Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A December Filled With Poetry




Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole
by Bob Raczka
illustrated by Chuck Groenink
Carolrhoda Books, 2014

This is a very fun book.

You might have seen it reviewed (with a spotlight on the author) by Michelle at Today's Little Ditty. It's worth looking at again.

Bob Raczka Santa has written a haiku a day for the entire month of December, and they are collected here to give readers a peek into the secret life of Santa, beyond what we know of him in his workshop and sleigh. We get to know his love of nature, the way he and Mrs. Claus decorate for the season, and (through the illustrations) that he has a big orange cat that looks much like the one that lives in our house!

Buy a copy and make this a December tradition in your house! Maybe you could write companion haikus each day in December from the point of view of the elves or the reindeer!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Poems for Very Short People




by Lin Oliver
illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014

(In case you are wondering about today's post title, yesterday's post was "Very Short Poems." Go check it out. I'll wait.)

Welcome back!

Is it ever too soon for children to learn to love the rhythms, rhymes, and fun of poetry?

NO!!

Here's a great book for a baby shower gift. It will be as much fun for new parents to read over and over again as it will be for a new generation to listen to, look at, and slap their slobbery little hands all over the happy babies they see in Tomie dePaola's illustrations.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Very Short Poems



Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems
selected by Paul B. Janeczko
illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Candlewick Press, 2014

I don't know whether I love this collection more for the poetry or for the illustrations. Either way, it's a winner.

Beginning with Spring, each of the seasons is explored through eight or nine poems from a variety of both adult and children's poets.

Each poem is a snapshot, a glimpse, a moment. They are perfect for showing children the power of just a few words to describe or evoke or illuminate.

And did I mention that the illustrations are beyond lovely? They are classic Melissa Sweet. I wish I could frame every page.

This is a collection you will want, and a fabulous gift book. Share the love.

Check out Mary Ann's review at Great Kid Books.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Poetry and Imagination



Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems
by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian
illustrated by Jeremy Holmes
Schwartz & Wade, 2014

As I noted last Wednesday, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." Last Thursday, we looked at science in poetry, Monday we looked at nature in poetry. Tuesday, the focus was on history in poetry, yesterday we took a look at biography in poetry. Today, let's have fun with imagination in poetry.

The subtitle of this book says it all: "Crazy Car Poems."

If that didn't get your attention, check out the co-authors -- J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. Now you KNOW you're in for some fun, right?

If you're still not sure, here's a bit from the introduction poem, "Introduction:"

"...But someday our fantastic cars
Might look like cool dark chocolate bars,

Banana splits, hot dogs or fish --
Or any kind of ride you wish..."

This book is all kinds of imaginative fun. The plays on words are groan-worthy, and the illustrations are a blast.

Poem-Mobiles was reviewed by Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup (check out the picture of the Teddy-Go-Cars -- doesn't that make you want to use up some of the leftover Halloween candy making Snickermobiles?)

Becky has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Tapestry of Words.




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Biography in Poetry



Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
by G. Neri
illustrated by A.G. Ford
Candlewick Press, 2014

As I noted last Wednesday, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." Last Thursday, we looked at science in poetry, Monday we looked at nature in poetry. Yesterday, the focus was on history in poetry, and today we'll take a look at biography in poetry. In one final post in this series, we'll have fun with imagination in poetry.

I grew up listening to my parents' Johnny Cash albums, and his Greatest Hits CD (The Essential Johnny Cash) is one of my go-to "setting up/cleaning up/putting to bed the classroom" sound tracks. I didn't know that much about his early life until I read this collection of poems.

Here is an excerpt from the final poem, "The Man in Black:"

"Hello,
I'm
Johnny
Cash"
is how he started
every concert from then on.
that simple statement
said it all.

Johnny Cash,
the poor country boy
from the cotton fields,
traveled the world
many times over,
where he sang
for presidents
and the homeless,
businessmen and farmers,
soldiers and prisoners alike.
It didn't matter how famous he got,
he never forgot
what it felt like to be cold,
miserable, and hungry.
Momma didn't have to
remind Johnny
that his gift was special.
He knew he was not its owner
but its caretaker.

Here's Johnny Cash in 1958, singing "I Walk the Line." Check out that wink at about the 50 second mark! **swoon**

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

History in Poetry



Harlem Hellfighters
by J. Patrick Lewis
illustrated by Gary Kelley
Creative Editions, 2014

As I noted last Wednesday, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." On Thursday, we looked at science in poetry, and yesterday we looked at nature in poetry. Today, the focus is on history in poetry. Upcoming posts include biography and imagination in poetry.

