Friday, June 22, 2012

Poetry books about summer

I'm off to the annual conference of the American Library Association in Anaheim and hope to pick up details on new poetry books to be released this Fall. I'll post whatever tidbits I can glean next week. Meanwhile, here's another excerpt from The Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists.

Poetry Books about Summer

Summer time is the perfect time to catch up on all kinds of poetry reading of course, but we can kick off our summertime events and gatherings with poems written specifically about summer and typical summer activities. Here are a few examples to get us started.

  1. Alarcón, Francisco X. 1998. From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems/Del Ombligo de la Luna y Otros Poemas de Verano. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.
  2. Appelt, Kathi. 2004. My Father’s Summers: A Daughter’s Memoirs. New York: Henry Holt.
  3. Bruchac, Joseph. 1995. The Earth under Sky Bear's Feet: Native American Poems of the Land. New York: Philomel Books.
  4. Carlson, Lori M. Ed. 1998. Sol a Sol: Bilingual Poems. New York: Henry Holt.
  5. Cohn, Amy L., comp. 1993. From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs. New York: Scholastic.
  6. Dotlich: Rebecca Kai 1998. Lemonade Sun and Other Summer Poems. Honesdale: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  7. Dotlich, Rebecca Kai. 2004. Over in the Pink House: New Jump Rope Rhymes. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  8. Esbensen, Barbara Juster. 1984. Cold Stars and Fireflies: Poems of the Four Seasons. New York: Crowell.
  9. Fletcher, Ralph. 2001. Have You Been to the Beach Lately? New York: Orchard Books.
  10. Florian, Douglas. 2002. Summersaults: Poems and Paintings. New York: Greenwillow Books.
  11. Frank, John. 2007. How to Catch a Fish. New Milford: Roaring Brook Press.
  12. George, Kristine O’Connell. 2001. Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems. New York: Clarion Books.
  13. Giovanni, Nikki. 1981. Vacation Time: Poems for Children. New York: Morrow.
  14. Graham, Joan Bransfield. 1994. Splish Splash. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
  15. Grimes, Nikki. 2004. Tai Chi morning: Snapshots of China. Chicago: Cricket Books.
  16. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 1993. Beat the Drum, Independence Day has Come: Poems for the Fourth of July. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  17. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2005. Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More. New York: Greenwillow.
  18. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2006 Got Geography! New York: Greenwillow.
  19. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2007. Behind the Museum Door. New York: Abrams.
  20. Hopkins, Lee. Bennett Ed. 2010. Sharing the Seasons. Margaret McElderry.
  21. Katz, Alan. 2011. Mosquitoes Are Ruining My Summer! And Other Silly Dilly Camp Songs. New York: McElderry.
  22. Lansky, Bruce. Ed. 2009. What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Kids' Favorite Funny Summer Vacation Poems. Minnetonka, MN: Meadowbrook Press.
  23. Lessac, Frane. 2003. Camp Granada: Sing-Along Camp Songs. New York: Holt.
  24. Levy, Constance. 2002. Splash! Poems of Our Watery World. New York: Orchard.
  25. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2002. A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme. New York: Dial.
  26. Lewis, J. Patrick. 1994. July is a Mad Mosquito. New York: Atheneum.
  27. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. Monumental Verses. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.
  28. McCord, David. 1999. Every Time I Climb a Tree. New York: Little Brown.
  29. Moore, Lilian. comp. 1992. Sunflakes: Poems for Children. New York: Clarion.
  30. Mora, Pat. 1998. This Big Sky. New York: Scholastic.
  31. Schnur, Steven. 2001. Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic. New York: Clarion.
  32. Shaw, Alison, comp. 1995. Until I Saw the Sea: A Collection of Seashore Poems. New York: Henry Holt.
  33. Siebert, Diane. 2006. Tour America: A Journey through Poems and Art. San Francisco: Chronicle.
  34. Singer, Marilyn. 2000. Fireflies at Midnight. New York: Atheneum.
  35. Singer, Marilyn. 1992. In My Tent. New York: Macmillan.
  36. Singer, Marilyn. 1989. Turtle in July. New York: Macmillan.
  37. Spinelli, Eileen. 2007. Summerhouse Time. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  38. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2001. Sidewalk Chalk; Poems of the City. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  39. Wong, Janet. 2008. Minn and Jake’s Almost Terrible Summer. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  40. Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2005. Sketches from a Spy Tree. New York: Clarion.
  41. Wong, Janet S. 1999. Behind the Wheel: Poems about Driving. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
  42. Yolen, Jane. 2000. Color Me a Rhyme: Nature Poems for Young People. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.

