering—Tippy-Tappy, with its staccato repetition of “ippy, appy, eppy, oppy, uppy sounds—to Gruff and Dave and The Slow Train that provide longer, more detailed storytelling.


Image copyright Chris Riddell, courtesy of Candlewick Press

The subjects are familiar to even tiny children whose worlds include the buttons, parties, pets, music, and other topics treated with innovation in this collection. The juxtaposition of words, concepts, questions, and nonsense, will keep kids laughing even as they are (probably) unconsciously soaking in the rich learning.

I Went is an example in which multiple concepts combine to create a funny travelogue with double meaning twists:

“I went to Lapland / I saw a reindeer on the loose. / I went to Canada / I saw a chocolate mousse.  I went to the river / I saw a big green frog. / I went to New York / I saw a hot dog.”

Bendy Man describes a rather unique fellow with special talents that kids would love to get to know. It starts like this:

“Bendy Man, Bendy Man / He’s a long leggy man. / Bendy Man, Bendy Man / In a baked-bean can. Bendy Man, Bendy Man / Wraps round trees / Bendy Man, Bendy Man / Can’t find his knees.”

Along the way there are also poems to validate kids’ emotions, which come in shades of happiness, bounciness, anger, satisfaction, and frustration among others, as well as to comfort them when they get hurt or scared as in the poem Mo: “Mo’s in a muddle / She slipped in a puddle / Mommy gives Mo / A great big cuddle.”


Image copyright Chris Riddell, courtesy of Candlewick Press

Let Me Do It is an exuberant tribute to a child’s eagerness to help: “Let me do it, let me do it / Let me blow up the balloon / Let me do it, let me do it / Let me go to the moon.                 Let me cook the beans / Let me lick the jar / Let me kick the ball / Let me drive the car.” But as often happens with inexperience, the tasks become a bit confused later in the poem: “Let me drive the beans / Let me kick the jar / Let me lick the ball / Let me cook the car.”

Michael Rosen’s love of language and quirky, kid-like personality are on full display in A Great Big Cuddle, much to the benefit of his young fans. Rosen is able to tap into and capture those fleeting ideas and “wouldn’t it be cool if…” moments that fuel kids’ imaginations and actions. Life is much too long and much too short not to spend some of it in absurd hilarity, and Rosen provides a book full of that respite here.

Chris Riddell infuses each of the poems with the personalities of enthusiastic children, adorable monsters, familiar animals, and high-spirited action. The large, full-bleed pages allow for full-size fun and a variety of typography. The bold colors will attract even the smallest reader and keep them riveted to the sounds and sights of this excellent poetry collection for young children.


Image copyright Chris Riddell, courtesy of Candlewick Press

Older kids will also find much to enjoy in the humorous spirals taken by the lines in A Great Big Cuddle. Some poems, such as  I Am Hungry, in which a bear in a bib states everything he will eat, would make a great teaching tool about what can and cannot logically be consumed.

Because A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young is perfect for dipping into again and again, you’ll be happy to have it close it hand on your shelves.

Ages Birth – 6

Candlewick, 2015 | ISBN 978-0763681166

Visit Michael Rosen’s website to see his amazing range of books, poems, events, TV and radio programs and more!

Follow the Cycling Fish through a tour of Chris Riddell’s artwork!

Poet’s Day Activity


A Pair of Bears (Pear of Bears? Pair of Bairs?) Coloring Pages and Poem Prompts


The two bears in these coloring pages are having different days—one is grumpy while the other is happy. Color the printable A Pair of Bears Coloring Pages and then write one or two poems about them!

Bear 1

Bear 2

Picture Book Review

July 22 – National Hammock Day


About the Holiday

Holidays don’t get more leisurely than this one! Perhaps invented by the Ancient Greeks, perhaps created by people in South America according to Christopher Columbus’s journals, hammocks are the epitome of relaxation. What better time is there to kick back and lounge than during the hot, hazy days of July? So enjoy—and read a book, like today’s collection of poetry!

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems

Selected by Paul B. Janeczko | Illustrated by Melissa Sweet


Firefly July is perfect for lazy summer days when light, but still meaningful reading enjoyed in a hammock or under a shady tree is relaxation at its best. Paul B. Janeczko has collected 36 short (none are over eight lines long) poems from some of the best poets of today and yesterday. Haiku, free form, and rhyming verses illuminate the seasons of the year and encapsulate unforgettable sights, sounds, and feelings.

A girl’s spring’s respite spent gazing into the bay from shore is depicted in Lillian Morrison’s The Island:

“Wrinkled stone / like an elephant’s skin / on which young birches are treading.”


Image copyright Melissa Sweet, courtesy of amazon.com

A nighttime train trip provides mystery and ongoing changes in Carl Sandburg’s Window:

“Night from a railroad car window / Is a great, dark, soft thing / Broken across with slashes of light.”

Joyce Sidman’s A Happy Meeting likens a summer rain to romance and life:

“Rain meets dust: / soft, cinnamon kisses. / Quick noisy courtship, / then marriage: mud.”

