Loris Lesynski

High praise for Loris Lesynski: 

“You’ll be joining the ranks of Lee, Prelutsky, and Silverstein. You are much needed!”
—Sam Sebesta, author and Professor Emeritus, Children’s Literature, University of Washington

Loris Lesynski doesn’t just write poems for kids. She takes them into classrooms to test them out on her target audience, then perfects them until each one gets kids laughing and tapping to the rhythm. Her latest offerings, Crazy About Hockey! (Spring 2015) and Crazy About Basketball! (2013), follow the original title in the series, Crazy About Soccer! (2012). These books combine her love of language with the most popular sports in playgrounds today.      

Earlier books include Shoe Shakes (2007), which sets its sights on preschoolers who get a kick out of wacky sounds and off-the-wall ideas. “I Did It Because ...”: How a Poem Happens (2006) is a unique collection blending the “best of” with “how to” for passionate poets, while Zigzag: Zoems for Zindergarten (2004) combines pictures, sounds, and movements, appealing even to children who don’t speak English yet as well as to the grown-ups who will be reading the poems aloud. Loris strongly believes that pleasure in the sound of language is the basis for a love of reading, and has seen thousands of children respond with delight to good rhythms and funny words.

Loris Lesynski’s first picture book, the wildly popular Boy Soup, was published in 1996 and reissued with new art in 2008. In the rollicking rhyme of Ogre Fun (1997), an ogre-boy tries to cure a contagious case of yawning. Catmagic (1998), another rhyming picture book, tells the story of Izzy the splotchy cat, who decides to find a way to live on the ceiling in the cluttered and colorful Witches’ Retirement Home. In Night School (2001), Eddie finds a school for kids who like to stay up late. Rocksy (2002) is the hilarious tale of a girl named Roxanne who fatefully wishes she were made of stone to avoid scrapes and scratches in the playground.

Loris’s first book of lively, humorous poems, Dirty Dog Boogie (1999), was praised by School Library Journal as being “a collection that will appeal to fans of Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein.” The response to Loris’s jazzy, juicy rhymes helped to establish her as one of North America’s pre-eminent poets for young people. Dirty Dog Boogie was revised in 2002 with full-color illustrations. A second zesty collection of poetry, Nothing Beats a Pizza, followed this success in 2001. Kids in classrooms often write variations of these poems, or get together in groups to put them to their own doo-wah arrangements. Cabbagehead (2003) is full of poems about ideas—the getting and keeping of them—for kids in a world too full of kits and products instead of their own projects. With her characteristic wit and word wizardry, Loris explores good ideas, bad ideas, and downright cabbagehead ideas in over 28 poems. Loris loves it to bits when kids get inspired to write their own poems, songs, or stories after one of her visits.

Loris greatly enjoys speaking at teachers’ and librarians’ conferences to share insights on selecting, enjoying, and performing rhythm and rhyme from the author’s point of view. She also does occasional school visits, preferably to a maximum of two or three classes, in a library setting, with lots of time for questions (children’s and teachers’) about writing, drawing, publishing, design, or other authors. Handouts of classroom activities are made available, full of ideas gathered from many different schools and their unbelievably creative teachers, and she sends a poster to the school in advance so the kids have a good sense of who is coming (this is because, she says, she spent most of her own childhood quite lost in her thoughts and often wondered after an event, “Who was that?”).

In 1999, Loris recorded her books on tape for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and they’ve all been converted into Braille.

Loris lives in Toronto. She can be reached at 416-802-0064.

School, Library, and Conference Presentations
Delicious English: The Beat Goes On: Loris encourages kids and teachers to toy with variations of her poems and to write their own. She demonstrates the great fun of “Rebound Reading”—reciting poems as a group, particularly funny ones—as an excellent way for kids to get used to reading out loud. Lots of hamming up and sound effects are inevitable, though always with nimble use of language and satisfying rhythms.
Presentation format: A humorous, interactive presentation
Maximum: 2–3 classes, library setting, no gyms
Recommended age group: Kindergarten to Grade 6
Length: 1 hour
Recommended for conference presentations and workshops for teachers.