Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Links turns 20

Since it's time for the annual convention of the American Library Association (hi from New Orleans), I thought it might be a good moment to plug the latest issue of Book Links magazine, a Booklist publication of ALA. Book Links is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special issue this month "with a look at the most groundbreaking books and authors of the past two decades." My "Everyday Poetry" column is a full-blown article on the recent history of poetry for children entitled, "Time for Poetry; Two Decades of Poetry for Children."

I had a lot of fun looking back at the publishing of poetry since 1990 and was surprised and pleased to see how many "new" poets have emerged during this period. Here are just a few excerpts from my piece. (The entire thing is available at Booklist Online to subscribers, fyi.)

Time for Poetry; Two Decades of Poetry for Children
When we stop, take a breath, and look back, we see that the last 20 years have given us a whole new generation of poets writing for young people including Douglas Florian, Joyce Sidman, J. Patrick Lewis, Kristine O’Connell George, Janet Wong, Pat Mora, Helen Frost, Nikki Grimes, Margarita Engle, and many more. It’s seen the emergence of new awards for poetry for children established by Lee Bennett Hopkins (in association with Penn State University; for poetry books in 1993 and for new poets in 1995), Bank Street College (the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award in 1998), and the Poetry Foundation (the Children’s Poet Laureate in 2006).

ALSC began featuring the now-annual Poetry Blast with poets reading from their works at the ALA annual conference in 2004 (I'll report on the 2011 event on Monday!) and the National Council of Teachers of English initiated the annual “Poetry Notables for Children” list in 2006. We’ve seen the rise of the novel in verse and the fall of the multi-poet anthology. Now poets have web sites full of kid-friendly resources, many blogs showcase weekly “Poetry Friday” sharing, and the Cybils award celebrates poetry (among other categories) selected by children’s literature-focused bloggers. Poetry for children now makes its appearance as downloadable audiofiles and as e-books for Kindles and iPads. What’s next?

First, let’s take a look backward. Prior to 1990, we must not overlook the gigantic contributions of Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein who paved the way for many of today’s poets with their irreverent humor and child-centered topics. Nor should we discount the previous recipients of the NCTE award whose poetry careers established the depth and breadth of the genre for decades: Lee Bennett Hopkins (2009), Mary Ann Hoberman (2003), X. J. Kennedy (2000), Eloise Greenfield (1997), Barbara Esbensen (1994), Valerie Worth (1991), Arnold Adoff (1988), Lilian Moore (1985), John Ciardi (1982), Eve Merriam (1981), Myra Cohn Livingston (1980), Karla Kuskin (1979), Aileen Fisher (1978), and David McCord (1977).

The works of these great names still merit reading and sharing. In fact, these poets are new names, too, for any child who has not yet encountered their poetry. Poetry has a special advantage in achieving timelessness—consider Ann and Jane Taylor’s “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” published in 1806, for example. Let’s consider some of the major mile markers along the way over the last twenty years.

The 1990s
Here, I discuss the work of several poets who began publishing at the beginning of the decade (Marilyn Singer, J. Patrick Lewis, Kristine O'Connell George, Alice Schertle) as well as brand new poets who follow in their footsteps...

Next I discuss the rise of the popular topic of SCHOOL in poetry for young people...

Humor in poetry is the next focus...

Poets from parallel cultures
A new wave of poets from parallel cultures began writing and publishing poetry for young people in the 1990s. Although poetry by the likes of Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton and others had been available to young readers for years, this decade brought an emergence of a rainbow of names whose entire writing careers now focused on a young audience. Consider these milestone works of poetry for young people:

• Gary Soto’s A Fire in My Hands (1990), a major Latino poetry collection for teens
• Naomi Shihab Nye’s This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World (1992), the first of several compilations of world poetry for young people
• Joseph Bruchac’s Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back (1992), a milestone work of Native American poetry for children
• Walter Dean Myers’s Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse (1993), followed by several award winning poem-art collaborations with his son, Christopher
• Joyce Carol Thomas’s Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea: Poems (1993), a celebration of African American heritage and identity
• Janet S. Wong’s Good Luck Gold and Other Poems (1994), the first mainstream Asian American poet for young people
• Pat Mora’s Confetti: Poems for Children (1996), the first mainstream Latina poet for young people
• Francisco Alarcón’s Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems/Jitomates Risuenos y Otros Poemas de Primavera (1997), a landmark bilingual Spanish/English collection

These beautiful and groundbreaking works laid the foundation for the emergence of many other distinctive poetic voices from parallel cultures including Charles R. Smith Jr. (Rimshots; Basketball Pix, Rolls, and Rhythms, 1999), Jorge Argueta (A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada, 2001), Carole Boston Weatherford (Remember the Bridge: Poems of a People, 2002), Hope Anita Smith (The Way a Door Closes, 2003), and Joyce Lee Wong (Seeing Emily, 2006).