At the seashore, beach birds are industrious in April Halprin Wayland’s Sandpipers:

“Sandpipers run with / their needle beaks digging—they’re / hemming the ocean.”


Image copyright Melissa Sweet, courtesy of amazon.com

Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser ask such a beguiling question for autumn:

“What is it the wind has lost / that she keeps looking for / under each leaf?”

And the rising giants of city life inspired Susan Nichols Pulsifer in Tall City:

“Here houses rise so straight and tall / That I am not surprised at all / To see them simply walk away / Into the clouds—this misty day.”

Along the way readers will encounter a pickup truck loaded with old rotary fans and another rusting in a field; fog that decorates and creeps; animals and insects that share our space; our past, our present, and our future. And when it’s time to close the book, Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser reveal:

“A welcome mat of moonlight / on the floor. Wipe your feet / before getting into bed.”


image copyright Melissa Sweet, courtesy of melissasweet.net

I can only wish I’d been able to visit Melissa Sweet’s studio while she created the illustrations for this book! Each painting is as unique in style, beauty, and emotional effect as the poems they interpret. Her renditions of each poem help readers—especially children unfamiliar with metaphor and abstract imaging—to fully understand and appreciate each poem while also leaving room for personal reflection.

The first thing that strikes a reader when opening Firefly July is the gorgeous juxtaposition and mixture of vibrant color. Her illustrations take readers on a journey from an aqua farm house with a patchwork garden to a serene elephantine rock island to the deep turquoise ocean traversed by ships while the full moon beams down upon them. Readers ride crowded subways, gaze out moving train windows, and visit cities bright in daylight and glowing at night. They frolic through fields of delicate grasses and vibrant flowers, quietly walk snowy paths, and take their place among the stars.

Firefly July is as stunning as any coffee table book and is a must for a young reader’s—or any poetry lover’s—library.

Ages 4 and up

Candlewick Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-0763648428

Take a look at more books and artwork by Melissa Sweet on her website!

National Hammock Day Activity


Lazy Days Coloring Page


Coloring can be so relaxing—perfect for a day dedicated to kicking back! Color this printable Lazy Days Coloring Page and dream of lounging beside the lake, with the gentle breeze gently rocking the hammock, while you drift off to sleee….zzzz…..

February 7 – Popcorn Day

CPB - Popcorn Astronauts

About the Holiday

While National Popcorn Day is often celebrated in January, some people believe that Superbowl Sunday is the perfect day to celebrate this tasty treat. I say why not celebrate it on both days! The history of popcorn goes back to the Aztecs and beyond. Early explorers of the 1500s wrote about native peoples roasting corn until it popped and described it as looking like a “white flower.” The natives ate it and strung it to use for decoration.

Most people now eat popcorn with salt and butter, but can you imagine having it with milk? Way before Corn Flakes and Cheerios came on the scene people ate it as cereal! And popcorn really became popular during the Great Depression, when it was one of the only inexpensive treats people could afford. Why not pop up a batch and snuggle in to read today’s reviewed  picture book. For more interesting Popcorn Facts visit www.popcorn.org.

The Popcorn Astronauts and Other Biteable Rhymes

Written by Deborah Ruddell | Illustrated by Joan Rankin


Deborah Ruddell’s rollicking poems celebrate the delicacies each season offers, and they are as fresh and surprising as that first luscious taste of strawberries after a cold winter. For National Popcorn Day, and Ruddell and Rankin offer a unique take on those fluffy nuggets which, like floating astronauts, are as light as air.

In these rhymes that are as fun to say as they are to hear, kids will meet a strawberry queen, a picky ogre, and peaches with “flannelpajamaty” skin. They will also learn the ingredients for an impromptu picnic and wonder what ingredient creates that indescribable taste of the smoothie supreme. And if you’d like to know how a poet orders a milkshake or if Dracula ever gets tired of his nightly routine, you’ll find the clever answers here.

Joan Rankin’s vivid illustrations enhance each poem with plenty of action, humor, and expressive characters to keep kids giggling and lingering over each page.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster, New York, 2015 | ISBN 978-1442465558

Popcorn Day Activity

CPB - popcorn1

Popcorn Blast-Off Game

The popcorn is flying! Can you catch it? This is a fun game to celebrate this most delicious day! And if you keep the popcorn socks, it will make a great quick activity for those times when you want to get up and move but just don’t know what to do.


  • 6 pairs of girls socks – white
  • A large bag of cotton ballsCPB - popcorn2
  • Towel or small blanket


  1. Stuff the socks with a large handful of cotton balls (about 25)
  2. Knot the sock as you would a balloon and fold down the remaining sock
  3. Squish the sock to move the cotton balls until your sock looks like a piece of popcorn
  4. Players hold each end of the towel or side of the blanket so it sags
  5. Place popcorn in the middle of the towel or blanket
  6. On the count of 3, players pull tight on the towel or blanket
  7. Try to catch as many flying popcorn pieces in the towel or blanket as you can