Any other good summertime poetry collections I should know about? Please let me know!

Image credit: RockBrookCamp

Copyright Sylvia M. Vardell 2012. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Poetry for dads

To all the dads out there, here's wishing you a happy Father's Day surrounded by people who care about you. If you're looking for a poem to share to celebrate dad, here's a list of poetry books about fathers (lifted from my latest book, The Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists). There are plenty to choose from!

Poetry Books about Fathers

Although mothers get many poetic tributes, fathers deserve their chance, too. Whether it’s for Father’s Day, dad’s birthday, or other occasions, sharing a poem with a focus on fathers can make for a memorable moment.

  1. Appelt, Kathi. 2004. My Father’s Summers: A Daughter’s Memoirs. New York: Henry Holt.
  2. Clifton, Lucille. 1983. Everett Anderson's Goodbye. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
  3. Fletcher, Ralph J. 1999. Relatively Speaking: Poems about Family. New York: Orchard.
  4. Grimes, Nikki. 1999. Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard.
  5. Grimes, Nikki. 1999. My Man Blue: Poems. New York: Dial Books.
  6. Grimes, Nikki. 2002. When Daddy Prays. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
  7. Hoberman, Mary Ann. 1991. Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers: A Collection of Family Poems. Boston: Joy Street.
  8. Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2009. All Kinds of Families. New York: Little, Brown.
  9. Hollyer, Belinda. 2003. Ed. The Kingfisher Book of Family Poems. New York: Kingfisher.
  10. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2005. Ed. Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More. New York: Greenwillow.
  11. Livingston, Myra Cohn. Ed. 1989. Poems for Fathers. New York: Holiday House.
  12. Micklos, John Jr. 2000. Daddy Poems. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills.
  13. Moss, Jeff. 1997. The Dad of the Dad of the Dad of Your Dad. New York: Ballantine.
  14. Rosenberg, Liz. 2001. Roots & Flowers: Poets and Poems on Family. New York: Henry Holt.
  15. Sidman, Joyce. 2000. Just Us Two: Poems about Animal Dads. Brookfield: Millbrook.
  16. Smith, Hope Anita. 2003. The Way a Door Closes. New York: Henry Holt.
  17. Smith, Hope Anita. 2008. Keeping the Night Watch. New York: Henry Holt.
  18. Steptoe, Javaka. Ed. 1997. In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers. New York: Lee & Low Books.
  19. Strickland, Dorothy S. and Michael R. Strickland. Eds. 1994. Families: Poems Celebrating the African-American Experience. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills.

Please let me know if I missed any of your favorites. And for more on The Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists, go here.

Meanwhile, join the Poetry Friday group hanging out at A Year of Reading.

Image credit:

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

Friday, June 08, 2012

White Ravens poetry 2012

Each year the language specialists (Lektoren) at the International Youth Library (IYL), in Munich, Germany, select newly published books from around the world that they consider to be especially noteworthy. This list of books is compiled into the annual White Ravens list, which is introduced each year at the Bologna (Italy) Children's Book Fair.

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. The titles are drawn from the books that the IYL receives as review or donation copies from publishers and organizations around the world.

When I was attending the Bologna Book Fair (as part of my Bookbird editor duties), I had the opportunity to examine all the White Ravens books as the list was announced-- what a treat! I was able to study the poetry selections, in particular, and even photograph the books and last year had volunteers read poems from some of the poetry books in the different languages-- and I posted those mini clips. Such fun! I wasn't in Bologna this spring, but fortunately the White Ravens list is searchable online. So, I've done the homework and have pulled all the poetry selections here for you below-- there's such a range in tone, style, and content. (Annotations from the IYL.) In the 2012 list, you'll find 18 books of poetry for children from Australia, Austria, Belgium (including a CD), Canada, and Haiti-via-Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, and the USA. Enjoy!

