tangles 1


As National Poetry Month winds to a close, I wanted to share an excerpt from TANGLES, my first poetry collection:



Of all the poems in the collection, I think “Blushing Crimson” might be my favorite:

“Blushing Crimson”







summer heat


bare feet

heart harpooned

so complete

beers we drank

whispers sweet

breeze in June

faces meet

giggles clank

kisses heat

clothing strewn

emotions piqued

bodies sank

love discreet

under a blushing crimson moon


It’s National Poetry Month! As adults, we might recognize that by checking out a few readings, maybe buying a new anthology or a few collections by new-to-us poets. Kids should absolutely get in on the fun, too.


My picture book NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is a villanelle–not exactly the poetic form that many kids study in elementary school. Actually, most people don’t study vilanelles at all until they read Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night.”

I love the form, though–basically, it’s based around two lines that repeat throughout. To me, these lines are like the “hook” or chorus of a pop song. So of course the main character of my villanelle is a rock star!

To me, poetry is alive and vibrant and emotional. It’s a whole world crammed into just a handful of lines on a page. In NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID, I celebrate those who forge their own paths, those who don’t take “no” for an answer, who refuse to be discouraged by critics…and those who also like a little punk with their poetry.

You can snag a copy of NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID here, and check out a sneak peek below:




I took a few chances on my latest picture book, NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID. The book is blend of things that, at first blush, shouldn’t go together:

  1. Poetry and rock ‘n roll: The book itself is a story in verse, and the main character is a singer in her own rock band.
  1. Katydids and singing: Of all the creatures on this earth, katydids are not exactly what you’d consider great singers. To me, their voices sound like creaky screen doors opening over and over! And yet, the main character of NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is, in fact, a katydid.
  1. Kids and formal poetry: Poetry, some think, is stuffy. Or hard. And formal poetry? For young readers? And yet, the book is itself a villanelle, a form most readers don’t encounter until later school years, when they read Thomas’s “Do not go gently into that good night,” arguably the most famous villanelle written.
  1. Photos and illustration: Each page of the book contains watercolor illustrations merged with photographic elements.

The thing is, though, mixing up pieces that seem like they belong to two different worlds is, I think, where absolute magic happens. We see things in a new way. We realize some of the best rock songs are really like three-minute poems (and the repeating lines of the villanelle is like the repeating chorus of a rock song). We realize that for kids who are MG readers, straddling the line between grown-up ideas and younger interests, photos and illustrations can make the perfect combination. We realize that the best singing voices are like Katy’s—not technically perfect, but full of soul. And, most importantly, we realize that finding new ways to make poetry (even formal poetry!) accessible to young readers means that they won’t be intimidated by it as adults. We help foster a lifelong love and appreciation of poetry.

Take a chance—find a new “odd-couple” pairing to put in your own WIP! And check out more about NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID at my #SCBWIBookStop page.


I am a lifelong music nut. SERIOUS nut. Most of the time, I think I’d rather have music than food.


In fact, this picture offers a bit of proof—that’s me, in about 1992, with a member of Tesla (who’s in the midst of signing his autograph). Because in addition to seeing as many concerts as I possibly could, I also used to do my fair share of autograph hunting—anything to get just a little bit closer to my favorite musicians. As many of you already know, I even taught piano and guitar lessons as I was drafting my earliest manuscripts—and my students actually inspired me to write for younger readers.

As an old literature major, I’m also a poetry nut. I’ve hung out at as many poetry readings as I have concert doors—but for some reason, it never crossed my mind to get a shot taken with, say, Miller Williams (Clinton’s second inaugural poet) when I heard him read his work.

My latest release, a picture book for more advanced readers entitled NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID, combines my lifelong loves of music and poetry:



Saturday night just isn’t Saturday night without Katy Did and The Antennas. At least, until a rotten review leaves Katy’s bandmates thinking maybe they could do better with another singer.

What’s a Katy Did to do when she’s been dumped for a Songbird?
Featuring a main character who is both literally a katydid insect and the singer in her own band, NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID offers a story of perseverance and finding beauty in unexpected places as well as a fun, attention-grabbing way to introduce young readers to formal poetry. The book itself is a villanelle, a type of poetry that features refrains that repeat throughout—much like the chorus in a rock song. Great for classroom use and for readers in the fourth to sixth grade. Sheets in the back of the book walk budding poets through writing their own first villanelle.

Why a villanelle?

It’s not as frequently studied as some other poetic forms, especially in the elementary levels. I find it’s a form not usually discussed much until high school, actually, when students read Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night,” arguably the most famous or most recognizable villanelle ever written.

Don’t worry—it’s not too sophisticated.

Kids in this age group (about 9-12) are straddling the line between childhood and slightly more grown-up interests. That’s why this book (which is, from front to back, a single villanelle) is also a picture book, featuring both photographic and illustrative elements—and a katydid lead singer with bright red hair, no less!

The Importance of Poetry

I was so delighted to see Tracy K. Smith (our current poet laureate) on CBS This Morning, discussing the accessibility of poetry. I also believe that poetry is what our youngest readers naturally gravitate toward. And yet, somewhere along the way, readers become intimidated by it. It’s my hope that NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID helps to continue to make formal poetry both accessible and fun for your young readers.

Snag a Copy

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback. For those who incorporate the book into their own classroom or library activities, I can always be reached at hollyschindlerbooks@gmail.com for Skype visits.

Sneak Peek:



katycover4As a lifelong music nut, this forthcoming book has truly been a passion project. NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is actually a “rock poem.” Not unlike the verse novels that have swelled in popularity over the past few years, NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID employs poetry rather than prose, telling a story of preservation and recognizing beauty in somewhat unexpected places using the form of the villanelle—a type of formal poetry.

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID is perfect for classroom use. The message is uplifting, the music theme attention-grabbing. (The book is also populated by an anthropomorphic rock band. At the 4th-6th grade level, I find kids are really straddling the line between not quite wanting to let go of their youthful interests—cartoons, comics, etc.—even as they’re adding a few older interests, like music, into the mix.) NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID also introduces young readers to a type of formal poetry not frequently addressed in elementary classrooms. The end of the book provides example worksheets for students to craft their own villanelle.

NOBODY SANG LIKE KATY DID will be releasing soon—be sure to sign up for my picture book and / or MG newsletters to get the official date. (I’ll be making the announcement through both, as this book is both short and illustrated.)

Picture Book Newsletter

MG Newsletter