Friday, July 30, 2010

Poetry Friday -- Visual Verse

Last week, when I had a chance to spend the day in Denver visiting friends, Carol and I browsed the children's book section of Tattered Cover pointing to books we'd read, heard about, wanted to read, and loved dearly. Both of us were trying hard not to spend too much money, and the talk must have satisfied some kind of need, because we each only bought one book. Carol got Out of My Mind and I bought a 2005 Ed Young book that I had somehow missed.

The minute I opened Beyond the Great Mountains, I knew I had to buy it. You've made flip books with your students, haven't you? Check this out inside:

When the pages lay flat, you can read the poem -- each line is on the edge of the page. Open a page and you find the illustration and the Chinese characters (ancient and modern) that echo the image.

This book could be a mentor text for writing about a beloved place or person, or even about oneself. Research findings might be written poetically and illustrated symbolically. So much to love about this book!

Here is an excerpt from the Author's Note:
"Once, I asked a Western artist to use Western symbols to describe his concept of the word leisure. He immediately chose to describe it with a person floating on his back in water. The Chinese mind chooses to be less literal--for instance, one can place a moon between two panels of a doorway to show a state of mind by which one not only notices but also admines the quiet beauty of a moonbeam peeking in through that sliver. I think of this as visual verse. Rather than showing a particular instance of the idea, it reminds us that ideas are bigger than a single instance."
You can find a conversation with Ed Young at Chronicle Books.

The Poetry Friday roundup is at Irene Latham's blog, Live. Love. Explore!
Along with a Happy Poetry Friday, I'll make the name of her blog my wish for you today!


  1. Beautiful, Mary Lee!! That is seriously gorgeous, and I love what he says in the Author's Note. You could make a poem out of that.

  2. OK, I might have to go back and see if they have any more copies of this book. I want one!

  3. What a beautiful book! I am ordering it today. Thank you - I want to make a book like this and share it with students as well...

  4. Sounds like I need to add this to my shopping list. Thanks!

  5. Yes yes yes! I love this book. Discovered it back in May when I did a round-up of Asian American picture books. Don't know how I could have missed it. It's absolutely stunning. Very clever concept.

  6. I ordered copies of the book and am going to give as gifts and keep one for me. I am going to use it to inspire a Nature Journal, with each page in the flip book (or layered look book) our pictures and journal notes from our walks on the nature trail behind our school. We will do this for each season and then we will write our poetry on the tabs. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Oh this would be a great book to use with a "line a day" poem that "grows" on the dry eraser board at school. (You add one line each day - discuss how it changes the pieces as it goes.) Will look for it!


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