Lucky Penny Press, the innovative publisher of eBooks for children, has achieved another first: a beautifully illustrated picture book of poetry by Santa Barbara’s poet laureate emerita Perie Longo. Appropriately titled, A Mosaic of Poetry for Kids, the book showcases twelve Longo poems wondrously illustrated by twelve talented artists: Peter Bermant, Cyndi Brooks Burt, Jean Cherouny, Ben Cicatti, Karen Folsom, Robyn Geddes, Izzy Greer, Mary Heebner, Lanny Sherwin, Nancy Shobe, Skip Smith, and Cathy Winton. Most are Central Coast residents save Cherouny, who is the artist-in-residence at the Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington, Vermont; Izzy Greer, who hails from Park City, Utah; and Skip Smith, an Oak Group artist currently living in Detroit, Michigan.
Melissa C. Marsted, the founder and president of Lucky Penny Press, says she reached out to Longo because she wanted to expand her collection of titles for children ages three to ten to include poetry.
“I’m fortunate to know so many amazing artists and storytellers,” she says, “which is why I created Lucky Penny Press—to nurture the creative spirit. Art enriches our lives and when children are exposed to it early, it ignites their own creative fires.”
The two women found their collaboration artistically satisfying—and great fun.
“I was delighted when Melissa invited me to pull together some of the poems I’d written for children for a Lucky Penny Press eBook,” Longo says. “I selected poems that lent themselves to art, and Melissa also sent artists’ work for me to address in poetry.”
The results are magical.
One poem, appropriately called “The Magic of Poetry,” illustrated by Izzy Greer, reminds us,
“You can say anything in a poem
like I am a rhinoceros singing
in the twilight of the morning
or I go to school inside a rose
to learn where the sun travels
at night. You can hear the ocean
laughing like a thousand dolphins
in a poem or the sun singing a song
about the moon as it dips
into the ear of the night.
Remember, loneliness drifts
on the wake of a whale in a poem
and joy lives in your pencil.”
What child—or adult—wouldn’t savor the images sparked by such delightful word combinations? Longo acknowledges that many of the poems she included in this collection were written intentionally to inspire youngsters to write their own poetry. As a thirty-year participant in the California Poets in the Schools (CPITS) program, Longo has long championed the creative spirit in children—which makes her a perfect collaborator with Lucky Penny Press, whose mission is “nurturing the creative spirit.”
Another poem, “About Summer,” illustrated by Karen Folsom, reads,
“The best thing
is that you get to monkey around,
climb trees, swinging
from one day to the next,
feel what it is to be
a bird singing about
the high sky and notice
clouds like whipped cream
in dreamy shapes.
You get to learn other things
like how a lizard sizzles
in the sun and never burns.
You wonder how butterflies
dance on the air
and never fall
so you flap your arms
and learn you too
if you open your mind
and reach for the sun, can fly.”
Although A Mosaic of Poetry for Kids is a picture book, rich with illustrations, several of its selections will appeal to older readers, such as parents. “Walking the Hem of the Sea,” illustrated by Mary Heebner, reads,
“Through morning fog I stroll
as if protected in the pocket
of the sea.
Come afternoon, sun stings my eyes
so I walk with the crabs
to the rhythm of waves’ ebb
At evening, I step mindlessly
into red’s dimension, marveling how
the horizon gulps the sun
as if it is an ice cream cone.
Late night, my cat tumbles
backwards reaching for a string
blown by the whisper
of a ghost. That is when
I reach for my pen, struck
silent, catch images as they spill
from the long summer day.”
Paul Willis, English and creative writing professor of at Westmont College, said of A Mosaic of Poetry for Kids, “It is nothing short of a miracle that Perie Longo can write these poems that bring us back to the tender blessings of childhood. And the art! The intermingling of word and image is superb.”
Like all Lucky Penny Press titles, A Mosaic of Poetry for Kids is available for immediate download from the publisher’s website: http://www.luckypennypress.com. It is also available at iTunes and soon at Amazon. An audio version of the book, narrated by Longo, will be released in April, in time for National Poetry Month.
The books are available in a variety of eReader formats including those for the iPads, iPhones, Kindles, Nooks, MP3 players, and any computer. Every eBook can be downloaded in eReader and audio format either as a package, or separately.
A portion of proceeds from the sale of Lucky Penny Press titles benefit partner nonprofits. Proceeds from A Mosaic of Poetry for Kids will go to support California Poets in the Schools: Inspiring Children’s Imaginations since 1964 http://www.cpits.org.