Author and Poet Janet Wong Visits Pocantico for National Poetry Month

Author Janet Wong read to kindergarteners and first-graders at Pocantico Hills before addressing the full audience.

Pocantico Hills School students in pre-K through fifth grade received a special treat before spring break – a visit from children’s author and poet Janet Wong.

Wong has written 33 books and poetry collections, including A Suitcase of Seaweed and More and Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book.

Wong talked about her journey to become an author. Twenty-seven years ago, she was a lawyer at Universal Studios in Hollywood and decided to take some time off to write. She loved it so much that she never returned to the law. “I couldn’t think of anything more important than working with kids,” she said.

The author brought in her grandfather’s suitcase filled with objects that relate to her books. She let the children select items – from a measuring tape and a bag of noodles to a stuffed turtle – to guide her in choosing what to read.

After a pre-kindergartener chose the noodles, Wong picked eight students to help perform her poem “Noodles.” Everyone had a line, such as “noodles for breakfast” and “noodles that crunch,” and the children in the audience repeated each one.

When a first-grader pulled an astronaut figure from the suitcase, the author invited teachers to act out “Moon Walk” by Susan Blackaby, a poem from an anthology she created with Sylvia Vardell. Children giggled as the teachers leaped and bounced across the stage.

The author challenged students to write poems during a break. Ten emerging poets received a free book from Wong.

The visit was organized and made possible by the PTA and Anne Price-Gordon, the school’s library media specialist.

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About the Author: Evelyn Mertens