Here's the link to the complete current White Ravens catalog (2012).

You'll also find more info at the International Children's Digital Library, a searchable database of thousands of international books for young people, including the White Ravens catalog.

Blabey, Aaron (text/illus.) 

The ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon
Melbourne [et al.]: Penguin / Viking, 2011. – [32] p. 

ISBN 978-0-670-07474-7 

Ghost – Fear – Loneliness – Friendship 

The poor people of Twee, »seven miles from the sea«, are in uproar. A frightful ghost is haunting the village. Be it morning, midday, or the middle of the night, whenever the spooky spectre of Miss Annabel Spoon appears, she creates havoc among the population. How can they get rid of her? Young Herbert Kettle, elegantly clad in grey jacket and top hat, bravely sets out to save his neighbours and finds an unusual solution. Aaron Blabey’s exquisite picture book is told in six-line tail-rhymed stanzas and in gothic illustrations rendered in acrylics, pencil, and pen in shades of grey, brown, and olive. Both the catchy text and the dark pictures (in particular the pale ghost-lady with her dark-rimmed eyes and rigid posture) will remind readers of the classic nonsense poetry of Edward Lear and Edward Gorey. (Age: 4+)

Schawerda, Elisabeth (text) 

Bansch, Helga (illus.) 

Das Geheimnis ist blau 
(The secret is blue)

Wien: Wiener Dom-Verl., 2011. – [26] p. 

ISBN 978-3-85351-228-9

Colour – Association – Poetry

The fat toad on the cover notwithstanding, this book is not about amphibians. It is filled with poems about colour. The first, »Colour play«, reveals a spectrum subsequently differentiated. It describes turquoise water, yellow lemons, and a green garden: »Lift your head up, / under linden, beech and pine, / you can see, touch, smell, hear / all that which is green and fine«. Synaesthesia and personification occur frequently in the texts, while verse and rhyme forms vary. The illustrations are collages made from maps and newspaper clippings, and often also water-coloured pencil drawings. While the poems are about vibrant colours, the pictures themselves are slightly muted by the greyish undertone typical of Helga Bansch’s style. This lends them a delicate patina. (Age: 5+)

Dewitte, Jan (text)

Vlerick, Freya (illus.)

Rare snuiters. Een prentenen gedichtenboek
(Odd animals. A picture- and poetry book)

Gent : Poëziecentrum, 2011. – [36] p. + CD

ISBN 978-90-5655-104-9

Animals – Poetry

»Rare snuiters« is an extraordinary picture and verse book that is explicitly aimed at people with a visual handicap and children with dyslexia. The short, humorous poems are about animals, one for each letter of the alphabet, ranging from ‘Aap’ (monkey) to ‘Zwaan’ (swan). The top of each page contains a silhouette of the animal, set out in relief, and features the name of the animal in Braille. The poet even found a solution for tough letters (like X and Y), although this required some creativity; an example is the X-osaurgoat that lived long ago. The illustrations are large-planed and have an atmospheric, yet high-contrast colour scheme. This ensures that visually impaired people can view them as well. Moreover, all the images can be felt because set in relief. The photos of human eyes that have been incorporated into every image literally add a special touch. The poems themselves are not offered in Braille, but can be listened to via the included CD. (Age: 8+) H Special Mention

Phillips, Wendy 


Regina, Sask.: Coteau Books for Teens, 2010. – 196 p. 

ISBN 978-1-55050-411-8 

Teenage angst – Coming of age – Bullying – Abuse – Poetry

This award-winning free verse novel demonstrates the power of poetry both in its form and content. Thanks to poetry assignments from English class, four Vancouver high school students give voice to their conflicted inner lives: to their dreams and nightmares, their hopes and disappointments. These short, intense poems address issues of abuse, bullying, racism, violence, fitting in, love, and following your dreams. Far from presenting abstract musings, they use tangible imagery to develop the cruel plot, which seems to unfold from the characters’ inner turmoil. The interspersed e-mails between a concerned guidance counselor and the old-school English teacher as well as comments the teacher makes on her students’ assignments show adults largely out of touch with the tough teenage world. (Age: 14+) 
(2010 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature)

Various authors (text)

Rogé (illus.)

