Blog Tour! “Soccer Ball” by Joan Bransfield Graham + Giveaway!


A sports-loving boy who can’t stop writing poetry?


That sounds like a great premise for a book! Gee, I’m surprised no one has written that yet…oh, wait! Someone has! And it’s

Joan Bransfield Graham!

Joan’s new book came out just yesterday, and I’m pleased to be part of the blog tour for it, which was kicked off by Sylvia Vardell. And that’s not all — today’s hop post is an international affair that involves a poetry prompt and a giveway! What more could you want, people? How about this snazzy cover?


I had a great time reading Joan’s inventive poems, all wrapped up in a story about a boy named Ryan O’Brian who can’t stop writing. The book jacket sums it up perfectly:


And I really love the back matter where Joan explains many of the poetic forms and voices she uses in the book. Here’s a sneak peek…


I’ll let Joan take it from here!

Olympic excitement!
…is in the air with the Games beginning in Sochi, Russia on Feb. 7. The Olympics have always intrigued me. One of the first things I ever published was a craft idea for Ranger Rick’s Nature Magazine. It featured pine cone/bumpy chenille monkeys performing Olympic sports–downhill skiers with popsicle stick skis, a bobsled team on a Magnolia leaf, and figure skaters with paper clip skates; I wrote the directions as a poem. Also, The Writer magazine once published a piece of mine in which I turned freelance writing into an Olympic decathlon sport. (Click to enlarge the poem below.)

(c) Used by permission of Ranger Rick’s Nature Magazine.

Poetry prompt!
Renée and I thought it might be fun to issue an Olympic Writing Challenge. In my new book THE POEM THAT WILL NOT END: Fun with Poetic Forms and Voices, Ryan O’Brian writes a “Soccer Ball” poem. This is a poem where he addresses or “speaks to” the soccer ball, which, of course, will not answer — and that’s called an apostrophe poem or poem of address. (Click to enlarge.)

Soccer Ball
Text (c) Joan Bransfield Graham. Illustration (c) Kyrsten Brooker

Now you try! Think of a Winter Olympics sport and “speak to” a piece of sporting equipment. Will it be skis, ice skates, snowboard?

Teachers — You can also check out Joan’s Teacher Idea Sheet (PDF) for more cross-curricular lesson ideas.

International intrigue and giveaway!
But wait, we’re going to dial this up a notch. This is now an international event because, after you post your poem here, you can ski jump from Renée’s place in Italy over to the wonderful April Halprin Wayland’s place at in the U.S. and try out the same sporting equipment as a mask poem, where it “speaks” for itself. All those who post a poem or make a comment on THIS post will be entered in a drawing for a book! Let the Games begin!


Be sure to check out the other blog tour posts!

  • Monday, Jan. 27: Poetry for Children — Dr. Sylvia Vardell with a behind-the-scenes look at the book.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 28: Tales from the Rushmore Kid — Tina Nichols Coury with an editor interview with Melanie Kroupa
  • Wednesday, Jan. 29: Double Olympic Poetry Challenge — an international event!
    • No Water River — Renée LaTulippe – in Italy: using “Soccer Ball” as a prompt, write an apostrophe poem for a piece of Olympic sporting equipment + giveaway
    • Teaching Authors — April Halprin Wayland – in USA: using “Bike” as a prompt, write a mask poem for the same sports item–skis, skates, etc.
  • Thursday, Jan. 30: The Miss Rumphius Effect — Dr. Tricia Stohr-Hunt
  • Friday, Jan. 31: Jama’s Alphabet Soup — Jama Kim Rattigan with a book review, potato recipe, “food couplet” challenge, and giveaway


Thank you, Joan!

We’ll see Joan back here with a video in April!


Joan Bransfield Graham…

grew up on a barrier island along the southern coast of New Jersey next to the Atlantic Ocean and now lives not far from the Pacific in California. She’s lived in the north, south, east, and west–Wisconsin, Kentucky, Virginia, and California–as her husband was an FBI Agent for 22 years. A friend named them “Rhymes & Crimes.” A former teacher, Joan’s award-winning books SPLISH SPLASH and FLICKER FLASH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)–shape poems about water and light–inspire children to write their own poems. She loves visiting schools, encouraging students to think creatively.


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See more poems in my poetry video library.

“Soccer Ball” © Joan Bransfield Graham. Illustrations © Kyrsten Brooker. All rights reserved.


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  1. That is a neat idea a boy who loves poetry and sports. Since I can’t wait to watch snowboarding I’ll try a snowboard.