Novels in verse
... is the next topic... then...
The 2000's
and
More Changes...


Conclusion

In just 20 years, the field of poetry for children has been transformed by new voices, new styles, and new formats. But those established names haven’t stopped creating either. Don’t overlook works such as The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination (2009) compiled by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Wilson or The Great Migration: Journey to the North (2011) by Eloise Greenfield or Roots and Blues; A Celebration (2011) by Arnold Adoff or A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes (2010) or City Kids: Street and Skyscraper Rhymes by X. J. Kennedy (2010) or Birds of a Feather by Jane Yolen (2011).

Named the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation in 2006, Jack Prelutsky continues to write new works that receive instant recognition, such as his latest The Carnival of the Animals (2010) with the accompanying musical CD. Even the late great Shel Silverstein published another posthumous anthology in 2011, Every Thing On It. Lee Bennett Hopkins, 2009 NCTE Poetry Award winner, continues to produce award-winning works of poetry such as his own City I Love (2009), as well as nearly 40 anthologies in the last 20 years, including Good Rhymes, Good Times (1995), My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States (2000), Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More (2005), America at War (2008), and Sharing the Seasons (2010). In addition, his anthologies often mark the debut of new up-and-coming poets such as Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Jill Corcoran, Toby Speed, Cynthia Cotten, and many more.

It’s exciting to see the genre of poetry grow and expand in all these different directions, exploring possibilities of poetic form, hybrids with other genres, and a creative use of design, visuals, and media. I’ve often said there is such variety in the smorgasbord of current poetry that everyone can find something to savor. The key is in keeping our poetry collections varied, current, and in use. With well-stocked shelves brimming with the poetry gems of the last 20 years and a bit of poetry promotion (in April and beyond), kids will find something to enjoy and cherish for a lifetime. In the next 20 years, today’s readers are tomorrow’s poets—but only if we share poetry with them now.


Image credit: 

Booklist


Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2011. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Norwegian and Braille poetry

Here's the final installment in my video "series" of readings from around the world. Both clips feature books from Norway.

The first is from the IBBY Documentation Centre of Books for Disabled Young People, sponsored by IBBY and currently housed at the Haug School and Resource Centre in Sandvika, Norway and managed by Director Heidi Cortner Boiesen.

The aim of the Centre is to “promote research, production, mediation and the use of books especially designed for disabled young people.” It is a project of IBBY and the Center develops an annotated catalogue and international traveling exhibition, the "Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities" list launched biennially at the Bologna Book Fair. Here's Sissel Hofgaard Swensen who assists with selecting the titles for the Outstanding Books exhibition and catalogue reading an excerpt from the book, Pass deg, Line (No. 18), a novel for and about young adults with learning disabilities.

video


Sissel is also involved in another project, “Books for Everyone” is a Norwegian organization that supports and promotes “adapted literature” with the goal of providing books to all those who struggle with reading sponsored by The House of Literature in Oslo, Norway. This project included one poetry book unlike anything I have ever seen! It is designed for both sighted and visually impaired children (in Braille and with tactile elements) with components on every page to read-- in print or in Braille, as well as tactile components to engage the child and expand the rhymes through multiple senses. It's ingenious! My short demo video doesn't really do it justice, but here you go:

video


Image credit: SV; IBBY



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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

IBBY Honour List: Irish poem

Here's one more "international poetry video"-- this time featuring an Irish poem for children. It's from a book on another international book list, the IBBY Honour List, a biennial selection of outstanding, recently published books, honouring writers, illustrators and translators from IBBY member countries around the world. The titles are selected by the National Sections which can nominate one book for each of the three categories: writing, illustrating, and translating. The whole 2011 list is available here.

Important considerations in selecting the Honour List titles are that the books are representative of the best in children's literature from the country and that the books are suitable for publication throughout the world.

The Honour List diplomas are presented at the IBBY Congresses where the catalogue is introduced and the books are shown for the first time. Thereafter seven parallel sets of the books circulate around the world at exhibitions during conferences and book fairs. Permanent collections of the IBBY Honour List books are kept at the International Youth Library in Munich, the Swiss Institute for Child and Youth Media in Zurich, Bibiana Research Collection in Bratislava, at IBBY in Tokyo, and at Northwestern University Library at Evanston, Illinois.

I wrote about the IBBY Honour List last year when the list was first announced. But this year, I was able to corral a colleague into letting me film her reading a poem. Here's the featured book.

