Tag Archives: Melissa Sweet

Two of my favorite things

22 Jan

Unsurprisingly,  two of my favorite past-times are knitting and reading. A perfect stormy day in the Pacific Northwest combines the two – I can knit while listening to an audiobook!

This rainy weekend, I spent a little time not knitting, but reading about fans of my two favorite past-times.

Baabwaa & Wooliamwritten by David Elliott and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is an amusing tale that shows the power of story.


Publisher’s Summary: Baabwaa is a sheep who loves to knit. Wooliam is a sheep who loves to read. It sounds a bit boring, but they like it. Then, quite unexpectedly, a third sheep shows up. A funny-looking sheep who wears a tattered wool coat and has long, dreadfully decaying teeth. Wooliam, being well-read, recognizes their new acquaintance: the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing! The wolf is so flattered to discover his literary reputation precedes him that he stops trying to eat Baabwaa and Wooliam. And a discovery by the sheep turns the encounter into an unexpected friendship.

The book is funny, and, in this time of entrenched  beliefs opposite sides of a great chasm, it offers an intelligent way to bridge the gap.

Never Lost for Words

10 Oct


Three brilliant people came together to crete this marvelous book: Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet and Peter Roget. Bryant and Sweet have come together again to create The Right Word,  a beautiful biography of Roget, the man behind Roget’s Thesaurus. 

Peter Roget created his first book of word lists at age 8.


Like William Carlos Williams,the subject of Bryant & Sweet’s A River of Words,  Roget became a doctor and did his word work in his spare time. Sweet’s illustrations capture Roget’s obsession with synonyms.


Bryant’s prose let’s us see into the mind of someone obsessed with words.  “Words, Peter learned, were powerful things. And when he put them into long, neat rows, he felt as if the world itself clicked into order.” She creates a picture of a sensitive man and makes us aware that Roget wasn’t merely a reclusive scholar. He wanted  his thesaurus to have a democratizing effect: “I want everyone to be able to use my word book, not just doctors, politicians, and lawyers, but cobblers, fishmongers, and factory workers.”

Whether you read this for business (job, work, vocation, livelihood, métier) or pleasure (amusement, enjoyment, thrill, bliss) you will not be disappointed.

Seasonal Poetry for Poetry Season

7 Apr

It is April, and it is poetry season. What better time to look at poems about seasons.


Koo the panda, along with Jon Muth, present this delightful collection of haiku.Twenty-six haiku celebrate the unique natural wonders of each of the four seasons in this charming picture book. Some of the verses will prompt smiles while others will bring readers up short and gently nudge them to look at things from a different perspective. The watercolor illustrations are as expressive as the poems.


Firefly July and Other Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, looks out over a year in very short poems.


The poets in this collection range from Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams  to the unfortunately named Adelaide Crapsey (creator of the cinquain) and former poet laureate Ted Kooser.

There is much to love here. The selection of poems is a place to start. Each of the 30+ little gems can be enjoyed for its own sake. Couple with Melissa Sweet’s illustrations, they are astounding. As a reader, I want to linger with each poem, think of what I would illustrate, want to memorize that poem so I can share it at just the right time.


If you are nervous about poetry, start with one of these two books. They will ease you in. If you are already a fan, just simply enjoy.

The Art of Teaching Writing

25 Nov

Most of my job this year is teaching writing. It is one of my favorite things to teach so I’m always happy to find new resources. When those resources are both funny and helpful, it feels like my birthday.

Unknown-2  Unknown-1

Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and marvelously illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is for a younger audience. Loosely based on “Little Red Riding Hood,” Red Pencil gets lost in the adjective forest, adds too much conjunction glue, and faces the drama of adverbs. When she follows a tail to the principal’s office she discovers something horrible has happened to Principal Granny and she must draw upon her courage to help everyone in the school.

Thrice Told Tale  by Catherine Lewis is more appropriate for  a YA audience. Using the nursery rhyme “Three Blind Mice” Lewis explains writing terms with clever examples.Each term is presented in 1-2 pages with the story of the ill-fated mice taking twists and turns to model the idea and a summary concluding the main idea at the bottom of each page. As cute as this idea is it is really not for a young audience. Some of the terms and examples are complex and two chapters ( “F_ _K” and “Sex”) clearly make it a resource for older writers. It is a wonderful book, though and I actually read it cover to cover because I enjoyed seeing what the author was able to do with “Three Blind Mice”.

%d bloggers like this: