Thursday, April 03, 2008

Another Great Novel in Verse

I have a group of kids in my class this year who LOVE novels in verse. They love Heartbeat by Sharon Creech, Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli and Becoming Joe DiMaggio by Maria Testa. As a teacher, I am finding that these are great books for readers of this age (and beyond). These novels tend to have a lot of depth. Some of my students who have difficulty sticking with books until the end, have the stamina to finish a novel in verse. I am not sure if they like the fact that they feel like they are turning pages quickly or that each page is shorter than a typical novel. But, they are reading some great books in this genre and they are really changing the ways they think about what they read because of it.

So, I am currently on the lookout for books like this to add to my collection. Sometimes the books are a bit too sophisticated for 3rd and 4t graders.

This week, I read 42 MILES by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. (She is an Ohio author which adds to the fun of finding a new book that I love!). The book is about JoEllen. JoEllen splits her time between her mother's home in the city and her father's home in the country. The book is told in first person so we get into the thinking of JoEllen and how she feels about having these two quite separate lives. The book (and JoEllen) deal with issues common to so many kids--divorce, friendship, bullies, rules, teachers and more). Many of the poems in the book can stand alone as powerful poetry. Many can be used as mentors for student writing. But the way the poems work together gives us a story about a girl and family that is a good one. Illustrations, photos, maps, etc. add to each page so there are visuals throughout. This book packs a lot in with just 73 pages.

I am excited to add this book to my collection. I am sure it will make its rounds in my classroom this week.

My favorite line in the book (in case you were wondering):
"My favorite poems
squeeze your hand
on a crowded street and say:


  1. I love verse novels because I love turning the pages faster. Her Reaching for Sun is also wonderful, esp. as it speaks to and for people with a disability.

    I'll look for this one too.

  2. Anonymous7:07 PM

    I was just talking about Heartbeat, Locomotion and Love That Dog with my colleagues today. Thanks so much for informing me about another new one!!! You are the best!!!


  3. Anonymous1:59 PM

    WOW! I can't thank you enough for the kind words about my new baby! I hope all your students enjoy it...
    I have resources for it on my website, too.

    THANK YOU!!!!!

    -tracie vaughn zimmer

  4. Ok, ok, you've convinced me -- I'm going to have to start a tub of stories in verse. So now, I'm headed back to Cover to Cover -- darn!

  5. I adore, adore, adore your blog! Stumbled upon it and have done nothing but read the archives for the last 3 nights. Ordering books like mad for my ES library here in Bangkok, but wishing I could run out immediately and get a million of the titles.

    Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate is my new favorite novel in verse. :)
    Thanks so much for this wonderful resource blog. The passion from the two of you is so evident.


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