IRELAND (Irish)
Ní Ghlinn, Áine
Brionglóidí agus aistir eile
(Dreams and other journeys)
Ill. Carol Betera
Clár Chlainne Mhuiris: Cló Mhaigh Eo, 2008
84pp; 130x200mm
ISBN 978-1-899922-49-9 Ages: 10-13
Poetry

This collection of 40 poems on the theme of dreams encompasses an interesting range of voices guaranteed to bring a fresh perspective to the ordinary. A mouse dreams of sprouting wings to swoop like a bird-of-prey on its enemy the cat, while a dinosaur skeleton in the natural history museum imagines falling in love and fathering the first dinosaur babies in sixty-five million years. A school trip to Mars, a library in which characters are dislodged from their books and a flirtation between the sun and a grey cloud, are just some of the surprising happenings in this vibrant collection. The poems are rhythmic, the imagery vivid and the language musical. While each poem is a gem in itself, the themes are beautifully developed in the collection as a whole.

My friend and colleague, Valerie Coghlan, a children's literature expert in Ireland (and President and former editor of Bookbird) read the poem, "The Wind of the Year" from this book. Check it out:

video


Image credit: SV

; IBBY

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


Monday, June 20, 2011

White Ravens list 2011

The International Youth Library (IYL), the world's largest library of international books for children and young adults, compiles an annual list of best children's books from around the world called the White Ravens list.The 2011 list includes 250 titles in 30 languages from 40 countries. Of these, I found 14 poetry titles-- from 12 different countries.

Pictured on the left, is the IYL booth at the Bologna Book Fair where all the White Ravens books are displayed for study and perusal. It's one of my favorite parts of attending the Fair and I'll miss having the opportunity to see these books "in person" now that my Bookbird editorship is ending and I'm not likely to be at the Fair often in the future.

And below are the final poetry selections from the 2011 White
Ravens list, representing Canada, Finland. Hungary, Latvia, and Ukraine. (I was not able to find volunteers to film them reading poems from these books-- sorry!)

CANADA (French)
Christos (text)

Quentric, Lauranne (illus.)

Le mangeur de sons (The sound eater)

Montréal [Québec]: 400 Coups, 2010. – [32] p.
ISBN 978-2-89540-501-6

City – Noise – Sound – Quiet – Glutton – Illness – Poetry

A very special glutton eats all sounds, tones, and noises of the city. As he grows older he suffers from severe digestive problems as a result. The doctor puts him on a diet – unsuccessfully, since he continues to uncontrollably gorge himself on city noise. One day he becomes very sick from this. The children of the city want him to become well again and together with the adults find ways to reduce the noise in the city. Suddenly, wholly forgotten sounds can be heard again, such as the singing of house keepers, the rustling of leaves or even just the wind. Illustrator Lauranne Quentric transforms Christos’s clever poem into sassy colourful collages. (Age: 6+)

FINLAND (Finnish)
Itkonen, Jukka (text)

Pikkujämsä, Matti (illus.)

Krokotiili hikoaa ja muita eläinrunoja (The crocodile is sweating and other animal poems]

Helsinki: Kirjapaja, 2010. – 32 p. 
ISBN 978-951-607-835-2

Animals – Poetry

The book cover announces it: this book is good for you! And it’s true. Jukka Itkonen’s entertaining poems and children’s riddles bring the animal kingdom to life. It’s especially the exotic animals of Africa who bound across the pages – like a zebra whose white jacket gets black stripes from the shade of the baobab tree, or like a termite who is never home alone because it is always surrounded by a thousand friends. Very witty, sometimes also spooky and exciting, these poems are pure fun. The illustrations of Matti Pikkujämsa lend Jukka Itkonen’s verses special shading: colourful and surprising in their creativity, they add an extra dimension to the work. (Age: 3+)

LATVIA (with Russian poems, too)
Brūveris, Pēters (text)

Maurīte, Ieva (illus.)

Raibajā pasaulē (Multi-coloured world)

Rīga: Zvaigzne, [2010]. – 78 p.
ISBN 978-9934-0-0181-9

Everyday life – Nature – Poetry

Pēters Brūveris is one of Latvia’s most popular and renowned poets. This time, he has not written poems for an adult audience but for children. Complemented by Ieva Maurīte’s illustrations partly drawn on dyed pages, each of the poems shows through its rhythm, language, and topic how varied the “Multi-Coloured World” can be. With lightness and charm, the texts offer a glimpse into wondrous worlds within our everyday experiences: This includes fantastical mirages and amusing animal antics as well as thoughts about friendship. One special aim of this book is to promote mutual understanding: It contains three Russian poems that serve as an introduction for Latvian children to the mother tongue of the Russian minority living in their home country. (Age: 5+)

UKRAINE
Holoborod’ko, Vasyl’ (text)

Levi, Inha (illus.)

