Category: News

That Doesn’t Sound Right to Me

When you read poems, you will sometimes come across things that don’t sound right to you. Often, this is because people pronounce some words differently depending on where they grew up. The writer of the poem may have grown up somewhere that they pronounce things a little differently than you do.

Probably the most well-known example is the word “tomato.” In Britain, this word is pronounced “toe-MAH-toe,” whereas in America it is pronounced “toe-MAY-toe.”

Similarly, “pajamas” is pronounced “puh-JAW-muhz” (rhymes with “llamas”) in Britain, but can be pronounced either “puh-JAM-uhz” (rhymes with “panoramas”) or “puh-JAW-muhz” in America. And, in America, “dance” rhymes with “France,” while in Britain “dance” is often pronounced “dahns.”

I once wrote a poem for a publisher in India where I rhymed “face” with “vase.” (In America, these two words rhyme with one another.) My publisher was very confused because in India, as well as Britain and much of the world, “vase” is pronounced “vahz” (rhymes with “jaws”).

When I read poems by British authors, sometimes I am surprised by their rhyme choices. For example, I recently saw “speedier” rhymed with “media” because Brits often do not pronounce the r’s at the ends of words.

Dealing with different pronunciations

In general, it’s a good idea to think about who your readers might be. When you run into a word that your readers may pronounce differently than you, you may want to choose a different rhyme. For example, instead of saying:

I like to sing and dance.

You might say:

I like to dance and sing.

A syllable and a half

Another problem you might encounter has to do with the number of syllables in a word.

Many types of poems require counting syllables, or counting “feet,” which are groups of syllables. For example, haiku usually have five syllables on the first and last lines, and seven syllables on the second line. Sonnets normally have five feet of two syllables each, ten syllables total, on each line.

When I write poems, I not only think about the rhymes, but also the rhythm, or “meter” of the words. I usually count feet rather than syllables, but it still requires knowing how many syllables are in any given word.

For most words, the number of syllables is pretty easy to count. “Cat” is clearly a one-syllable word. “Mother” is easy to identify as two syllables. But not every word in English is pronounced the same way by everyone.

Depending on where you live, you may pronounce things a little differently than people in other places. Sometimes this can change the number of syllables you hear when you pronounce certain words.

For example, take the word “poem.” Depending on where you live, this might be pronounced “POE-uhm,” “poe-EHM,” or even “pome.” If you pronounce it “pome,” you might rhyme it with “home,” but this might sound wrong to people in other parts of the country or world. Regardless of how you pronounce it, because other people might pronounce it with a different number of syllables, which would make the rhythm different to them than it is to you.

When a word can be correctly pronounced with one syllable or two, I call these “one-and-a-half-syllable words.” Other examples include words such as “orange” (which some pronounce “OR-uhnj” while others say “ornj”) and “fire” (which many would argue is a one-syllable word, while others say it rhymes with “higher,” which is definitely two syllables.

Similarly, there are many “two-and-a-half-syllable words,” such as “family” (which can be correctly pronounced with either two syllables — “FAM-lee” –or three — “FAM-uh-lee”) and “chocolate” (“CHOK-lit” or “CHOK-uh-lit”).

Dealing with different syllable counts

When you discover that other people may pronounce a certain word differently than you, you can fix the problem in one of two ways.

Substitute a different word

One easy way to solve this issue is to avoid the word by substituting a different one, such as “mother” or “father” in place of “family.”

Change the placement of the word

Another way to fix the problem is by placing the word where it can be pronounced either way without affecting the rhythm.

For example, instead of saying:

My family is very nice.

You might say:

I really like my family.

This way, regardless of whether your readers pronounce “family” as two syllables or three, it doesn’t affect the rhythm of the line.

Whenever you encounter words that others might pronounce differently than you, it’s good to keep these words in mind when you are writing poems that require rhythm or syllable counting so that your poems can be read more easily by everyone, no matter where they are.

A New Look for Poetry4kids

After many, many years with the same look, a look that was beginning to get a little long in the tooth, I have completely redesigned the look of Poetry4kids.com. It was a big project that took most of the summer, and it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years.

In addition to a more modern look and easier-to-navigate menus, the new Poetry4kids is also mobile-friendly, adapting to any display size, from desktop to tablet to mobile phone. And, to make sure your visit to Poetry4kids is always secure, I have added an SSL certificate to the website, and updated our Privacy Policy and cookies notifications to be in compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

Of course, as with all big projects, there’s still some cleanup to do. Over the coming weeks I will be going through the site’s many hundreds of pages to ensure that everything is working just as it should.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your feedback. Like what you see? Can’t find something you’re looking for? Come across something that isn’t working? Please drop me a line and let me know.

Video – My Brother Ate My Smartphone

Here’s another video of a funny poem from my book My Cat Knows Karate. This one is called “My Brother Ate My Smartphone” and it’s about a boy who swallows a smartphone and suddenly becomes the smartest kid on the planet.

In a way, this poem is like a movie I saw when I was young. It was called, “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” and it was about a college student who became a genius after an accident involving his school’s computer. Of course, this could never really happen, so please don’t eat your brother’s phone. Instead, just enjoy the poem and maybe a few more while you’re at it!

