As Seen on the West Orange, NJ Public Schools Website

NJ Illustrator/Author Judith McLaughlin Returns to Pleasantdale SchoolPleasantdale School Visit

Back by popular request of students and faculty, NJ illustrator/author Judith McLaughlin spent April 24th at Pleasantdale School helping students to celebrate the school’s third annual “Poem in Your Pocket Day.”  Each student sported a poem in his or her pocket while attending one of McLaughlin’s three assemblies. Students surprised McLaughlin by reciting her “Peppers” tongue twister poem that they had been practicing for the occasion. McLaughlin, in turn, delighted the students by reciting a new tongue twister from her upcoming sequel to “Poems on Fruits and Odes to Veggies.” Asked how she felt about returning to Pleasantdale School for another “Poem in Your Pocket Day,” McLaughlin replied that although her April “Poetry Month” calendar always is booked with school visits, she loves coming to Pleasantdale School for ‘Poem in Your Pocket Day’ because across the grades, the students are so enthusiastic about helping brainstorm, compose, and share a group poem.

After presenting her poems, it was McLaughlin’s turn to be the audience for student-poets. McLaughlin was especially moved by the reasons given by more than fifty students, grades kindergarten through grade five, for wanting to sacrifice their recess to share a poem with her. “It is a humbling privilege to have youngsters say that my visit last year inspired them, and that they have written their first poems for me.” One of the teachers gave McLaughlin high marks for instilling some usually shy students with the confidence to risk reciting poems in public as long as McLaughlin was in the audience. “It doesn’t get any better than helping students stretch their potential.” “I’ve never done anything like this before,” one fifth grader confided before reciting her poem. “I love this poem and I think she will enjoy this poem, too.”

Giving each student-poet her full attention and insightful feedback, McLaughlin, who has heard many students’ poems during author visits throughout the years around the state, commented that there were many firsts among the poems the Pleasantdale students shared. Notable among them was an entertaining “two-voice” poem performed by a fourth grader and her proud mother, a moving poem recited in Bengali by a talented fifth grader, a joyful poem played on piano by an outgoing first grader, and an original thoughtful poem, composed and recited by two sensitive second graders.  “Make no mistake,” one teacher commented following the recess poem sessions, “Ms. McLaughlin’s impact on our students’ relationship with poetry has been huge since her visit last year. Once again, Ms. McLaughlin filled our poetry buckets, and the children, in turn, have reciprocated—they have filled hers.”

Noting that April 24th was National Poem in Your Pocket Day, Principal Dr. Joanne Pollara observed, “In addition to the wonderful literacy experience our Pleasantdale School students enjoyed in our building, their experience was magnified knowing that they were partaking in something larger than themselves. They were experiencing something in common with students throughout the country. There is something very powerful in that connection. We are very grateful to everyone—parents, students, and faculty and staff who supported our Fall bookfair. It is the proceeds from that event that enables us to support literacy enrichment programs such as the Poem in Your Pocket Day author visit. Thank you! And thank you to all the teachers who worked so hard with their students composing original poems—acrostic, shape, haiku, diamante, to name just a few—that beautifully adorn the halls of our school. Thank you!

 

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April Fool’s Day and the ARTICHOKE

 

Artichoke PictureIt’s April Fool’s Day!  If you don’t eat artichokes, then as the poem says, the Arti Joke’s on you!

My favorite way to eat them is my Nonny’s stuffed artichoke recipe.

Stuffed & Steamed Artichokes

1. Prepare the artichoke…cut the stem off the bottom of the artichoke to make a flat surface. Trim off the top of the artichoke too.2. Prepare stuffing…. mix 2 tablespoons chopped garlic, 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (add more or less of any of these ingredients to your taste. Trust me, you can’t go wrong.)

3. Stuff the inner leaves of four artichokes with the bread crumb mixture.

4. Place artis in pot with 1/2 inch of boiling water. Cover, lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Check doneness by pulling a leaf out of the center. If it pulls out easily, artis are done. If not, simmer longer until done.

5. To eat, pull off one leaf at a time. With stuffing side in, run your teeth along leaf and eat. Discard leaves.
ENJOY!!

Do you have a favorite artichoke recipe? Share it now.

ENJOY!

Artichokes

by Judith Natelli McLaughlin

Artie chokes on chocolate chowder

Artichokes on rice

Artie chokes on pumpkin pie

Laced with pepper spice

Artichokes on fettuccine

Barley, beans and peas

Lasagna, parmesan

And on pecorino cheese

Artie chokes on chile

Made with ice cream and beef chuck

Artichokes on Caesar salad,

Sushi, roasted duck

Artie chokes or artichokes

Confusing, it is true

But if you do not try this food?

The arti JOKES on you!