Viršiv povna rukavyčka. Poėzija (A glove full of verses. Poetry) 

Kyïv: Hrani-T, 2010. – 73 p.
(Series: Sučasna dytjača poėzija)

ISBN 978-966-465-300-5

Poetry – Haiku – Aphorism 

The “Glove Full of Verses” constitutes Vasyl’ Holoborod’ko’s extraordinary contribution to Ukrainian children’s poetry. The renowned poet is a member of the equally renowned “Kiev School”, which has produced modernist poems undermining Socialist realism since the 1960s. Holoborod’ko’s short verses about animals, wind and weather, and a child’s experience – inspired by Japanese haiku – stand out for their pithiness, their immediacy, and their partly thoughtful, partly witty characteristic style. Thanks to their intentionally and cleverly placed gaps and breaks, the poems make readers pause for a moment, and thus provide ample room for thought. Inha Levi’s colour-pencil drawings hint at each text’s subject, but also leave enough space for the readers’ own imagination. (Age: 5+)

HUNGARY
Varró, Dániel (text)

Maros, Krisztina (illus.)

Akinek a lába hatos. Korszerű mondókák kisbabáknak

(Feet in size six. Modern children’s songs for the littlest ones)

Budapest: Manó Könyvek K., 2010. – 31 p.
(Series: Manó könyvek)

ISBN 978-615-5028-05-2

Father – Child – Poetry

In fun, reflective poems, a young father experiences and accompanies the first months of his child’s life. From waiting in anticipation of the birth, to diaper changing, feeding, burping, going for walks, all the way to a bedtime song for baby and daddy, the young man takes on his new role responsibly. Tongue in cheek, the author includes a performance instruction for each part of the poem. So, for instance, one is advised to “speak with a high voice”, “to speak next to the computer”, or “When we don’t know what else to do”. The book offers a fresh take on daily familial life, which a man meets with enthusiasm and joy. Large amusing illustrations that combine water colour with pastel chalk sensitively and aptly accompany the poems. (Age: 1+)


Children's Poetry Calendar
One last nugget: The IYL is collaborating again to produce a second calendar featuring poetry for children. It's a European style calendar with one page-- and one poem-- for each week of the year. It's produced in gorgeous full color on thick, creamy paper and is truly a work of art. Each poem appears in its original language, as well as in German (since it's produced and distributed in Germany). It's an amazing "anthology" of world poetry for children and last year's first calendar became a bestseller and I'm sure this new one will too. It will be available via Amazon.UK, I believe. Here's a sneak peek at the calendar cover:





















Image credit: SV

; IYL

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

Sunday, June 19, 2011

U.S. poem video

The International Youth Library (IYL), the world's largest library of international books for children and young adults, compiles an annual list of best children's books from around the world called the White Ravens list.The 2011 list includes 250 titles in 30 languages from 40 countries. Of these, I found 14 poetry titles-- from 12 different countries. I took pictures of each of the books and found volunteers to read selections from 7 of them for a short video. Here are two poetry books from the U.S. on the 2011 White Ravens list.

USA
Sidman, Joyce (text) 

Prange, Beckie (illus.) 

Ubiquitous.
Celebrating nature’s survivors 

Boston [et al.]: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010. – [36] p. 

ISBN 978-0-618-71719-4 

Nature – Life forms – Survival 


In their latest collaboration, Joyce Sidman and Beckie Prange continue the format of their award-winning “Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems” (2005). Delivering a combination of catchy poetry, informative science facts, and striking linocut illustrations, the author and illustrator let children in on the secret of successful survival on Earth during the past 4.6 billion years. Species as diverse as bacteria (3.8 billion years old), geckos (160 million years old), squirrels (36 million years old), and dandelions (5 millions years old) are gathered in this volume. Complemented by notes, a glossary, and a stunning timeline printed on the endpapers, texts and pictures provide readers with astonishing details about the most imperishable of our planet’s inhabitants. (Age: 5+)

And here is my friend and colleague, Linda Pavonetti, a professor in the Reading and Language Arts Department at Oakland University in Michigan, reading her favorite poem from Joyce Sidman's Ubiquitous-- in Italy!

video


Here is the other poetry book from the U.S. that made the White Ravens list.

USA
Seibold, J. Otto (text/illus.)

Other goose re-nurseried, re-rhymed, re-mothered, and re-goosed ... 

San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2010. – 69 p. 

