Sunday, April 29, 2012

Forget-Me-Not by Mary Ann Hoberman

Our 5Q Poet Interview series for National Poetry Month has ended and I hope you enjoyed our conversations with the 22 poets we featured along with their new poetry books for young people due out this year. A big cyber thank you to each of the poets who participated and also to my lovely graduate students who worked so hard and were so thrilled to have these connections with the poets they admire!

For the last two days of National Poetry Month, please allow me to discuss a few more new poetry books published in 2012. Today, I'd like to give a shout out to former Children's Poet Laureate, Mary Ann Hoberman, who has compiled a wonderful anthology with an ear to selecting the most musical memorizable works for children. It's:

Hoberman, Mary Ann. Ed. 2012. Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart. Ill. by Michael Emberley. New York: Little, Brown.

From the bookflap: "From the creators of the bestselling You Read to Me, I'll Read to You series comes this new collection of poems especially suitable for learning by heart and saying aloud.... [It includes] her own time-tested tips and tools for memorization and recitation -- and vivid illustrations by Michael Emberley featuring his trademark wit and lively characters, Forget-Me-Nots includes more than 120 works from both classic and contemporary poets, from childhood favorites to lesser-known treasures."

The book is organized into thematic categories including "The Short of It," "One and All," "Beautiful Beasts," "Delicious Dishes," "It's About Time," Happiness Is," "Weather and Seasons," "Sad and Sorrowful," "Strange and Mysterious," "Poems from Storybooks," and "The Long of It." The range of poets is truly impressive with many classic works by the "greats" such as Stevenson, Frost, Sandburg, Rossetti, Milne, and many more-- including poets known primarily as writers for adults. There are also many, many contemporary names represented including Gary Soto, Eloise Greenfield, Bobbi Katz, Judith Viorst, Valerie Worth, Marilyn Singer, Douglas Florian, JonArno Lawson, and Walter Dean Myers, among others.

An ending section entitled, "Some Suggestions for Learning Poetry By Heart" takes the "game" of memorization and breaks it down into manageable and meaningful "chunks." A handy index of first lines completes the whole package. A definite "must-have" resource of poetry gems in a very child-friendly and inviting format.

And the critics call it:
* "A multidimensional and thoughtful cross section of verse with keepers on nearly every page." (Publishers Weekly, starred review )

*"[A] joyous collection." (The New York Times Book Review )

*"Emberley's appealing illustrations brighten every page of this large-format book. A handsome anthology of poems that children can learn by heart." (Booklist )

The opening poem by Hoberman herself is a gem that sets the stage and is worthy of learning by heart itself:

"A Poem for the Reader"
by Mary Ann Hoberman

You're on an adventure
About to start,
You're going to learn
Some poems by heart!
Short ones and long ones,
Old ones and new,
Happy ones, sad ones,
Some silly ones, too.
You'll pick out your favorites
From those that you've read
And invite them to live in
The house in your head.
This house is called Memory,
Everyone knows,
And the more you put in it,
The larger it grows.
The more that you give it,
The more it will give,
And your poems will live with you
As long as you live.

Quite honestly, I am not a big fan of required or "forced" memorization of poetry-- having agonizing memories of reciting "The Village Blacksmith" for Mrs. Brooks in sixth grade. I'm a good memorizer, but shy (which no one believes nowadays!), so the recitation was worse than the memorization for me. That said, I am a HUGE fan of repeatedly sharing favorite poems over and over-- and kids love repetition too. When you share favorite poems over and over what happens? You memorize them naturally!

Plus, I raised a daughter who LOVED drama and theater and memorization and performance, so I became familiar with UIL competitions and other similar events through her. For some young people, these are times to shine and poetry is the perfect fit. The Poetry Out Loud competition for high school students is built upon this notion and I have been WOWED by each winner I have heard and seen perform. Hearing a poem recited/performed aloud from memory is a wonderful experience-- almost like attending a theatrical performance or musical concert. And why not make this opportunity available for children. Hoberman's book shows us-- ever so gently-- just how to go about doing that. Check it out!

Previously, I had also planned to discuss Caroline Kennedy's new collection with a similar emphasis, Poems to Learn by Heart to feature illustrations by John Muth. But I have since found out that this title has been pushed back a bit and will be published next year instead. Something to look forward to!

Image credit: 

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2012. All rights reserved.

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