Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Announced

The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, sponsored by Penn State University, was announced yesterday and I am pleased to share that news. The winner?
Jazz by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers (published by Holiday House)

You may remember that I wrote about this book previously when it received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator honor citation, was selected as one of the five poetry books nominated for the Cybils Award, and appeared on my very own list of the “Best Poetry for Children in 2006.” Clearly, it is a terrific book! As I noted previously, it’s a vibrant picture book poetry collection that is a celebration of jazz music and history and a tribute to New Orleans. The language is vivid and participatory and the art is obviously prize winning—sprawling and expressive. It also includes a helpful “Introduction,” “Glossary of Jazz Terms,” and a “Jazz Time Line.” And the illustrations in Mardi Gras colors of green, golds, and purples just leap off the page, the perfect accompaniment to the lively language. It was a challenge to choose only one poem to lure you into the book, but here’s just one I love and think kids will enjoy it, too:

by Walter Dean Myers

We got jiving in our bones, and it won’t leave us alone—we’re really moving
jiving / bones
We got pride in our stride, and we know it’s all the style—we’re steady grooving
pride / stride
This piano’s hard and driving, and the tones are getting to me—hear them talking
driving / tones
There’s a glide to the ride, and the feeling’s coming through me—the bass is walking
glide / ride
I hear singing in my heart, yes, it’s rhythm, yes, it’s art, no use in stalling
singing / heart
I got jump in my feet, and I’m turning up the heat, left hand hauling
jump / feet
I’m out here swinging from the start, can’t get no higher
swinging / start
We got bump in the beat where the crazy rhythms meet. This band’s on fire!

Doesn’t that poem just beg to be HEARD? To be chanted, sung, or shouted out loud? Involve the kids in bringing the poem to life—first by chanting the two word phrases after a narrator reads each primary line, then by calling out alternating lines, or adapting all the lines for multiple groups. Then follow up with adding piano, drum, horns or homemade instruments while saying the lines. Listen to recordings of jazz greats. Add movement, dance, even hip hop!

The award committee also selected three Honor books:
Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky (Greenwillow Books)
The Braid
by Helen Frost (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) [See my previous entry about this book on July 19.]
Tour America; A Journey Through Poetry and Art by Diane Siebert (Chronicle Books)

The LBH award committee also recognizes a new, up-and-coming poet. The Lee Bennett Hopkins/IRA Promising New Poet Award was given to Joyce Lee Wong for Seeing Emily (Abrams). I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t read that book yet-- somehow it slipped under my radar-- but I’ve ordered it and will write more about it as soon as I can. Congratulations to Joyce Lee Wong, too.


Laurina Cashin said...

I agree that Jazz is a fine choice. Live Oak Media has an outstanding audio production of this book -- a perfect blending of words, art and music.

Susan said...

Thanks for the news, Sylvia. Were you on the judging committee?

Sylvia Vardell said...

Nope, I just got the news from Lee himself! :-)

Susan said...

Awesome! Gracias for sharing the news with us.

Anonymous said...

Jazz also won the Golden Kite (SCBWI) for Picture Book Text