This gorgeously illustrated book of poetry for older readers teaches about 369th Infantry Regiment in World War I. Originally mobilized as the 15th New York National Guard, this group of 2,000 black American soldiers became famous not just for their tenacity on the battle field, but for the music they brought with them and which helped them to survive.

The tragic death of the band leader, James "Big Jim" Reese Europe, just a year after Armistice Day, gives this little-known story from WWI an extra measure of poignancy.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Nature in Poetry




by David Elliott
illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
Candlewick Press, 2014

As I noted last Wednesday, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." On Thursday, we looked at science in poetry. Today, the focus is on nature in poetry -- specifically, birds. Upcoming posts include history, biography and imagination in poetry.

My students and I have loved David Elliott's short, pithy poems in his collections On the Farm, In the Wild, and In the Sea. In this book, the essence of seventeen species of birds, from the ordinary sparrow to the exotic Japanese Crane pictured on the cover are captured in Elliott's words and Becca Stadtlander's gorgeous and evocative illustrations.

Sadly, last June, Holly Meade, David Elliott's illustrator for the other books in this series (On the Farm, In the Wild, In the Sea) died at age 56. David Elliott dedicates this book to her.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Science in Poetry



Winter Bees: & Other Poems of the Cold
by Joyce Sidman
illustrated by Rick Allen
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014

As I noted yesterday, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." Today we'll look at science in poetry. Upcoming posts include nature, history, biography and imagination in poetry.

Joyce Sidman's Winter Bees is the perfect book to usher in this year's first Polar Vortex. Every day, compliments of the TV weather reporters, we are getting a science lesson in meteorology. Sidman's book will answer questions about how animals survive in the cold.

Each of the dozen poems, most about animals ranging in size from moose to springtail, but also including trees and snowflakes, is accompanied by a short sidebar of scientific information that expands the scope of this book to topics such as migration, hibernation, and the shape of water molecules, and introduces such delicious vocabulary as brumate, ectothermic, furcula, and subnivean.

The illustrations are simply gorgeous. You will want to spend as much time with them as you do savoring Joyce's poems. Watch out for that fox -- s/he wanders throughout the book!

As you and your students explore this book and Joyce's others, don't forget to check out Joyce's website. It is a treasure-trove for readers, writers, and dog lovers.


Keri has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Keri Recommends.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Everything is a Poem




by J. Patrick Lewis
illustrated by Maria Cristina Pritelli
Creative Editions, 2014

What is more fun than a whole shelf full of J. Patrick Lewis poetry books? An anthology with all of his best poems collected between its covers!

Knowing that Pat has published a shelf-full of poetry books, one wonders how on earth he picked these "bests" that can be found in such wide-ranging topics in the table of contents as Animals, People, Reading, Sports, Riddles and Epitaphs, Mother Nature, Places, and A Mix?

Inspired by his title, I have prepared a series of posts that will spotlight 2014 poetry books that feature poetry in science, nature, history, biography, and the imagination. Stay tuned!


Over at No Water River, Renee reviewed Everything is a Poem last summer. For a peek at the illustrations and some of the poems, head on over there now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reading a Poetry Book With Nonfiction Eyes




The Poem that Will Not End
by Joan Bransfield Graham
illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker
Two Lions, 2014

Like many new nonfiction picture books, this book has lots going on on every page. There is the main text -- the poem-story of how Ryan O'Brian's brain is taken over by rhythm and rhyme -- accompanied by the poems Ryan O'Brian writes as he goes through his day. There are detailed and entertaining illustrations that elaborate on Ryan O'Brian's adventures. At the end of the book, there is more information about the different forms (19 in all!) and the different voices (narrative, lyrical, mask, apostrophe, conversational) he uses in his poems.

So, in the same way that a multi-text nonfiction book can be read and re-read for many purposes, this is a book that readers can return to again and again. It will be interesting to share this book next to a nonfiction book in a minilesson in reading workshop on text structures. In writing workshop, I can share it as a resource for examples of poetry forms and voices. On Poetry Friday, we can be entertained by the main story, or any one of Ryan's poems.

Lots of possibilities here!


Last January, the book launch blog tour began with Sylvia at Poetry For Children. Check the links at the bottom of her post for other blogs on the tour.