Video – My Cat Knows Karate

Here’s a video of me reciting the title poem from my book, My Cat Knows Karate. This new book has a number of poems about pets, animals, and sports, and this poem brings all three ideas together into a single poem.

I have always liked the idea of animals doing sports. So much so that I wrote an entire book of poems about it, The Tighty-Whitey Spider. And, if you like this poem, you might also enjoy my poem, “My Puppy Punched Me in the Eye” from my book My Hippo Has the Hiccups.

New Book: My Cat Knows Karate

I’m very excited to announce the publication of my newest book, My Cat Knows Karate. This collection includes seventy new poems about goofy gadgets, kooky characters, funny families, absurd situations. Beautifully illustrated by Rafael Domingos, My Cat Knows Karate is chock-full of the ridiculous rhymes, wacky wordplay, preposterous punchlines, and guaranteed giggles that kids love to read.

My Cat Knows Karate is available now from Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle formats. The book should be available from other booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and your local independent bookseller in about a week.

Words and Phrases that Rhyme with Themselves

Sometimes when you’re writing a rhyming poem, you may want to include a word or phrase that rhymes with itself, such as itsy-bitsy or super-duper. These are known “reduplicated” words or phrases. “Reduplication” is the term for words or phrases that are created by repeating sounds. Here is a list of rhyming reduplicated words and phrases that may come in handy to you sometime.

  • abracadabra
  • argle-bargle
  • argy-bargy
  • artsy-fartsy
  • backpack
  • backtrack
  • bandstand
  • bed head
  • bees knees
  • big rig
  • bigwig
  • blackjack
  • blame game
  • blues clues
  • booboo
  • boo-hoo
  • boogie-woogie
  • boot scoot
  • bowwow
  • boy toy
  • brain drain
  • chick-flick
  • chilly willy
  • chip dip
  • chock-a-block
  • chop shop
  • chug-a-lug
  • chunky monkey
  • claptrap
  • clean green
  • crop top
  • cuddly-wuddly
  • cutie patootie
  • deadhead
  • ding-a-ling
  • ditch witch
  • double bubble
  • double trouble
  • downtown
  • easy cheese
  • easy-peasey
  • eency-weency
  • even-steven
  • fancy nancy
  • fancy-schmancy
  • fat cat
  • fender-bender
  • fight or flight
  • fit bit
  • flyby
  • froufrou
  • fuddy-duddy
  • fun run
  • fuzzy-wuzzy
  • gogo
  • go pro
  • great state
  • ground round
  • haha
  • handstand
  • handy-dandy
  • hanky-panky
  • harum-scarum
  • heart smart
  • heebie-jeebies
  • helter skelter
  • heyday
  • hi-fi
  • higgledy-piggledy
  • high fly
  • hippy-dippy
  • hobnob
  • hobo
  • hocus-pocus
  • hoddy-noddy
  • hodgepodge
  • hoi polloi
  • hoity-toity
  • hokey-pokey
  • holy cannoli
  • holy moly
  • hong kong
  • hoodoo
  • hooley-dooley
  • hot pot
  • hotshot
  • hotspot
  • hotsy-totsy
  • hubbub
  • huffing and puffing
  • hugger-mugger
  • hulu
  • humdrum
  • humpty dumpty
  • hurdy-gurdy
  • hurly-burly
  • hurry-scurry
  • itsy-bitsy
  • itty-bitty
  • jeepers creepers
  • jelly belly
  • jet set
  • kowtow
  • laffy taffy
  • lardy-dardy
  • lite brite
  • loosey-goosey
  • lovey-dovey
  • low and slow
  • mama
  • mai tai
  • maintain
  • make or break
  • mars bars
  • mayday
  • melee
  • mellow yellow
  • mojo
  • mukluk
  • mumbo-jumbo
  • namby-pamby
  • name game
  • naysay
  • night-light
  • nitty-gritty
  • nitwit
  • no-go
  • nutter butter
  • oingo boingo
  • okey dokey
  • one-ton
  • out and about
  • pall mall
  • papa
  • payday
  • pedal to the metal
  • pell-mell
  • phony-baloney
  • pickwick
  • picnic
  • pie in the sky
  • piggly wiggly
  • plain jane
  • pooper scooper
  • pop-top
  • powwow
  • prime-time
  • quick pick
  • ragtag
  • rat-a-tat
  • razzle-dazzle
  • razzmatazz
  • reese’s pieces
  • ring ding
  • rinky-dink
  • roly-poly
  • rom-com
  • rootin’ tootin’
  • rough and tough
  • rough stuff
  • scat cat
  • shake and bake
  • shock jock
  • shoe goo
  • silly-willy
  • single mingle
  • sky high
  • slim jim
  • sloppy copy
  • slow-mo
  • snack pack
  • snail mail
  • soho
  • solo
  • space race
  • spruce goose
  • steak ‘n shake
  • stop and shop
  • study buddy
  • stun gun
  • sump pump
  • super-duper
  • tee-hee
  • teenie-weenie
  • teensy-weensy
  • tepee
  • tex-mex
  • thin skin
  • tighty-whitey
  • tinky winky
  • tramp stamp
  • true blue
  • turkey jerky
  • tutti frutti
  • tutu
  • undone
  • voodoo
  • wall ball
  • walkie-talkie
  • waylay
  • white knight
  • wi-fi
  • willy-nilly
  • wing-ding
  • without a doubt
  • wonton
  • yolo

Non-Rhyming Reduplicated Words and Phrases

Some reduplicated words and phrases don’t quite rhyme because they contain different vowel sounds, such as ping-pong or zigzag. Here is a list of reduplicated words and phrases that don’t rhyme.