Haïti, mon pays. Poèmes d’écoliers haïtiens (Haiti, my country. Poems by Haitian students)

Montréal (Québec): Éd. de la Bagnole, 2010. – [42] p. 

ISBN 978-2-923342-50-4.

Haiti – Poetry

These powerful, evocative poems about Haiti, written by young people from the Southwest of that country, were written in 2008/2009 – before the severe earthquake of January 2010. They celebrate the beauty of the country, its (immaterial) riches and magic, yet also deal with poverty and the uprooted population. The striking large-format portraits of Haitian children and adolescents by Franco-Canadian illustrator Rogé accompany these hopeful texts. Dany Laferrière, the well-known Haitian author, justly writes in his introduction that »in Haiti, poets grow faster than trees from the earth«, and it is this youth that embodies the future of the sorely stricken country. (Age: 8+)


Beuchat, Cecilia (ed./text)

Hojas, Isabel (illus.)

Palabras, regalo palabras (Words, I give away words)

Santiago, Chile: Liberalia Ed., 2011. – 141 p.

ISBN 978-956-8484-12-5

Poetry – Language

Compiled by Chilean children’s book author and expert Cecilia Beuchat, this volume contains a marvellous selection of Spanish-language poems wonderfully well suited to reading aloud or to oneself. Beside examples of well-known poets such as Rafael Alberti, Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, one predominantly finds contemporary poems, which document the diversity and richness of the genre that plays such a crucial role in Latin American children’s literature. The editor is especially concerned to sensitise readers to the beauty and playful character of language. She has organised the poems into chapters and prefaces each chapter with an everyday word or a less usual, special one. Building on these, she binds images, feelings, and memories together, which she shares with readers in a short personal introductory text. Isabel Hojas illustrates the book in a wide range of manners. Her pictures, rich in form and colour, reveal very well the mood of each text. (Age: 8+)

CYPRUS (Greek) (Romanisation according to RAK-WB [German cataloguing rules])

Eleutheriadu, Nasia (= Eleftheriadou, Nasia ) (text)

Papatsaruchas, Basilēs (= Papatsarouchas, Vasilis) (illus.)

Stu synnephu tēn ankalē me chara kanē petali (Up in the clouds I pedal happily)

Strobolos: Parga, 2011. – [40] p. 

ISBN 978-9963-679-86-7

Experience of nature – Perception – Poetry

This refreshing collection of poetry can get children excited about the little joys of everyday life and experiences with nature, which are for them so important and wondrous. It will encourage them to approach nature with curiosity, playfulness, and amazement and to perceive it with all the senses. Silver moonbeams trace paths into dreaming, cool water melons invite diving into, and there is sailing on the wide sea. Sunrays inhibit sleeping too long, and going to the candy cane playground is the most fun. The expressive illustrations are in dialogue with the verses, interpreting them and allowing for multiple meanings. Anyone reading, listening, and looking can thus access the poems in a way that is entirely their own. (Age: 4+)

Schmitz-Kuhl, Martin (text) 

Kuhl, Anke (illus.)

Alle Kinder. Ein ABC der Schadenfreude (For all children. An ABC of schadenfreude)

Leipzig: Klett Kinderbuch, 2011 – [56] p. 

ISBN 978-3-941411-42-5

Schadenfreude – Poetry

They aren’t the cream of the crop morally speaking, and they aren’t quite above board pedagogically speaking – but that’s exactly why these twenty-six malicious little stories, compiled in picture book form by Martin Schmitz-Kuhl and Anke Kuhl, are so much fun. A small taste?: »All the kids jump through the hoop / except Pat – he is too fat.« The short couplet with internal rhyme is not a new verse form, but with the help of their children, the Kuhl couple has conjured up fresh and surprising sayings. Anke Kuhl, who was awarded the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (German Children’s Literature Award) in 2011 for her book »Alles Familie!« (Everyone is family), translates their mischievousness into image-form. Big and little alike will laugh aloud and want to think up their own mean little stories, because ultimately he who laughs last still laughs best. (Age: 5+)

Schneider, Antonie (text)

Pin, Isabel (illus.)

Kartoffeln in Pantoffeln (Potatoes in slippers) 

Berlin: Aufbau, 2011. – [32] p.

