Friday, December 11, 2009
Favorites of 2009
The year is drawing to a close and although I’m scrambling to finish my semester, I thought I’d pause to gather a list of some of my favorite poetry books of the year. I think it’s been a great year for poetry for young people with a tremendous variety of subject matter and format and heaps of quality and innovation. I wrote about trends I observed this year on David Harrison’s blog (featured last week), and about the organizing thread of TIME in many poetry books this year. Today, I’ll offer my list of 18 of my favorite poetry books for young people this year-- the most unique, most distinctive, most appealing books of poetry, in my opinion. As a group, they offer a mini-library of what’s new and great about poetry for kids: in form, in format, in look, in impact, in humor, in emotional power, etc. I’ve blogged about most of these previously, as well as many other terrific titles and I’d love to hear about other people’s favorites. Here you go…
Argueta, Jorge. 2009. Sopa de frijoles/ Bean Soup. Ill. by Rafael Yockteng. Toronto, ON: Groundwood.
*It’s bilingual (Spanish/English), it’s a recipe, it’s poetry plus cooking full of metaphors and similes and beans
Burg, Ann. 2009. All the Broken Pieces. Scholastic.
*Spare, moving verse novel about a boy wrestling with his identity as a Vietnamese child growing up in the US post war
Florian, Douglas. 2009. Dinothesaurus. New York: Simon & Schuster.
*Classic Florian wordplay and information-rich poems about dinosaurs and delectable dinosaur names
Franco, Betsy. 2009. Curious Collection of Cats. Ill. by Michael Wertz. San Francisco, CA: Tricycle Press.
*Clever concrete poems about cats and their idiosyncrasies envisioned in popsicle colored art
Frost, Helen. 2009. Crossing Stones. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
*Four teens’ lives interweave against a backdrop of WWI, influenza, and women’s emerging roles and rights
Hoberman, Mary Ann and Winston, Linda. 2009. The Tree That Time Built; A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.
*Fascinating exploration of the parallel ways scientists and poets observe and understand the natural world
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2009. City I Love. Ill. by Marcellus Hall. New York: Abrams.
*Poems can be about cities, too, and here is a playful cityscape of sights, sounds, and smells from cities around the world
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2009. Sky Magic. Ill. by Mariusz Stawarski. New York: Dutton.
*Color-drenched collection of day-to-night poems perfect for breakfast table or bedtime sharing or in between
Hughes, Langston. 2009. My People. Ill. by Charles R Smith Jr. New York: Simon & Schuster.
*A nearly theatrical re-interpretation of the classic Langston Hughes poem through Smith’s bold sepia-toned photography
Katz, Bobbi. 2009. The Monsterologist; A Memoir in Rhyme. New York: Sterling.
*Ingenious scrapbook design and moveable art showcase clever poems about monsters and the evil genius who knows them best
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. The House. Illus. by Roberto Innocenti. Minneapolis, MN: Creative Editions.
*Brilliant combination of sensitive, insightful poetry and exquisite fine art tells the story of one house across the centuries
Mordhorst, Heidi. 2009. Pumpkin Butterfly; Poems from the Other Side of Nature. Honesdale PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
*Subtle, lilting nature poems from Fall to Summer full of metaphor and imagery
Rosen, Michael J. 2009. The Cuckoo’s Haiku and Other Birding Poems. Ill. by Stan Fellows. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
*Who knew haiku could be so gorgeous, informative and inspiring? Birds, seasons, and illustrations all come together beautifully.
Ruddell, Deborah. 2009. A Whiff of Pine, A Hint of Skunk. New York: Simon & Schuster.
*Forest life across the seasons in funny-to-contemplative poems
Salas, Laura. 2009. Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School! New York: Clarion.
*Life at school portrayed through children personified as wild animals, a perfect parallel
Schertle, Alice. 2009. Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes. Ill. by Petra Mathers. New York: Harcourt.
*Smart, engaging “mask” poems personify articles of clothing
Sidman, Joyce. 2009. Red Sings From Treetops; A Year in Colors. Ill. by Pamela Zagarenski. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
*Personified colors and color words lead us through the seasons of nature in elegant, evocative poetry
Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2009. Steady Hands: Poems About Work. New York: Clarion.
*Thoughtful, descriptive poems about jobs and careers, from the usual to the unique
As award committees deliberate about their choices, as teachers select books to read aloud with kids, as librarians develop their book collections, as parents and grandparents shop for their children, I hope they’ll all include POETRY on their wishlists. There are so many wonderful works worthy of consideration and sure to hold up in repeated readings over and over again. Just $200 (app.) would buy this entire collection of my recommended list (for example) of the best poetry of 2009, a fabulous year’s worth of reading for all ages—adults included!
Join the rest of the Poetry Friday crowd hosted by Random Noodling.
Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2009. All rights reserved.
Image credit: gh3dda