32 Books in 32 Days – Day 31: Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School

Each day leading up to the April 17 announcement of the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature


Children’s Literature Finalist,
Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School
Laura Purdie Salas, Illustrated by Steven Salerno

An excerpt from Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School:


I’m one quiet fox.
My desk is my den,
with quizzes, smooth rocks, and
a note from a friend.

I tuck deep inside
the hollowed-out wood
to make me feel safe when I’m
not understood.

In this collection of eighteen comical and imaginative poems, the “wild side,” or rather the animal side, of children is revealed. A girl feels like a mouse in a maze trying to find her classes; a boy turns into a fox in his desk when he wants to be alone; and children thunder out of school like elephants when the last bell of the day rings.

Laura reads “Picture Day” from Stampede!

“Besides being a fabulous poet and writer, Laura is also generous with information and support for her fellow writers. Her website is full of resources, her blog is full of insight and honesty, and her weekly 15 Words or Less Poetry feature is a great, no-pressure source of inspiration.” – Gregory K., GottaBook blog


Laura Purdie Salas worked as a magazine editor after graduating from college, then submitted stories as a freelance writer, and ultimately returned to school–this time as an 8th grade teacher–which is how she rediscovered her love of children’s literature. Since then she’s carved a path for herself writing for children and says she has “never looked back.” Laura has written over 80 books for kids and teens. She lives in Minnesota with two daughters, who give her plenty of ideas for stories, and her husband, who provides her with the support and encouragement to keep writing.

Steven Salerno works as an illustrator for children’s books, magazine, and advertising. He has illustrated many popular picture books for children, for both his own books and for other authors. Steven is a graduate of Parsons School of Design and lives in New York City.

See the book trailer on YouTube:


“Animal metaphors tucked into short, energetic poems that are appealing to all ages. Salerno’s illustrations blend seamlessly with the poetry, creating an effortless synergy between words and pictures.” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge

“Salas’ poems are so unique, spot on with kids’ emotions, upbeat and personal.” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge

 “No need to visit the zoo to see animals, young scholars—just look at your classmates. From the buzzing ‘bees’ swarming over the playground to the starving pre-lunch ‘bear’ with the rumbling tummy and the ‘blazing / cardinal, / winging / away’ from the rumor of a crush, school is well populated with wild creatures. Salas captures 18 of them in very short, first-person rhymes, and like fugitives from The Island of Dr. Moreau, the children in Salerno’s supple, loosely drawn cartoon illustrations sport an array of evocative animal ears, tails, patterned clothes, and altered facial features. The wild verses are positively shot through with simile and metaphor, and young readers will run just as rampant, flocking to these pitch-perfect portrayals of their peers and selves.” – John Peters, Booklist


Award winners will be announced at the SOLD OUT 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. If you wish to be placed on a waiting list should additional seats become available, please call us at 651-222-3242.

If you missed out on tickets, be among the first to hear about the winners! Follow us on Twitter as we tweet live from the gala on Saturday night.

Have you read Stampede? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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