Heidi has a new collection of her own poetry out this fall and I'd like to toot her horn a bit, because it's one of my favorites out this year. It's Pumpkin Butterfly; Poems from the Other Side of Nature, a collection of "nature" poems that begin with fall, so it's perfect to buy and share right now and to follow the ongoing rhythm of the school year for kids. There are 23 poems in a variety of poetic forms and structures, many in free verse that is lilting and rhythmic. Her poems celebrate fall leaves and compost, squirrels and raccoons, ice and snow, sore throats and jumping shadows, fresh fruit and cherry blossoms, thunderous skies and nighttime dark. There's even a terrific tribute to Charles Darwin's "guest list" for a "garden party."
Her use of language is lovely, full of metaphor and sensory moments. Kids will surely respond to the specificity of her examples and details-- evoking vivid images and emotions. Watercolor illustrations by Jenny Reynish create an inviting backdrop for the poetry, suggesting a tiny bit of action without overwhelming or derailing the poem.
Here's just one example, a poem that turns the tables on children's usual fears of the dark and personifies night in interesting ways.
by Heidi Mordhorst
Night is deep in a dark box
deep in a cushion of down
nestled in tissue
tied with ribbons
Night is asleep in the dark
Night wakes with curious paws
wakes in a furry fog
wrestles the tissue
nibbles the ribbons
Night is awake in the dark
Night tumbles in velvet directions
tumbles along to your bed
sniffing your wishes
wagging your worries
Night is a friend in the dark
Mordhorst, Heidi. 2009. Pumpkin Butterfly; Poems from the Other Side of Nature. Honesdale PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, p. 20.
The poem has a gentle repetition of key words-- especially in the last line of each stanza. Invite kids to join in on those lines (in bold) and talk with them about how they might personify "night" or draw a picture together with chalk on black paper to illustrate the poem.
For more poetry thoughts, join the Poetry Friday gathering hosted by my TWU-bud, Becky at Becky’s Book Reviews.
Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell c 2009. All rights reserved.
Image credit: Wordsongpoetry.com