ISBN 978-0-8118-6882-2 

Nursery rhyme – Poetry 


Mother Goose rhymes are probably the most widely-known nursery rhymes – not only in the English-speaking world. In his “Other Goose” collection, J.otto Seibold presents twenty-some of his favourite classics in awesomely illustrated new versions. From Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Peep to the Cat with the Fiddle, Seibold’s “re-nurseried, re-rhymed, re-mothered, and re-goosed” variants include the same nursery-rhyme staff, but tell slightly twisted (or even completely mutated) tales compared to those with which readers may have grown up. The artist’s computer-generated, loudly coloured trademark illustrations show flat, goggle-eyed protagonists with distorted features. The pictures are brimming with witty allusions and amusing details that perfectly complement the quirky texts. (Age: 5+)


Image credit: SV;IYL

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

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dutch poem video

The International Youth Library (IYL), the world's largest library of international books for children and young adults, compiles an annual list of best children's books from around the world called the White Ravens list.The 2011 list includes 250 titles in 30 languages from 40 countries. Of these, I found 14 poetry titles-- from 12 different countries. I took pictures of each of the books and found volunteers to read selections from 7 of them for a short video. Here is a Dutch poetry book from the Netherlands on the 2011 White Ravens list.

NETHERLANDS (Dutch)
Biemans, Ienne (text)

Jitta, Ceseli Josephus (illus.)

Rosa en de wonderschoenen
(Rosa and her wonder shoes)

[Amsterdam]: Nieuw Amsterdam, 2010. – 62 p.

ISBN 978-90-468-0711-8

Poetry



Rosa is paying a visit to Sister and her mother Toketore while wearing her magic shoes. Thirty-two poems tell of the adventures of the main characters, in which animals and being together are central themes. Biemans writes in a vivid style and often uses absurd humour. The poems have an agreeable rhythm. Feelings are described powerfully, for example the homesickness Sister experiences when she stays the night at a friend’s house, or the sudden tears that come when watching a sad movie about nature. The illustrations, which combine black and red, fit the book perfectly; sometimes they give the reader a better understanding of the poem, but they may also offer a different interpretation of the text. This is poetry that stimulates the imagination of young children. (Age: 5+)

Here is Ingrid Bon, uber-librarian and leader in IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations), reading a poem from this book.

video



Image credit: SV;IYL

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

Friday, June 17, 2011

Russian poem video

The International Youth Library (IYL), the world's largest library of international books for children and young adults, compiles an annual list of best children's books from around the world called the White Ravens list.The 2011 list includes 250 titles in 30 languages from 40 countries. Of these, I found 14 poetry titles-- from 12 different countries. I took pictures of each of the books and found volunteers to read selections from 7 of them for a short video. Here are two poetry books from Russia on the 2011 White Ravens list.

RUSSIA
Djadina, Galina (text)

Bichter, Aleksandr (illus.)

Knižka v tel'njaške. Morskaja azbuka
(Little book in a sailor’s shirt. A marine alphabet)

Sankt-Peterburg: Grif [et al.], 2010. – 61 p.

ISBN 978-5-85388-040-5

Sea – Water – Poetry

In 2010, the children’s book publisher Detgiz organised its second festival for young children’s book authors. In cooperation with the publishing house Grif, they have now published the first book written exclusively by Galina Djadina, who belongs to this new generation of authors. Her poetic kaleidoscope about life in and at the sea is brimming with ideas. From albatross to life belt, from Neptune to tsunami, from sea cucumber to tiger shark – this volume gathers everything connected with the marine world. Djadina turned the content into wonderful verses and arranged them cleverly. For example, she separates the word “iceberg” into two parts and puts the shorter “ice” on top of the longer “berg”. Thus she linguistically imitates a phenomenon observed in nature: Often the ice above the water is only the tip of the iceberg. (Age: 5+)

DUE TO TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO LOAD THIS VIDEO CLIP AFTER MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS. Heck!

Here is my IBBY colleague and Russian children's book illustrator, Anastasia Arkhipova, reading a poem from the book above.

And here is another Russian work of children's poetry on the White Ravens list this year.

Usačev, Andrej (text)

Olejnikov, Igor' (illus.)

Kolybel'naja kniga (The lullaby book)

Moskva: Ripol-Klassik, 2009. – [36] p.