ISBN 978-3-351-04134-2

Vegetables – Word play – Poetry

In »Kartoffeln in Pantoffeln«, the protagonists are asparagus, artichokes, and – oh crumbs – spinach. True, greens may not be the favourite food of little chip lovers; yet Antonie Schneider and Isabel Pin serve their miniature vegetables so lovingly and passionately that even fervent advocates of junk food cannot but devour them. The anthropomorphic vegetables often find themselves in unexpected situations. Thanks to a sophisticated dramatic arc, the texts oscillate between tragedy and partly absurd comedy. The same is true for Isabel Pin’s carefully composed illustrations. Carrot- and broccoli-adventures tempt readers to gaze at the pictures, create their own poems, and maybe even re-enact the tales; and the prospective protagonists can simply be cast on the readers’ plates at lunchtime. (Age: 4+)

Rigó, Béla (text)

Perger, Zsófia (illus.)

Nálatok laknak-e állatok? (Do animals live with you?)

Budapest: Ulpius-ház K., 2011. – 73 p.

ISBN 978-963-254-509-7
Family – Child – Animals – Poetry

This book contains playful, imaginative children’s poems from the pen of renowned Hungarian children’s book author Béla Rigó. The book’s title, which calls to mind an old poetry collection set to music, reveals that the anthology’s theme is transformation and metamorphosis. In the two central sections of the book – »Picture postcards for Grandma« and »Titi’s poem for Grandpa« – the author portrays two families using irony and a masterful use of language, focusing especially on the experiential world of the children. The most beautiful poems are devoted to the topics of birth and death. The granddaughter says to her grandmother: »I will become earth and you will become a flower«. The lively illustrations – colourful pencil drawings reminiscent of children’s drawings – lend much imagination to the text. (Age: 5+)

Del Tufo, Chiara (ed.)

Vairo, Arianna (illus.)

Un paese bambino. Poesie per il 150° dell’Unità d’Italia (A fledgling country.
Poems for the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification)

Bologna: Stoppani, 2011. – [48] p.

ISBN 978-88-86124-78-2

Italy/1861-2011 – Children’s rights – Poetry

Young illustrator Arianna Vairo’s original style sets the tone of this beautiful poetry anthology. Fifteen of Italy’s most important poets were invited to put dreams, freedom, war, rights, immigration, good etiquette and friendship to paper. With great care, they select special words: hushed words, words of recollection, of trains and of hopes, of expectations and movement – words lined up next to each other, dedicated to the children, their country and their future. Notable names in the table of contents include Roberto Piumini, Janna Carioli, Matteo Marchesini, Alessandro Riccioni, Giusi Quarenghi, Bruno Tognolini, Giovanna Zoboli and all others. (Age: 8+)

Riccioni, Alessandro (text)

Baladan, Alicia (illus.)

Cielo bambino (Children’s sky)

Milano: Topipittori, 2011. – [28] p.

ISBN 978-888-92107-2-7


Alessandro Riccioni is a masterful, sensitive and profound poet. His words skip lightly across the page. The emotion-laden pictures of Alicia Baladan at times are wonderfully child-like and at times full of allusion. For instance, they variously refer to the films of Georges Méliès, to the extraordinary journeys of Jules Verne, to the novel »Saturnin Farandoul« by Albert Robida and to a wonderful, fanciful amusement park. With a sophisticated simplicity, this poetry collection describes a sky rife with encounters, a magical sky that changes with the decades, a sky in which clouds and sheep chase each other, where space shuttles and moored balloons circulate, thousands of stars shine, and the sun and moon, light and darkness alternate. (Age: 5+)

Lieshout, Ted van (text/illus.)

Driedelig paard. Blokgedichten, beeldsonnetten en tekeningen (Horse in three parts. Block poems, picture sonnets, and drawings)

Amsterdam: Leopold, 2011. – 87 p.

