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Suzanne McCabe
Scholastic Editor-at-Large

“Neon Aliens Ate My Homework”


Nick Cannon with the cast of Make it Pop, a new show that he produced for Nickelodeon. Photo by Grace Gan

Who doesn't have an excuse for not turning in their homework? Still, hats off to Nick Cannon for his unusually artful dodge. When the actor, musician, and writer was in fourth grade, he told his teacher that he had been abducted by aliens after completing an assignment—aliens who liked loose leaf. Cannon's tall tale so impressed his teacher that she encouraged him to develop his creative gifts.

With his new illustrated book, Neon Aliens Ate My Homework and Other Poems (Scholastic, 2015), Cannon hopes to inspire kids to write—while getting a few laughs along the way. "Poetry is a great form of self-expression," he told Scholastic News Kid Reporter Madison Medina. "It's fun. It allows you to use the creative side of the brain. But at the same time, it allows you to be an individual. There's really no right or wrong way to express yourself in poetry."

Cannon's poems, including "Put on a Smile," will appeal to kids of all ages and help them cultivate their best selves:

Be who you are, not who the world wants you to be
Love yourself, not the person the world wants to see
Embrace your flaws and turn them into a style
The best kind of fashion is when you put on a smile

Poems like "Haiku" make an often-intimidating genre accessible:

A haiku once asked,
"What type of poem am I?"
I really don't know.

As a kid, Cannon found joy, laughter, and a second home in the works of poet and author Shel Silverstein. "He made me smile in my tough times," Cannon writes. "He encouraged me to live life through my rhymes."

What better gift is there? Happy National Poetry Month.




Nick Cannon Reads "Neon Aliens Ate My Homework"

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Books by Shel Silverstein

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Poetry Writing Workshops for Your Classroom

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Using Poetry as a Teaching Tool

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Teaching Resources for National Poetry Month

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