PAGE THROUGH THE PARKS — Into the canyon

Several years ago, my agent asked if I’d ever thought about doing a picture book on the Grand Canyon. She knew that I’d spent a lot of my free time hiking and camping, and when I told her I’d actually hiked and camped there, in the canyon, I think we both thought, Yes, what a perfect fit.

My second trip into the canyon was metaphoric, creative, in rhyme. I’d hiked to the river and back in my 20s — this time I worked from photos, memories, an old topo map, and extensive lists of all the birds, mammals, flora and fauna found in the park. I ended up with fewer blisters on this journey, but it took me a lot longer.

Then, off my words went to the amazing illustrator Ashley Wolff, who first took her own trip into the canyon and then began the beautiful but arduous process of a linoleum block printing process that resulted in our book.


In celebration of the book and of the National Park Service’s centennial, Ashley’s shared her process here.

And then, after all was said and done, we brought one more creative partner into the mix. Debbie Gonzales, a friend and writer and educator, developed a truly wonderful teachers’ guide just chock-full of activities and discussion prompts and other ways for kids to explore the book and the canyon from their own classrooms and libraries!

sand in a jar

It’s here, ready and waiting for you and your students!

The three of us are so happy to share our love for the canyon with you this morning as we PAGE THROUGH THE PARKS. Enjoy, enter our give-away, and #readUSA

Page Through The Parks Kick-Off!

Welcome, August — you season of school shopping and diminishing vacation days.
Ugh, right?

But wait! This year, August ushers in something fresh and new but everlasting — a celebration of the National Parks. A centennial celebration, in fact! On August 25, the U.S. National Park Service turns 100 year old — 100 years of valued and protected wild spaces, 100 years of adventure and breathing space and wide-eyed wonderment.

My book IN THE CANYON, is set in a National Park (Grand Canyon National Park) and it follows a young girl and her family as they wind their way from the rim down to the river — a hike I’ve been lucky enough to do myself.

This month, I’m joining authors Janet Fox and Barb Rosenstock — both of whom also have books featuring National Parks — in a celebratory effort we’re calling Page Through The Parks.

Page Through The Parks! (1)

We’ve launched a facebook page and a Twitter hashtag (#readUSA) where you’ll be able to follow everything we’re up to.

We are doing Goodreads Give-Aways for all three books!
In The Canyon
Janet’s Faithful
Barb’s The Camping Trip That Changed America

We’ve launched a great big grand prize Rafflecopter giveaway especially for teachers and librarians. (Link coming as soon as I can figure out how to share it!)

We’ve compiled a book list nearly as long as the canyon is deep featuring National Parks to share with your children and students.

And we’ll be bouncing around blogs — our own and others — talking about the National Parks and the books they’ve inspired! This week (lucky me) we’re focusing on The Grand Canyon! I’ll be posting everyday and dear Janet Fox had me over to her place to talk too! (See that post here!) Thanks, Janet!

Now, like our facebook page, enter our give-aways and have a look around.
Then? Go for a swim or hike or something!
That’s what the National Park System would like you to do!

Poetry Princess Project — July 2016

Oh, my friends.
This was not an easy one for me.

I don’t know if I’m too distracted by the chaos that is teens plus work plus summer.
Or if I’m just intimated by Kay Ryan.

But this month’s “In the Style of” poems — sheesh!
If I had a fainting couch, I’d take to it!


So I tried a couple of different poems as my muse (aka, mentor text) and the one I came closest to not-hating is this one. It’s based on a poem of Ryan’s called Turtle that starts like this:

Who would be a turtle who could help it?
A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet,
she can ill afford the chances she must take
in rowing toward the grasses that she eats.

Mine is called Egg, and goes like this:

By Liz Garton Scanlon
After TURTLE, by Kay Ryan

Who would be an egg who could help it?
An off-kilter globe, wheel with a wacky rim,
tight-rope walker who can’t stand up for herself.
All soft-hearted on the inside but not on her sleeve –
there is no sleeve, no reach nor grasp nor opening –
nothing saying here’s who I am and how I feel.
Just this flattened wheel, matte gaze, blank slate,
hardened shell-like-stone sheer limestone cliff
of a face — strong, long and serious. Contained.
Until, from deep within, a knock like a heartbeat
only sharper, clearer. More pointed. And the illusion
cracks wide open, into cries and downy wings.


Read the fantastic poems by my pals here:


And it’s Poetry Friday here!
Happy summer, friends!

Poetry Sisters Project — June 2016

Another month, another poetry project. This one is an ekphrastic based on this amazing sculpture by Mary Pownall Bromet, a student of Rodin’s. Our poetry pal Tanita discovered her at Kelvingrove Museum in Scotland and thought yes, and we agreed.

The sculpture is called The Harpy Celaeno. The Harpy.
A name with so many connotations. Not good ones.
But there’s always another side of the story. At least that’s what I thought.

So. Without further ado….

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 9.31.26 PM

Electra’s Daughter
After Mary Pownall’s “The Harpy Celaeno”
By Liz Garton Scanlon

To be part bird but also stone?
It’s enough to drive a woman mad –
the impossibility of flight, the desire

to steal away with what belongs
to her. They call her shrill and sharp
but listen – that is a lament,

a wail, a storm of want,
a wind not in charge of herself.
Unfurl your brow, they say,

lighten your grasp. Until
she has no choice but to turn
on herself, to hold on tight.

Would you like to read the others?

And Poetry Friday is here! Enjoy, friends. And happy summer!

Poetry Princess Project — May 2016

Since a tritina is just half the size of a sestina, it should be super easy, right?

This form sort of bullied me, honestly. I felt kind of pushed in one direction or another until suddenly, poems! That I had nothing to do with! And that I didn’t necessarily love.

But ok. It’s all about the stretch.
Tritinas. Here are a few….


I roll ice around in my mouth
and even as it melts it is heavy as stone.
I want something light, like hope

something soft, a wafer maybe, hope
held like a promise in your mouth
or tossed tenderly, a skipping stone

but lighter, not this cold stoning
iciness that won’t melt, sitting hope-
less and hard to swallow in the mouth

of the river, mouth of the stone wolf holding out hope between us.

Stone Soup

The room sits empty and the night is cold.
With aching bellies we cry open-mouthed:
This is the time for soup made from stone!

What else is there? Pot, sea water, stone.
Who will bring it up to boil from the cold?
Who will add potato, something for the mouth

something real and holy for the mouth
that won’t break teeth or spirits – not stone
nor greed, not ego nor ignorance nor the cold

heart of a cold neighbor mouthing no, no like a stone.


Butter and sugar creamed = sweet.
Winter and morning married = cold.
Each blank page = hope.

I whisk and write with high hopes
in the still dark sweetness,
hands flying through the cold

making something of it. Cold
comfort, but what else is there? Hope
for a warm tart, weak light, words sweet.

Yes, that. Sweet words cut the cold and equal hope.

Ready for more?
Go see the amazing versions my pals did…


And Poetry Friday is here!