Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Tom Hannah - March 29

Happy Birthday Tom Hannah - March 29

Back in April 2010, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tom and Tess Hannah, authors of The Endless String: Poems for Children and the People Who Read to Them.   This was my first ever interview I conducted in my "Surprise Party" Series.  I am still very appreciative that they agreed to the interview.  It allowed me to experiment with a new idea and find a format that was going to work for my blog.  Not only that,  it also gave me the confidence as a blogger that I was searching for at the time. 

My children and I revisited The Endless String this week to celebrate Tom Hannah's birthday.  In the book, there are over 60 poems and many are illustrated with simple black line art by his wife Tess Hannah.   I read many of the poems to my daughter, age 5, and my son, age 3.  Tom and Tess recommend their poems for children up to the age of twelve. There is a great variety of poems throughout the book, and you are sure to find one that will make you laugh!

I contacted Tom to wish him Happy Birthday and he responded with:

Thanks for the chance to share our book again.  I am forwarding a poem that my wife wrote which I love.  Someday if we do another book, I think this poem will be the title of the book.

Hungry for a Good Book?

I tasted a good book today;
it really was delicious!
The appetizer (chapter one)
an ogre, huge and vicious.

His hairy body on my plate
was really not appealing;
I thought I'd try a nibble though...
it sent my senses reeling.

The entree soon came dashing in
with words for me to taste,
two angry dueling characters
who 'round the placement raced.

The action whet my appetite
I hungered for much more.
Their battle raged so brutally,
my plate crashed on the floor!

The plot soon seemed to thicken
like gravy on high heat,
my stomach churning all the while,
which morsel should I eat?

I anxiously continued
though my nerves were nearly numb.
I didn't want to miss the end,
not even one small crumb.

The climax to the story came
with all the foes defeated,
the final skirmish so intense,
I barely could stay seated.

Ingredients most surely came
from mixes of great writing.
Dessert at my house never was
so filling or exciting.

I think I'd like to maybe try
another tasty fable;
I only hope that there is room
upon my kitchen table!


I thought I would repost the interview from April 28, 2010 to celebrate Tom Hannah's birthday.  Don't forget to check out the lesson ideas provided by Happy Birthday Author at the end of the post!

Happy Birthday Author: What was your motivation to write a book of poetry for children?

Tom and Tess Hannah: Our motivation for writing a poetry book for children came from our own children.  There were so many humorous events occuring all around us on a daily basis, that we just felt the need to record them in an entertaining way.

Happy Birthday Author: Where do your ideas for poems come from?

Tom and Tess Hannah: The ideas that gave birth to some of the individual poems actually came from our own childhood memories (cleaning out closets, eating vegetables, etc.) and from our experiences while parenting four children.

Happy Birthday Author:  What is your favorite poem in the book?

Tom Hannah: My favorite poem is "What's in Your Closet?", because it was a constant theme at my house during my growing-up years. I eventually lost the battle and my mother threw out all of my "good stuff".

Tess Hannah: My favorite poem is "I'm Stuck on You" (a poem about stuff getting stuck to your shoe), because it was the most fun to write. It gave me a vehicle for being as wacky as possible.

Happy Birthday Author:  How do you think poetry can be used in the home?

Tom and Tess Hannah:  Poetry has so many features that make it "user friendly". Our own children loved reading poetry books at home because they were so easy to pick up, read a bit, and put down, without being committed to a chapter book.  Our children all had their favorite poets and poems.

Happy Birthday Author:  What routines of reading did you have for your children as they were growing up?

Tom and Tess Hannah:  Like many parents, our bedtime routine always included a story or two after the little ones were tucked into bed.  We also read frequently ourselves because we felt that it was important to model that behavior.  During the school year we always had a "no TV night" each week when the whole family would follow academic pursuits, which meant reading after homework was finished. Reading during summer vacation was also important to us.

Happy Birthday Author: What are your future plans as authors?

Tom and Tess Hannah:  As far as plans for another book, we have a number of poems already started, and one longer poem that could be a children's picture book as well.

Happy Birthday Author:  We are all about books and birthdays here.  When are your birthdays?

Tom Hannah:  March 29
Tess Hannah: October 11

Happy Birthday Author: Do you have a favorite birthday memory or tradition?

Tess Hannah:  My favorite birthday tradition is using our "You are Special" red plate to celebrate the birthday person's big day.

Tom Hannah:  My birthday falls on the same day as my grandfather. There was always an extra special celebration at their house for his birthday.  On my 16th birthday, I received my grandfather's watch that he used on the railroad.  Now many years later whenever I wind the watch, I think of him.

Happy Birthday Author:  Any additional thoughts?

Tess Hannah:  When I'm trying to inspire my 6th grade students to find their "inner poets, I tell them that poetry is like words to a song.  They are just words on a page until you HEAR them.  Poems are meant to be read aloud in order to enjoy the music of poetry.

Lesson Ideas

1.  Fluency Development Lesson based upon research by Tim Rasinsky, Ph.D for the poem Later, Gator by Tom and Tess Hannah - Click here for the printable lesson plan -

2. Vocabulary and Fluency Lesson for the poem Too Much to Swallow by Tom and Tess Hannah - Click here for the printable lesson plan -

3. Additional poetry lesson plans from TomandTessHannah.com

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