ISBN 978-5-386-01704-0

Night – Sleep – Lullaby – Good night story – Poetry 


When you read Russian children’s poetry, you are bound to encounter Andrej Usačev – not only because he likes putting his poems to music and performing them, but also because his poetry is truly harmonious and varied in terms of metre, rhythm, and topic. In his “Lullaby Book”, the poetic universe touches upon everything connected with sleeping and the night: pillows, dream worlds, hibernation, not-wanting-to-go-to-sleep, darkness, quietness, the moon, and fireflies. What Usačev manages to achieve in his onomatopoeic rustling poems, his counting-out-rhymes, and his wordplays, Igor’ Olejnikov accomplishes just as well in his illustrations: He depicts the ocean’s stillness in serene blue within a static maritime landscape, places the wakeful little dragon with its bright red head into a swinging scene, and employs colours and composition flexibly to trace the literary motifs. (Age: 3+)




Image credit: SV;IYL

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

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Japanese poem video

The International Youth Library (IYL), the world's largest library of international books for children and young adults, compiles an annual list of best children's books from around the world called the White Ravens list.The 2011 list includes 250 titles in 30 languages from 40 countries. Of these, I found 14 poetry titles-- from 12 different countries. I took pictures of each of the books and found volunteers to read selections from 7 of them for a short video. Here is a poetry book from Japan on the 2011 White Ravens list.

JAPAN
Tanikawa, Shuntarō (text)

Motonaga, Sadamasa (illus.)

Kokoro no hikari (Light of the heart)

Tōkyō [et al.]: Bunken Shuppan, 2010. – [32] p.

(Series: Poppo raiburari: Miru miru ehon)

ISBN 978-4-580-82102-6

Heart – Soul – Emotion


The poet Tanikawa and the avant-garde artist Motonaga created the book “Moko mokomoko” (Metamorphosis of things) in 1976, and since then it has enjoyed success with readers, even its youngest ones. In the same vein, but this time without onomatopoetic words, they apply concise, verse-like texts to showcase individual positive emotions and moods that may arise in a human being at a particular time. They call it the Light of the Heart. That which is invisible is visualized using abstract images created by means of an airbrush technique, and is made perceptible through the use of finely wrought words. The heart is a universe. The breath-taking originality of this picture book is also due to the collaboration of Etsuko Nakatsuji, award winner at the Biennial Illustration Bratislava, for its layout and design. (Age: 6+)


Here is my friend and colleague, Junko Yokota, reading a selection from this book. She a professor of children's literature at National-Louis University in Illinois, an expert on international children's literature, and Director of the Center for Teaching through Children's Books there.

video


And here is Junko's translation of the poet's explanation of that poem:

video



Image credit: SV;IYL

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Italian poem video

The International Youth Library (IYL), the world's largest library of international books for children and young adults, compiles an annual list of best children's books from around the world called the White Ravens list.The 2011 list includes 250 titles in 30 languages from 40 countries. Of these, I found 14 poetry titles-- from 12 different countries. I took pictures of each of the books and found volunteers to read selections from 7 of them for a short video. Here is a poetry book from Italy on the 2011 White Ravens list.

ITALY
Zoboli, Giovanna (text)

Mulazzani, Simona (illus.)

Vorrei avere … 
(I wish I had …)

Milano: Topipittori, 2010. – [28] p.

ISBN 978-88-89210-47-5

Wish – Quality – Characteristic trait – Animals


This beautiful picture book presents a poem where the reader is invited to move through different landscapes on every page. The simple text is a list of wishes of sorts: “I wish I had” is one way to translate the title, but inside, double page after double page, wonderful possibilities are revealed which are not material, but rather are connected to the verb “to be”. Every feature of an animal, like the huge ears of the elephant, is connected to the inner sense of using it to feel the world, to listen to the voice of the sky or to blend in, like the panther does, with the black of the night. The book is an invitation for eyes and ears to imagine such beauty, and to feel connected to the natural world and the harmony of the universe. (Age: 3+)


Even though the Book Fair was in Italy, finding someone to read an Italian poem was surprisingly somewhat challenging! All my IBBY friends spoke OTHER languages! So, my IYL friends recommended a young man at the booth next door and he was kind enough to say yes when I approached him. He spoke English (with me), read the poem in Italian, then asked me if I had any Mandarin Chinese poetry I needed read aloud. Wow! Unfortunately, I have misplaced my notes with his name, so I'll have to come back and add that, when that info floats back to the top. Grazie!

video



Image credit: SV;IYL

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

German poem video

The International Youth Library (IYL), the world's largest library of international books for children and young adults, compiles an annual list of best children's books from around the world called the White Ravens list.The 2011 list includes 250 titles in 30 languages from 40 countries. Of these, I found 14 poetry titles-- from 12 different countries. I took pictures of each of the books and found volunteers to read selections from 7 of them for a short video. Here is a poetry book from Germany on the 2011 White Ravens list.

GERMANY
Rautenberg, Arne (text)

Teich, Karsten (illus.)

Der Wind lässt tausend Hütchen fliegen
(The wind blows a thousand little hats)

Köln: Boje, 2010. – 60 p.

