Friday, April 01, 2011

I AM THE BOOK by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Last year, I launched a game of Poetry Tag in celebration of National Poetry Month (where poets shared original poems, tagged another poet who shared a poem connected with the previous poem, and on and on). It was so much fun it has spawned a whole book of poetry tag for kids—which I’m promoting like a wild woman here, at PoetryTagTime, and at the PoetryTagTime blog. And I’m sticking with my “tag” theme this year, too, as we pause to promote poetry far and wide. However, this time, I’m featuring reviews of poetry books out this year (2011), connected in that same “tag” fashion, from one to another. Plus, I’ve involved my students enrolled in my graduate course in poetry for children as guest reviewers. Some of them even tried creating digital trailers for their selected books. So, here we go: one review a day for the next 30 days, your mini intro to the latest poetry for young people.

Guest Reviewer: Nancy Molina

Featured Book: Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2011. I Am the Book. Ill. by Yayo. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 9780823421190.

Nancy writes: Hopkins assembles a collection of thirteen poems written by various poets all on the subject of books that celebrate reading. All of the poems are by well-known poets like Naomi Shihab Nye, Beverly McLoughland, and Kristine O’Connell George to name a few. Hopkins includes a table of contents that lists the poem title and poet which is extremely helpful in finding a particular poem. Also, in the back is an “About the Poets” section that gives brief yet interesting information about each poet that contributed to this anthology. While most of the text of the poems is in a bold black font, the titles along with the table of contents and headers of the “About the Poets” section alternate in various classic colors like red, blue, and green. All of these text features makes the collection easy to read and easy to navigate.

Likewise, the illustrations are in bright basic colors inviting the reader to carefully peruse each detail. Using colorful acrylics, Yayo elaborates on each poem to not only add to the meaning, but to prompt wondering as well. It is a fascinating combination. For example, the illustration for the poem entitled, “A Poem Is,” Yayo creates an amusement park out of musical instruments. It is a clever illustration for the poem in that the poem uses the simile “like bumper cars/at a fair” and the metaphor “an orchestra/of sounds.” The reader will find it entertaining to try to name the various instruments and what they represent in the amusement park.

All the poems are simple enough for young children to understand yet meaningful enough for older children to explore. In the poem, “Quiet Morning” by Karen B. Winnick, young children can enjoy the simplicity of a boy, a book, and a dog having something to do on a rainy day, whereas, older children can speculate on why the boy and the dog are in the book. This is just one example of how the poems and illustrations work perfectly together. Some of the poems rhyme while others are free verse, and all can be used for one literary element study or another, such as, alliteration, onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, etc. “Poetry Time” by Lee Bennett Hopkins uses onomatopoeia to craft an amusing rhythmic rhyme, “It’s poem o’clock/Time for a rhyme- /tick-tock/ding-dong/bing-bong/or/chime.” Children will love reading this one out loud. Below is a sample poem from this collection.

Quiet Morning
by Karen B. Winnick

Early in the morning
dog, book and me
spend quiet moments
just we three.
Snuggled by the window,
chin on my knee
close to the raindrops,
dog, book and me.

To introduce the poem, ask the children to share what kind of things they like to do on a rainy day. Then ask them how many of those things they could do if their electricity goes out on a rainy day. Display the poem so all the children can see it as the teacher/librarian reads it. Then, have the children read it out loud in chorus. Next, divide the children into two groups and have one group read the first stanza, and the other group read the second stanza. As a follow-up activity, have the children draw pictures of their rainy day activities.

More news: Check out Lee Bennett Hopkins's new web site, an excellent resource on his life, books, awards, and more.

Tomorrow’s tagline: More poems about books

[And don’t forget to get your own copy of PoetryTagTime, an e-book with 30 poems, all connected, by 30 poets, and downloadable right now at Amazon for your Kindle or Kindle app for your computer, iPad or phone. Just 99 cents. Spread the word.]

Image credit: Holiday House; Rich Arnold

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell and students © 2011. All rights reserved.


Michele Krueger said...

Congratulations on Poetry Tag Time-it's wonderful!
And I'm glad to see your first review is of I Am The Book. I am delighted to be part of the collection!
Happy Poetry Month!

Michele Krueger

Diane Mayr said...

I just downloaded the Kindle app for my computer and then I purchased Poetry Tag Time. It was easy. Now I'm going to sit back with a cup of tea and read all the poems. Thanks!

Laurina Cashin said...

Sylvia, you have such creative ideas for your blog. I love this one of review tag and can't wait to see where it leads.