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Shel Silverstein Inspires Brighton Teacher to Author Own Children's Poem Book

'Never Play Checkers with a Leapfrog' is Todd Day's first published book.

Brighton High School teacher Todd Day is the author of one of the newest children's poem books on the shelves.

Inspired by greats like Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, Never Play Checkers with a Leapfrog, is not your average poem book - it actually teaches kids poetry techniques used in the book.

"Because I'm a teacher, I incorporated 15 different techniques of poetry that I use throughout the book - like simile, metaphor, personification - things like that," Day said. "It's kind of like a combination poetry book and a learning tool."

Day, who teaches newspaper and creative writing, said the idea came to him because his wife likes to hear his fun, lighthearted poems.

"I thought the book could be a jumping point to teach techniques," he said. "I don't see books out there that teach poetry or technique in the actual poem that they read. Usually they just teach technique without relating it to anything."

The poems feature black and white illustrations by Halsey Preston. Day said Preston he would email poems to Preston, who was living in Seattle, and she would email illustrations back for him to critique.

This is Day's first published book, and took about a year and a half for him to complete.

"It's really great to see it in print," he said. "It's not meant to be a money-maker. It's so I have something to hold and will have forever. I always tell my students that if you write it down physically, you're leaving a forever footprint, so I have to practice what I preach."

His favorite poem in the book, titled "Seeing Red," is actually about his dad growing up being bullied.

"There's a learning lesson there in that poem," he said. "I tried to incorporate that (lessons) in several of them."

Day said he hopes the book becomes something kids keep on their shelves, like Silverstein's or Prelutsky's works.

Day will be at the Green Oak Village Place Barnes & Noble, Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. doing a short reading and signing to promote Never Play Checkers with a Leapfrog.

He will also beat Tuesday Books in Williamston on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for another signing. Tuesday Books is located at 137 West Grand River Ave. in Williamston.

Never Play Checkers with a Leapfrog is available for purchase online at Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble.

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