Winner, Crystal Kite, 2012, SCBWI Metro New York

Singing ducks and flowering shoots in the poetry app for iPad, A Word's a Bird

Scholastic Professional Books, 2003. Full of amazing poems by Orel's middle grade students.

Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, 2008. Soon an app from Auryn, Inc.


Photo copyrighted to Jan La Roche, 2011

Orel Protopopescu, award-winning children’s author and poet, has been published by major houses. A Thousand Peaks, Poems from China (with Siyu Liu) was selected for the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age, 2003 list. Two Sticks is on Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year 2008 list. Thelonious Mouse (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011) is her second, highly-praised collaboration with the illustrator, Anne Wilsdorf, and the winner of the Crystal Kite Award, 2012, for SCBWI, NY Metro region. Her book for teachers, Metaphors & Similes You Can Eat and Twelve More Poetry Writing Lessons (Scholastic, 2003) has inspired thousands of wonderful poems from children in grades 4-8.

Orel's first two picture books, Since Lulu Learned the Cancan and The Perilous Pit (a New York Times Best-illustrated Book, illustrated by Jacqueline Chwast) are now iPad apps from Auryn, Inc. Her poetry app for iPad, A Word's a Bird, Spring Flies By in Rhymes was chosen by School Library Journal as one of the best children's apps of 2013 and has been praised by poets Billy Collins and Naomi Shihab Nye. This interactive, animated, bilingual poetry app features poems Orel wrote and translated into French (Un Mot Est Un Oiseau). It was produced by Syntonie, an imprint of Actialuna, and is illustrated by Jeanne B. de Sainte Marie. Orel shared the app as a visiting poet at Marymount School, Paris, and the American School of Paris in April-May, 2013. She has presented it to elementary schools and a junior college in the greater New York region.

A native speaker of English, Orel is fluent in French. She and her husband, Serban, have lived in France for extended periods.

Orel's poetry for adults has appeared most prominently in Oberon where she won several awards, a first honorable mention from the Pulitzer prize-winning poet Louis Simpson and first prize in the 2010 contest, judged by L. S. Asekoff, for the poem, “Listening to My Favorite Things from the Best of John Coltrane,” also published in the anthology, The Poeming Pigeon:Poems About Music, in November, 2016. A poem that first appeared in Oberon, "My Father Beyond the Pale," won commended status in the Second Light Live Poetry Competition, 2016, published in November of that year. Her chapbook, What Remains (2011), was published by Finishing Line Press.

Her poetry has also appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Poetry Bay, Light, Lighten Up Online, New Verse News, Socialism and Democracy and other reviews and anthologies. She teaches at the Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington Station, New York.

A gifted and nurturing teacher, Orel conducts writing workshops for students and teachers. As a former student, Christine Slatest, now a 7th grade English teacher, said, “My interest in writing poetry began in Mrs. Protopopescu’s workshops. Her visits to my elementary school changed my life.”

Orel says, "I have never written for the market, but only what I felt moved to write. I have never written anything for children that I don't still enjoy reading aloud to them. They never fail to astonish and instruct me. I strive to make my books, poems and iPad apps into inviting spaces where children can laugh, grow and dream."

The cardinal sings and flowers open and close to touch. English/French glossaries and narration.

Poem written in Orel's Poetry Workshop, published in Metaphors&Similes You Can Eat Illustration by Jeanne de Sainte Marie

Selected Works

iPad App, Poetry
"A Word's a Bird slows down the frantic speed of most apps for children to fit the slower pace of Nature. The beauty of the illustrations, the meticulous work of the artists, and the interactive play combine to make a wondrous learning experience, a terrific way to expose children to poetry, art and Nature itself."
--Billy Collins, Poet Laureate
of the United States from 2001-2003

"A truly enchanting and poetic journey, this application is a treat for the eyes and ears..."
-- iPadou

“In perhaps the app’s most engaging feature, tapping out any melody on the lilies causes the ducklings to mimic it.”
--Kirkus Reviews
Picture book (ages 4-7)
"Replete with scat-y, cat-and-mouse–y wordplay, this is giggle-worthy fun."
--Kirkus Reviews
"The hip rhythms and tongue-twisting humor in this jazzy, poetic, fun-to-read-aloud book make it a keeper your child will want to read over and over again."
--Cricket Magazine online
— “Getting the beat and the tongue-twisting phrases just right takes some practice, but the outcome is well worth the effort.”
— "Children will cheer for this rascally oddball rebel."

Thelonious Mouse got his name from the great American jazz composer and pianist, Thelonious Monk. This jazzy mouse risks his tail and more to fierce Fat Cat, because Thelonious has “too much music in him to stuff into a mouse hole.” Yet beneath the sometimes scary hilarity, young readers discover a vital message: It takes courage to be all we can be.

Thelonious Monk showed that creative courage all his life, persevering with his unique style of music when others called him “eccentric.” He was also a devoted family man, who composed songs for his son and daughter.
Orel Protopopescu is a poet of lyrical mastery and ease—and this, her initial volume of verse!
--Vince Clemente
Poetry and history (grades 5 and up)
Thirty-five poems, from the Han dynasty to the modern era, in English and Chinese. “It's about as close to Chinese literature as young English-speaking readers can get.”
--School Library Journal

Quick Links

Find Authors