Ruth is hosting Poetry Friday this week at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town. Click through to find all of this week’s Poetry Friday links!

Happy Poetry Friday! Congratulations to Linda Baie. I pulled Linda’s name at random from last week’s comments. Linda, I’ll be sending you a signed copy of Welcome to Monsterville!

This week, I am celebrating the publication of Welcome to Monsterville with a wonderful read-alike book of poems.

Reading “Archie Pellago” from Welcome to Monsterville to children at the Kensington Day of the Book Festival, April 23.

But first, a big thank you.

Every year, I run a program for Nerdy Book Club called “It’s National Poetry Month – Let’s Teach Poetry!” This Tuesday evening, a group of Poetry Friday friends joined me for a live chat about how educators can use Poetry Friday as a classroom resource. What an incredible conversation we had!

The video recording is available here at the Nerdy Book Club Facebook page. Stop by to watch, write a comment, and post a link to your Poetry Friday blog.

I’m grateful to Matt Forrest Esenwine, Mary Lee Hahn, Irene Latham, Heidi Mordhorst, Margaret Simon, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Sylvia Vardell, and Janet Wong for their time, expertise, and focus on encouraging teachers to make poetry part of their students’ lives.

Now, onto the read alike.

I love the intersection between poetry and the imagination. Yes—our everyday imaginations (I wonder who is living in that hole underneath the azalea bush) but also our fantastical imaginations.

This is what Michael Rothenberg and I explored with our book, Welcome to Monsterville. Michael’s illustrations for the book were exercises in letting his imagination loose. My poems are something like an interpretation or translation of his art.

One of my favorite poetry collections about the fantastic is Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures, by Julie Larios with paintings by Julie Paschkis.

Published in 2008, this richly illustrated book has fourteen poems. Each one is about—or in the voice of—a mythical creature. The creatures span a variety of cultures. In these pages, you’ll meet a firebird and a thunderbird, hobgoblins from Glasgow and a naga from the Mekong river.

Some of these creatures are deliciously scary yet—through Larios’ poetic portraits—many of them are also deserving of the readers empathy.

Try reading Julie’s poems “Cockatrice” (on page 14) alongside “Freedom” from Welcome to Monsterville. “Cockatrice” begins, “I’m a snake-tailed rooster, / I’m a rooster-headed snake.”

And here is Michael Rothenberg’s rooster-like monster.

from Welcome to Monsterville
Poems by Laura Shovan, Illustrated by Michael Rothenberg

A strange new breed of rooster
lives in our chicken coop.
The birds wear collared shirts
and gel their feathers in a swoop.
The ties around their necks
are hissing snakes. It’s disconcerting.
They run around and peck the ground
and scare the hens by blurting…

Dockaboodlecoo! Bockadoodlekee!
We’re not roosters. Set us free!

A weird new breed of rooster
lives in our chicken coop.
They find a shady spot and gather
huddled in a group.
Their almost-human eyes
are watching me. I’m petrified.
They point their wings and whisper things.
That’s when I run inside.

Dockaboodlecoo! Bockadoodlekee!
We are monsters. Set us free!

We have an empty yard now.
There’s no more chicken coop,
no sign of feathered monsters
when I sit on the back stoop.
They picked the lock, opened the gate,
and fled one moonless night.
But not without a final shout,
which gave me quite a fright.

Dockaboodlecoo! Bockadoodlekee!
Let’s go, Monsters. We are free!

Welcome to Monsterville
Now on sale at your favorite online retailer! Signed bookplates are available for your copy of Welcome to Monsterville, just leave a comment.

8 responses to “Read-Alikes! Welcome to Monsterville & Imaginary Menagerie”

  1. Lou Piccolo says:

    That’s a fun, and scary, poem all rolled into one. I love that the strange roosters still crow, but weirdly so.

  2. Denise Krebs says:

    Laura, what fun. I love how you make poetry pairs. Wonderful. Your coined words are so magical. Today it’s:
    “Dockaboodlecoo! Bockadoodlekee!
    We’re not roosters. Set us free!”

  3. Linda Baie says:

    I wrote you about the ‘win’, Laura! Thanks for that, am looking forward to reading more zany words as Denise shared, too. Dockaboodlecoo! Bockadoodlekee! to you! Happy Pub Day!

  4. Ties as snakes–love that! And the grand exit of those chickens. Thank you, Laura, and also for the NBC link. Saved it to watch :>)

  5. What an incredible panel of poet wisdom, Laura! I continue to be amazed by the generosity and passion and commitment of the kidlit poetry community and what I think of as its “wisdom elders” who give so much to children, teachers, librarians, and all of us aspiring poets. You are wonderful role models!

  6. Linda Mitchell says:

    I’m still in love with the possibilities of using this book with students…and grown-ups. I think starting a PD by sketching monsters we battle would be fun. Oh, so many possibilities. Thank you, Laura. And, you are so good and read alikes. Love the Julie Larios book too!

  7. We are monsters, set us free!!
    A clarion call indeed!

  8. Julie Larios says:

    Love your poem, Laura! I’m proud to have it paired up with “Cockatrice” today. Thanks!

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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