Sylvia Vardell first met Janet Wong during a conference signing for Janet’s book A Suitcase of Seaweed, published by Margaret K. McElderry/Simon and Schuster in 1996 and recently expanded and reissued as A Suitcase of Seaweed & MORE. Sylvia was a fan of Janet’s work. The feeling was mutual, as Janet was aware of Sylvia’s scholarship in the field of children’s poetry. Twenty years after they first met, they now sign books together—the dozen books they have created in The Poetry Friday Anthology® series for teachers and students, as well as the Poetry Friday Power Book series for young writers.
Sylvia Vardell is Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University where she teaches graduate courses in literature for children and young adults. She is recipient of the ALA Scholastic Library Publishing Award and the TWU Distinction in Scholarship Award. She has published 10 books on literature for children and over 100 journal articles for teachers, librarians, administrators, and parents. She authored the seminal textbook, Children’s Literature in Action: A Librarian’s Guide, as well as Poetry Aloud Here!,The Poetry Teacher’s Book of Lists, and has co-edited The Poetry Friday Anthology® series and Poetry Friday Power Book series (with Janet Wong).
Her current work focuses on poetry for children, including the nationally recognized blog, PoetryforChildren, and a regular feature on poetry for ALA's Book Links magazine. She has served on several national award committees including the prestigious Caldecott Award committee, the ALA Odyssey Award for audiobooks, the ALA Sibert Award for informational literature, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for nonfiction, and the NCTE Award for Poetry. She edited the international journal of children’s literature, Bookbird, and currently chairs the ALA Children’s Literature Legacy Award committee. She has conducted over 150 presentations at state, regional, national, and international conferences, received grants from YALSA, NCTE, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and taught at the University of Zimbabwe as a Fulbright scholar. She lives in Texas, loves to travel, and is a fan of all things Star Wars. You can find more info at SylviaVardell.com.
Janet Wong is a graduate of Yale Law School and a former lawyer who switched careers to become a children’s author. Her dramatic career change has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN’s Paula Zahn Show, and Radical Sabbatical. She is the author of more than thirty books for children and teens on a wide variety of subjects, including writing and revision (You Have to Write), diversity and community (Apple Pie 4th of July), identity (A Suitcase of Seaweed & MORE), peer pressure (Me and Rolly Maloo), chess (Alex and the Wednesday Chess Club), unlikely friendship (Minn and Jake), superstitions (Knock on Wood: Poems about Superstitions), and yoga (Twist: Yoga Poems). She is one of the most popular conference speakers in the United States on the topic of using diverse children's poetry across the curriculum, and has spoken about and read her books at venues all over the world, including the White House. A frequent featured speaker at literacy conferences, Wong has served as a member of several national committees, including the NCTE Poetry Committee and the ILA Notable Books for a Global Society committee. She is the winner of the 2021 NCTE Excellence in Children's Poetry Award.
Her two main interests now are publishing anthologies (with her colleague Sylvia Vardell) to make it easy for teachers to share poetry with students, and encouraging children and teens to publish their own writing using affordable new technologies. You can find more info at JanetWong.com.
The 800+ poems that appear in our anthologies are original poems by nearly 200 children's poets whom we fondly call the Pomelo Poets. Our list of poets reads like a "Who's Who" of young people's poetry; we are so grateful for the support we've received. Our poets include all four Children's Poet Laureates (Jack Prelutsky, Mary Ann Hoberman, J. Patrick Lewis, and Kenn Nesbitt), two Young People's Poet Laureates (Margarita Engle and Naomi Shihab Nye), six NCTE Poetry Award winners (X.J. Kennedy, Nikki Grimes, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Joyce Sidman, Marilyn Singer, and Paul Janeczko), National Book Award, Newbery, and other ALSC winners (David Bowles, Pat Mora, Linda Sue Park, Marilyn Singer, Virginia Euwer Wolff), pioneers of diverse and inclusive literature (Alma Flor Ada, Ibtisam Barakat, Joseph Bruchac, F. Isabel Campoy, Pat Mora, Lesléa Newman, and Carole Boston Weatherford), and many other acclaimed poets. Children's poets are an incredibly supportive and generous group of writers! Many of our Pomelo Poets also keep busy as conference speakers; let us know if you'd like us to help connect you!
We continually receive requests from poets who would like to be included in our anthologies. We would love to say yes to everyone; the difficulty is that we currently have nearly 200 poets on our list of Pomelo Poets. Even if we can't invite you to join us in a project, we'd still love to know about your work. Join the children's poetry community, reading and commenting on blog posts in the Kidlitosphere on Fridays (and any day) so we all can get to know you!