Monday, April 07, 2008

Sneak Peek: John Frank

Next week at the annual conference of the Texas Library Association, I’ll be hosting our (fourth annual) Poetry Round Up, modeled after the ALSC Poetry Blast held at the ALA convention every June. It’s an opportunity to enjoy some of the best poets writing for young people today sharing favorites from their own work through reading aloud or performance. One of the panelists is up-and-comer, John Frank. He is an accomplished poet as well as an author of humorous stories. His 2001 picture book The Tomb of the Boy King was proclaimed "a mesmerizing epic poem" by Publishers Weekly. School Library Journal called his poetry collection, A Chill in the Air: Nature Poems for Fall and Winter “an evocative collection” with “fresh images.” His recent title, How to Catch a Fish received a *Starred Review* from Booklist, calling it full of “resonating poetic vignettes that spawn a glinting, striking catch.” Texas readers will also love the wonderful read aloud picture book, The Toughest Cowboy How the Wild West Was Tamed.

Here’s a poem from his latest collection, Keepers, just out this spring, illustrated with photographs by noted photographer, Ken Robbins. It’s a spare and lovely collection with the parallel poetry and photography organized along several themes, focusing on treasures one finds at the beach, in the attic, in the mountains and deserts, at the flea market, and beneath the ground—urging us to look closely, enjoy the hunt, and appreciate the rare find.

Pull out a dime. Invite kids to study it: the images, the words, the date. (The one pictured is actually from 100 years ago: 1908.) Think aloud together about how many hands this coin has touched; what kinds of purchases it has made.

Old Coin
by John Frank

I found a dime
a century old
while digging deep below.

Imagine what
it might have bought
a hundred years ago.

From Keepers (Roaring Brook Press, 2008, p. 59)

Just for fun, pair this anthology with Alice Schertle's poetry collection also entitled Keepers (HarperCollins, 1996) illustrated in beautiful watercolors by Ted Rand. Invite children to share their favorite treasures and find poems to match (or write their own).

Picture credit:;

1 comment:

laurasalas said...

Sylvia, thanks for this post. I love both A Chill in the Air and Schertle's Keepers, so I'm definitely going to have to check this out!