  • bric-a-brac
  • chit-chat
  • clip-clop
  • criss-cross
  • dig dug
  • dilly-dally
  • ding-dong
  • fiddle faddle
  • flimflam
  • flip-flop
  • hee-haw
  • hip hop
  • jingle-jangle
  • king kong
  • kit kat
  • knickknack / nicknack
  • mishmash
  • ping-pong
  • pitter-patter
  • riffraff
  • seesaw
  • shipshape
  • singsong
  • skimble-scamble
  • teeny tiny
  • teetertotter
  • tic-tac
  • tick-tock
  • tip-top
  • wiggle-waggle
  • wishy-washy
  • zigzag

Click here for other lists of rhyming words.

Poetry Reading at Barnes & Noble

On September 21, 2016, I did a poetry reading for a small group at Barnes & Noble in Spokane, Washington as part of a local program called “Poetry Rising.” I read a poem from each of my books, including my new anthology, One Minute Till Bedtime.

The folks at Poetry Rising were kind enough to send me  this video of the event.

Spring 2017 School Author Visits

Welcome Kenn Nesbitt

“Your presentation was the best we have ever had.”

“You by far surpassed our expectations.”

“Our students are still buzzing about it! The enthusiasm you generated is phenomonal!”

These are just a few comments from schools who have had me visit with their students. If you are considering having an author visit your school, I would love the opportunity to get your students excited about reading and writing.

My school visit calendar is filling up for the spring, but I still have dates available for an author visit to your school, whether in-person or online.

I will be visiting the following cities this spring and still have open days:

  • January 9-13 – Spokane, WA
  • February 13-17 – West Texas
  • February 20-24 – Portland, OR
  • March 13-17 – Baltimore, MD & Washington, DC
  • March 27-31 – San Antonio, TX
  • April 3-7 – Central California
  • April 17-21 – Connecticut
  • April 24-27 – Eastern Oregon
  • May 8-12 – Cedar Rapids, Iowa City & Davenport, IA

If your school is interested in booking an author visit during one of these trips, or any other week this school year, please contact me by filling out the information request form on this page.

You will find my calendar online here. Any dates not otherwise marked are probably available.

I look forward to hearing from you.

New Book: One Minute Till Bedtime

One Minute Till Bedtime

I’m thrilled to announce the release of my newest book, One Minute Till Bedtime. This is the first anthology that I have put together, and it has already received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal, plus it has been selected by Publishers Weekly as a Best Book of 2016.

One Minute Till Bedtime contains over 140 brand-new poems from more than 130 poets from around the world, including such luminaries as Jack Prelutsky, Jane YolenJon Scieszka, Joyce SidmanJudith Viorst, Lemony Snicket, Marilyn SingerNikki Grimes, and many, many others. Each of the poems in this collection–all perfect for bedtime–can be read in about a minute. With seven sections, each with roughly twenty poems, One Minute Till Bedtime holds a full week of 20-minute sleepytime readings.

The beautiful hardcover book is whimsically illustrated by the incomparable Christoph Niemann, whose witty, minimalist drawings compliment and enhance the poems, giving readers even more to ponder as they get ready to dream.

One Minute Till Bedtime is now available in the US wherever books are sold, including:

It is also available for purchase now in Australia:

In the UK, it will be available on December 8, 2016:

Whew!

2016-17 School Author Visits

Kenn Nesbitt Presenting

I hope you had a wonderful summer and are settling into the new school year nicely. With the 2016-17 school year underway, I’m now booking school author visits, both in-person and online.

If your school is looking for a way to inspire your kids to want to read and write, my high-energy poetry writing programs are just the ticket. You don’t need to take my word for it, though. Click here to see what other schools have said about my visits.

Upcoming Visits

You don’t need to wait for me to be in your area to book a visit. I cap my travel expenses, regardless of what it costs me to get there, so it won’t cost you extra if you are the first school in your area to book a visit.

However, here are some of the places I’m already scheduled to be this school year. I still have dates available each of these weeks.

  • WA, Bellingham – September 26-30, 2016
  • ID, Bonner’s Ferry – October 10-14, 2016
  • OR, Portland – October 24-26, 2016
  • TX, Odessa/Andrews – February 13-17, 2017
  • TX, San Antonio – March 27-31, 2017
  • CA, Porterville – April 3-7, 2017

You can view my full event calendar here. Any dates not otherwise marked are probably available for a visit to your school.

More Information

For more information about my programs and fees, simply fill out this form and I will contact you with further details. I look forward to hearing from you!