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!



Pink Grapefruit

I love twitter!  Follow me! @judynmclaughlin

I have made so many great connections via tweeting.  Including @Sunkist — they are the folks at Sunkist Growers. One of @Sunkist’s tweets today?  How do you eat your grapefruit – au naturel or sprinkled with sugar? I tweeted back.  I’m au natural. My kids like to sprinkle sugar on top. Fav fruit in our house.

This exchange made me think of my Pink Grapefruit poem and watercolor picture from the “yet to be published” MORE Poems on Fruits & Odes to Veggies.  Check it out!  And @Sunkist, hope you take a peek too!

ENJOY!  And remember, healthy eating starts with a poem!

Pink Grapefruit

Pink shirt

Pink socks

Pink bow

Atop my locks

Pink pants

Pink boots

Best of all

Pink fruits

The only one of which I know?

The pink grapefruit pictured below.



asparagusI was just checking up on twitter when I found a great recipe for an Asparagus Frittata! Thanks @DonnaFaz. It looks simple to make and delicious to eat. Can’t wait to make it. Check it out at Donna’s Blog: In All Directions.

And of all things, the word, frittata, a delightful word to say, makes an appearance in my Asparagus Poem, from Poems on Fruits & Odes to Veggies.

If you were ever wondering if there REALLY was such a thing as an Asparagus Frittata, now you know! Enjoy the poem, try the frittata, and remember, healthy eating starts with a poem!

Asparagus by, Judith Natelli McLaughlin

Asparagus spears

Make asparagus pie,

Or asparagus quiche,

Or asparagus soup, or

Risotto. I don’t know

A thing you can’t do

With asparagus spears

Even put them in stew

     Pan roasted asparagus perfect to please

     Frittata?  De nada ­­– just add eggs and cheese.

Asparagus spears

Make asparagus salad,

Asparagus flan,

Or asparagus fry.

Packaged like pencils

In red, green or white

Put asparagus spears

On your menu tonight.

Pineapple Poem

Dole PineappleI have been tweeting with my friends @DoleFoods. I shared with them videos of me reciting my Banana and Watermelon poems. Both are from Poems on Fruits & Odes to Veggies – Where Healthy Eating Starts With a Poem. To my delight, @DoleFoods tweeted back asking, “any odes for pineapples? :)”

Indeed I do have a Pineapple poem. It is from MORE Poems on Fruits & Odes to Veggies – which has yet to be published. This picture is of a Dole pineapple found on the Dole Foods website. Without further ado, my Pineapple poem:

Pineapple by Judith Natelli McLaughlin

Its skin’s the scratchy, prickly kind

And palm-like leaves on top you’ll find

But right inside this hidden treasure

Lives a taste too great to measure

Past the moon and furthest star

A treat…the sweetest one by far

This yellow, juicy fruit’s no fake

It’s used in upside-down baked cake

And yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese

Or by itself, it’s sure to please

Now can you name this tropic fruit?

The one that wears the prickly suit?

Did I hear you?  Did you say?

Pineapple?  Hooray!  Hooray!

First Harvest

harvest 1I haven’t posted any garden updates in quite a while. So long, in fact, that today I picked my first harvest! Two grape tomatoes, one beafsteak tomato and a huge bunch of basil. I popped the two grape tomatoes in my mouth immediately. Couldn’t resist and they were delicious! (In fact, I popped the first one before I snapped this pic, that’s how impatient I was). Finally, I remembered to photograph the harvest.

Tonight’s dinner? Filet Mignon, Tortellini with Homemade Pesto and a Tomato, Cucumber, Basil Salad.

Homemade Pesto

For my pesto I put the entire bunch of basil in a blender with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 5 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup almonds. Then I blended until smooth. I needed to add a bit more olive oil to get to the consistency I like. The beauty of pesto is you can do it as you please…more garlic, less garlic, pine nuts, or walnuts or no nuts. Whatever you choose. This exact recipe was just delicious. Tweak it as you wish and let me know how you do it!

And remember, like I say in P0ems on Fruits & Odes to Veggies, healthy eating starts with a poem!

How Does My Garden Grow? Week 4

I don’t know if you can tell from the pictures, but besides the growth that has taken place in my garden, something else is different too. Can you spot the change? Look first. And remember, I am new to growing my own garden.


Okay, here is the answer…it is the tomato cages! I put them in upside down! I thought the big round end should be buried in the ground. And the look should be like an upside down ice cream cone. Turns out that is not the case. The spikes should be in the ground and it should look just like an ice cream cone, getting wider at the top! Can you say “duh?” Someone in the “know” (my sister-in-law) visited my garden and made the change for me.  Now my tomatoes will have room to grow.

Since we are on the subject of tomatoes, here is a tomato poem for you from my book Poems on Fruits & Odes to Veggies.


Grape tomatoes

Vine tomatoes

Steak tomatoes too


Red tomatoes

Green tomatoes

I know what to do


Dice them, slice them

Mince them, seed them

Put them on a plate


Eat them, feed them

To yourself…

They taste really great!


eggplantLet’s talk about eggplant for the rest of the week. We will discuss recipes, poems and art…let’s begin!

We are starting with a poem and illustration from my book Poems on Fruits & Odes to Veggies – Where Healthy Eating Starts With a Poem.

I love this silly poem…and when I first recited it to my children, some five years ago, they were worried that the last line in the poem would fool children into thinking eggplant really comes from eggs. So far, all the kids I read to get the joke.  Phew!


Crack an egg

Mix it up

Shells and yolk and all

Dig a hole

In the ground

Just as wide as tall

Pour the egg

In the hole

Using love and care

Cover it

Up with dirt

Water, sit and stare

See a leaf

Sprout right up

Don’t say that you can’t

Now you ask

What it is?

Naturally, eggplant

If you don’t believe me

Then go ask your mother

If you do believe me

I’ll tell you another