(Series: Gedichte für neugierige Kinder)

ISBN 978-3-414-82237-6

Poetry – Pun

“The wind blows a thousand little hats” is Arne Rautenberg’s contribution to the Boje Press series “Poems for curious readers”, and it has made it into a no longer so well-kept “best kept secret” in the realm of children’s verse. In this latest romp, Arne Rautenberg’s rhapsodizing is a pure joy. Reflective phrases play their part, but the Dadaist wordplays are especially fun. They almost seem to call out: taste me, poke me! Juggling syllables and sounds makes language plastic – this is how poetry enchants. Karsten Teich’s illustrations are the icing on the cake; their humour surfaces in the subtle two-tone colorization characteristic of the series. (Age: 5+)

This title was particularly popular with the IYL folks (since the library is in Germany and German is the lingua franca of the library). They were eager to show me the favorite poem from this book (pictured in the page above), a terrific nonsense verse full of German wordplay. Here is one of the IYL language specialists, Ines Galling, reading that clever poem.

video



Image credit: SV;IYL

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

Monday, June 13, 2011

French poem video

White Ravens 2011
Poetry selections

The International Youth Library (IYL or IJB; Internationale Jugendbibliothek), the world's largest library of international books for children and young adults, compiles an annual list of best children's books from around the world called the White Ravens list. It is based on a selection of titles drawn from books that the IYL receives as review or donation copies from publishers and organizations around the world. The many language specialists at the IYL in Munich read and review these books and select the most noteworthy for inclusion. The "White Raven" label is given to books that deserve worldwide attention because of their universal themes and/or their exceptional and often innovative artistic and literary style and design.

These titles are then compiled into the annual White Ravens Catalogue, which is introduced each year at the Bologna (Italy) Children's Book Fair. The lists since 1996 are available in an online database which can be accessed by country or language. These efforts are also supported by the ICDL (International Children's Digital Library) in the U.S.

The 2011 list includes 250 titles in 30 languages from 40 countries. The White Ravens books are displayed at the IYL booth at the Bologna Book Fair. I pored over them (and their published catalog) to identify the poetry books and I found 14 poetry titles-- from 12 different countries. I took pictures of each of the books and found volunteers to read selections from 7 of them for a short video. I'll feature all these in the days ahead.

We'll begin with France. Here are two poetry selections from France which made the White Ravens list with annotations provided by the language specialists of the IYL.

FRANCE
Henry, Jean-Marie (ed.)

Poirot Cherif, Sandra (illus.)

Une baleine dans mon jardin. 60 comptines d’écrivains
(A whale in my garden. 60 literary nursery rhymes)

[Paris]: Rue du Monde, 2010. – 51 p. 
(Series: Oh! Les comptines!)

ISBN 978-2-35504-107-5

Rhyme – Pun – Poetry 


Jean-Marie Henry has put together an excellent anthology of 60 children’s rhymes and in the process introduces entirely new material. All the rhymes were written by important poets. Readers will find rhyme specimens forged by the likes of Andrée Chedid, Federico García Lorca, Victor Hugo, Raymond Queneau, Max Jacob, Philippe Soupault, Claude Roy, and Boris Vian, to name a few. Reading and browsing, one travels in amazement through a still unknown linguistic landscape full of absurdity and the most enigmatic shenanigans. In addition one falls under the spell of Sandra Poirot Cherif’s illustrations. This book inspires one to play around with letters oneself, to invent word games, and to embark on many a journey of discovery into the realm of language. (Age: 3+)

Here is Nathalie Beau, from the Centre national de la littérature pour la jeunesse- la Joie par les livres at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, reading a poem in French from this White Ravens book (above). Enjoy!

video


And below is information on the second poetry selection from France on the White Ravens list-- a fascinating French-Russian collaboration.

FRANCE
Tretiakov, Serge (= Tretjakov, Sergej) (text)

Stepanova, Varvara (paper cut-outs design)

Rodtchenko, Alexandre (= Rodčenko, Aleksandr)
Rouzeau, Valérie (transl.)

Animaux à mimer = Samozveri
(Imitating animals)

Nantes: Éd. MeMo, 2010. – [32] p.