ISBN 978-90-258-5780-6


This volume contains many different kinds of poetry, verbal poems, visual poems, and block poems, which combine both: the text block as visual poetic form and the verbal content. The combination of poetical forms and media provides for an exciting reading experience. In the first part, a boy writes a letter to his grandmother, and she writes back to him in the last part. In between, there are lots of other texts, ranging from complaint letters to newsletters to scribbles. Together they form a humorous panoply that tweaks reality and fiction. Different characters are writing each time, yet slowly it becomes clear that all of them are contributing to the story about the boy and his family. This book is exquisitely designed, featuring different fonts, colour illustrations of objects and page-filling photos of strictly structured tomatoes, spoons, and radishes, for example. (Age:12+)

Kaldestad, Per Olav / Bramnes, Hanne (ed.)

Various artists (illus.)

Sølvbåt og Stjernevind. Den nye barnediktboka (Silverboat and Starwind. A new children’s book of rhyme)

Bergen: Mangschou, 2011. – 183 p. 

ISBN 978-82-8238-020-1


Small but mighty: in recent years Bergen publishing house Mangschou has distinguished itself through its ambitious projects. It is certainly an ambitious idea to produce a companion to the collection of verse »Den store dikt- og regleboka«, an old favourite in Norway. Well-known artists like Hilde Myklebust and Cathrine Grøndal, Øyvind Torseter and Inger Lise Belsvik were enlisted for »Sølvbåt og stjernevind«. The book thus makes possible a stroll through the landscape of current Norwegian authors and illustrators. First and foremost, though, this is an exceptional compendium of illustrated children’s verse, at once modern and timeless. Its scope reaches from two-line poems to ballads, from coloured pencil drawings to collage. Thanks to its diversity, it has what it takes to become a classic. (Age: 4+)

Givargizov, Artur (text)

Jaskina, Natal’ja (illus.)

Kak-to ja letel s rjabiny (Somehow I tumbled down the rowan tree)

Moskva: Izd. dom Meščerjakova, 2011. – [61] p.

(Series: Stich i štrich)

ISBN 978-5-91045-310-8

Rogue – Trick – Poetry 

Typically Givargizov! Obstreperously, brashly, and meatily as usual, one of the most important Russian children’s book authors talks about children’s daily lives in anecdotic poems. Readers will laugh at little Sergej, who almost tumbled from a rowan tree and now greets passers-by while dangling upside-down from a branch with his shirt round his ears. Givargizov’s well-known humorous dialogues are also prevalent here, e.g. in the prank call from a pupil who overslept, to the school’s director. Young illustrator Natal’ja Jaskina (born 1985), who already illustrated some titles for the Russian-Austrian publishing house Meščerjakov, creates enchantingly lively settings for this poetry. The reduced palette of matt colours and the black outlines of pictorial elements are reminiscent of illustrations from the 1960s. (Age: 7+)

Pavček, Tone (text)

Bricelj, Suzi (illus.)

Po morju plava kit. Izmišljeno resnična pesnitev (A whale swims in the sea. An imagined true poem) 

Dob pri Domžalah: Miš, 2010. – [36] p.

ISBN 978-961-272-026-1

Whale – Faithfulness – Integrity – Self-esteem

The great Tone Pavcek died in 2011. For this verse narrative, in which he displays all his talent one last time, he has created wonderfully vibrant verses that effortlessly vary in tone from humorous to serious. The tale about a whale in the bay of Piran is told in an anecdotal style but, at the same time, it also issues a warning. The whale is loved and courted by the people – not least because they hope to increase tourism. When the initial euphoria turns into disinterest, the whale disappears into other seas. Wistful but also full of dignity, he returns one last time, then leaves forever. This parable-like story, accompanied by Suzi Bricelj’s tender pictures, was nominated as picture book of the year 2011 – and rightly so. (Age: 5+)

Gerstein, Mordicai (text/illus.) 

Dear hot dog. Poems about everyday stuff 

New York, NY: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 
2011. – [32] p.

ISBN 978-0-8109-9732-5 

Anthropomorphism – Everyday object – Poetry

Bear and books, cup and crayons, socks and scissors have one thing in common: They are all inanimate everyday objects. Not so in this colourful collection of poetic poems! The quiet, pondering texts written from the viewpoints of two boys and a girl directly address the objects as if they were people or animals; e.g. a toothbrush turns into a close friend: »All night / dozing in your holder / you wait for me. / I give you toothpaste / for breakfast/ mint / your favourite...« Clearly enjoying their daily routines and small adventures, the three young protagonists in award-winning author and illustrator Mordicai Gerstein’s book breathe new life into familiar things. The bright acrylic illustrations with thin wriggly outlines add an atmosphere of exuberance and joy to the calm poems. (Age: 4+)

Salas, Laura Purdie (text) 

Bisaillon, Josée (illus.) 