    What can you see over my shoulder?
    What can you see when I’m upside down?
    Can you see far off valleys?
    Or just me wrong side up?
    What can you see?
    What can you see?

  2. Skiing downhill
    I trip and spill
    I should’ve stayed in a nook
    Reading a fantastic book
    Will you send one my way
    I’d love to win it today.

    I am not a poet, but I would love to bring these poems to my readers. Have pity on my verse, I know it is quite terse.

  3. Ice Skates

    I have laces and bows
    eyelets and teeth,
    a boot on the top
    and a blade underneath.
    I glide and I slide
    with balance and flair,
    right next to my twin,
    ’cause we are a pair.

    Thanks for this challenge…fun!

    1. Thanks, Dana! You’ll be happy to know that I’ve included a French villanelle, “Fever” . . . on a shower curtain; it was a challenge for the designer, but he DID IT!

  4. Curling Haiku

    Rock with a handle
    floats smoothly across brushed ice
    knock other rocks out

    The book looks really cute. Drawing boys into poetry is always a good idea. Thanks for a chance to write a poem about curling, my favorite winter Olympic sport, and for a chance to win the book.

  5. My apostrophe poem:

    Oh frozen slab of tempered steel
    securely bolted to my boot
    you score a path across the ice
    both elegant and resolute

    Now launch me high into the air
    to pirouette with limbs entwined
    Just keep your bearings while I spin–
    lest I land on my behind!

  6. Apostrophe Ode to a Luge

    Oh Luge
    your speed
    the need
    for care.
    the stares.
    You zoom
    and soon,
    a BOOM!
    Mach 2
    for you,
    oh Luge.

    Feeble but I’m in a bit of a hurry. 😉 Thanks for the fun, Renee and Joan!

  7. The book looks wonderful, hope it’s already at my bookstore! I’m gathering poetry books for one class to give them lots of options for their writing, & this will be quite a good addition! Thanks Renee, and congratulations to Joan for the publication!

    To the Bobsleds

    I wonder if your slippy slopes
    will help as sledders race and hope.

    For Olympic gold they will compete
    to win on each heat after heat
    on your winding, upside-downing
    Linda Baie © All Rights Reserved

  8. Who says boys don’t like to read?
    It’s clear that all they really need
    are topics that they like: their pet,
    or sports, or dirt, but not girls – yet!

    (kinda clunky, but it’s the best I could do in 10 minutes with a baby crying!)

  9. Wow, Renee–thanks so much for the Gold Medal job you did with this, fantastic! Let’s invite Catherine, Sue, Angie, Dana, Rosi, Victoria, Teresa, Linda, Deborah, and Matt up to the podium for their flower bouquets and medals–cheers and thanks to all! Don’t know if Renee is still up; it’s almost 1 a.m. in Italy . . . .

  10. This book is definitely on my wishlist–sounds terrific! Congratulations on its publication Joan, and thanks for the terrific post Renee. And thanks to you both for the fun prompt!

    Farewell to my X-Country Skis

    I strap you on my frozen feet,
    We zip along
    a slide-glide beat.

    The hill grows steep, an icy ride,
    I slip–you slide
    I trip–you glide.

    You race away, alone. I’m stranded.
    I’m left behind
    (it’s where I landed.
    —Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved.

  11. Hmm… Waiting for inspiration… Ah ha!

    Accidental Olympian

    I don’t know how I got here,
    It is a frightening thing.
    I do this year after year,
    and I always find myself in the ring.

    They don’t understand,
    that I can’t ski,
    but that I can stand on my hand,
    while doing karate.


    1. Accidental Olympian.. ha! Erik, I love this! I am not a sporty gal, but have often found myself accidentally involved in sporty things as a mom to 3 sons. 🙂

  12. Snow

    Oh hello, Snow.
    You’re the star of our show.
    Without you, Snow,
    we couldn’t go.
    Couldn’t snowboard.
    Couldn’t ski.
    Here we go.
    Because of you, Snow,
    we’ll star in our show.
    Oh thank you, Snow.

    ~Penny Parker Klostermann

    And I have to have this book!!!! Love it!

  13. Very appealing cover and the book sounds great!
    I love winter sports, but it’s been a long and busy week and weekend and my mind is drawing a blank. Maybe I’ll come back…. Great job on the poems, everyone!

    Zipping down an icy slide, curving, swerving,
    This frozen ride pushes your stomachs
    Up to your throats, screaming out jagged
    Notes. Screeching to a stop, Ben and Glenn
    Both race up to begin again.

    (c) Charles Waters 2014 all rights reserved.

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