(Series: Collection des Trois ourses)

ISBN 978-2-35289-074-4

(Text French and Russian)

Constructivism – Animals – Arts and crafts


The avant-garde artists Sergei Tretiakov and Alexander Rodtchenko left behind an unpublished book project, made in the 1920s. It is a pioneering work of Russian constructivism, published for the first time in this loving bilingual edition from MeMo publishing house. Tretiakov’s poems deal with the humorous metamorphosis of children Vanja and Katja into animal forms – giraffes, ostriches, seals –, which seem timelessly modern to us in their geometrical formal language, expressed in paper figures designed by Varvara Stepanova. Alexander Rodtchenko’s photographs set the scene for the animal shapes by means of sophisticated light and shading effects cast on little stages. The book is a feast for the eyes for children and art lovers alike, and thanks to the cut-out figures, there is much incitement to reach for the scissors right away. (Age: 8+)


Image credit: SV;IYL

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

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bologna Book Fair 2011

As co-editor of the journal, Bookbird, the IBBY journal on international children's literature, I've been required (!) to attend the annual Bologna Children's Book Fair in Bologna, Italy for the last 3 years. It's been such a treat-- a lifetime dream, actually-- and such an eye-opener in appreciating the truly global world of children's book publishing.

This year, I took my FlipCam with me with the idea of asking my international colleagues to read a poem (from newly published poetry books) in various languages. What fun that was! I'll be featuring 7 of those in the week ahead (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Dutch, and English), but in the mean time, I thought I might share 2 short (1-3 minute) videos I made of the Fair itself. Just FYI for background, before focusing on the poetry, in particular. Enjoy!

video


And here's a short piece on the special Lithuanian exhibit of children's book art.

video


Posting and videos by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2011. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

TLA: Lisa Wheeler

Time to wind up on the Round Up.
Last (but not least) up, Lisa Wheeler!


As a child, Lisa Wheeler often lost herself in books. As a teen she could be found hiding behind the pages of a book in the library during lunch. (We all know what a scary place the high school cafeteria can be!) Books were always there waiting for Wheeler to find them, and after spending time raising her children, she found them again. This time they were in her head waiting to come out-- and they did.

Wheeler is the author of 31 books running the gambit of children’s literature. She has her beginning reader series, Fitch & Chip, her very athletic dinosaurs, the latest edition, Dino-Basketball, dancing suits of armor (Boogies Knights), and her singing dogs were a “howling” success, running away with the 2006 Texas Bluebonnet Award (Seadogs).

Critics have praised her repeatedly calling her a “rollicking rhymer” who can spin a yarn with her “neatly honed verse (that) is a pleasure to read aloud.” Her use of clever wordplay, puns, alliteration, refrain and “snappy rhyming text” has made her titles storytime favorites.

And favorites with award committees as well. The American Library Association has commended her work with a Geisel Honor (Jazz Baby) and multiple places on the Notable Books for Children list. Her books have also found their way to the School Library Journal’s “Best Books” list and won an Oppenheim Gold Award (Ugly Pie). Wheeler’s most recently published book, Spinster Goose is a clever, satirical twist on classic Mother Goose rhymes.

For those considering a career in children’s literature, Wheeler suggests they start by reading. “Know what is out there to know your craft. Immerse yourself in this world of children’s books. That is not just the first step it is the journey.”


video


Here, she reads selections from Spinster Goose, revealing a wicked sense of humor!



Image credit: SV; Marianne Follis

Thanks to Marianne Follis for research and writing our intros!




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


Friday, June 10, 2011

TLA: Robert Paul Weston

Time to catch up on the Round Up.
Next up, Robert Paul Weston!


Author Robert Paul Weston has lived in many places and done many things. Former homes include Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan. Former jobs include language teacher, trampolinist, baker’s assistant, television script writer (Power Puff Girls) and financial document shredder. Currently he lives in Toronto and teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto.

His debut book for children is the critically acclaimed Zorgamazoo (Razorbill, 2008), which according to his website is for ages seven and up…”or read it aloud to anyone at all!” Booklist’s Ian Chipman claims its “bouncing and fanciful rhymes” marks the book as a “descendant of Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl.” The Globe and Mail waxed poetic (literally) about the book, stating:

“There’s something infectious
contagious, sublime

about a 280-plus page novel written
completely in rhyme.”


This totally rhyming novel follows the adventures of a young girl as she explores secret tunnels that run beneath the city and finds herself embroiled in the magical battle of the kingdoms she discovers there.

His second novel Dust City (Razorbill, 2010); a fractured fairy tale for young adults featuring wolves, the fallout from the death of a red hooded girl, and synthetic fairy dust, was released last year. Readers have much to look forward to from this up and coming author.

video


Do not miss this videoclip of his amazing performance of an excerpt from the beginning of Zorgamazoo in which he completely embodies the vicious nanny, Mrs. Gremelda Krabone (AKA “Old Krabby”) and the crazed lobotomist, Doctor Reginald LeFang. Even the other poets on our panel were laughing!


Image credit: SV; Marianne Follis

Thanks to Marianne Follis for research and writing our intros!




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