BookSpeak! Poems about books 

Boston [et al.]: Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin 
Harcourt, 2011. – [30] p.

ISBN 978-0-547-22300-1 

Book – Poetry 

Books are usually there to be read. They affect their 
readers through their stories – but never speak out loud. In this colourful collection of poems, however, books and everything book-related finally get their say: The Index stresses its singular importance; the Book Plate poses a kind of riddle; the Cliffhanger demands »… Please, author, write / a sequel fast!«; and the book’s Middle complains about its current state trying to persuade either The Beginning or The End to trade places with it just this once – all in vain. Accompanied by Québécoise illustrator Josée Bisaillon’s versatile mixed-media illustrations created from collages, drawings, and digital montage, the quirky poems will fascinate and amuse young book aficionados and inspire them to compose their own bibliophile odes and ballads. (Age: 6+)

Join the rest of the Poetry Friday fun at Jama's Alphabet Soup. See you there!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Guest Post: Renée LaTulippe and No Water River

After posting a slew of video clips from spring presentations at conferences, it's perfect timing to feature a guest post by fellow blogger, Renée M. LaTulippe, of No Water River: A Video Poetry Resource for Teachers and Students. If you haven't checked her site out before, it's well worth it-- a unique and valuable contribution to sharing poetry with young people.

No Water River: A Video Poetry Resource for Teachers and Students

Renée writes...

Although I started my video blog No Water River as a personal playground for my own children’s poetry, it didn’t take long to realize that it could and should be a lot more than that. I started thinking about how much time even young kids spend on the computer and thought, Wouldn’t it be neat to put even more poetry in front of them so they can see it and hear it? That’s when I started asking other poets to join me and add their voices and poems to the project, which has since become a mission to create a vast online video library of children’s poets reading their own work.

Now that I’ve found the groove, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how teachers and students can use the NWR poetry video library in the classroom. Following are just a few ideas to get started.

Types of posts / Grade levels
• The contemporary poetry on the site is geared to younger kids from pre-K to elementary, though older kids will also enjoy many of the poems. Those videos feature simple readings by the poets in an outdoor setting. The posts also include written or video interviews with the poets and links to more information and extension activities.

• The new monthly Kids’ Classics series will include poems suitable for students from pre-K through high school, and will feature poets from A. A. Milne to Yeats. Many of those videos will be more performance oriented and delivered by various readers. The posts also include brief bios and links to more information about the poems and poets.

Language and literature appreciation. One of the goals of NWR is to instill the sense that poetry (and the poet!) is an approachable and friendly thing, not something to be feared or revered. Appreciation, then, could take the form of simply listening to and enjoying the poems and having informal conversations about how students relate or don’t relate to them. Sessions could eventually be enhanced with lessons on craft, literary devices, and the poet’s use of language, as well as with critiques on how the poet delivers the poem and discussions on where ideas for poems come from. For example, Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis’s reading of his poem “Mosquito” lends itself well to discussions about delivery and ideas: Click here.

• Writing. Use the poems as models for students’ own creative writing. For example, my poem “If I Were an Ocelot” and the poem “No Strings Attached” by Julie Larios lend themselves to the writing of “What if?” poems that are great for stretching the imagination and playing with language. In Julie’s case, she imagined what she would do if she were a kite: Click here.

Cross-curricular activities. Each poem is accompanied by links to possible extension activities that may cover everything from writing and research to math, science, and art. There are ample resources to design a single lesson or a whole unit around the poem and/or poet.

• Author study. All of the guest poet posts include a written or video interview with the poet and links to further information. Students can choose one poet from the poetry video library, watch the video, read the interview, research other works by the author, and present findings to the class.

• Oral interpretation. There’s no better way for students to experience a text and savor spoken language than by “setting a poem free” orally and physically through oral interpretation. Students should choose poems that are particularly rich in language and imagery and that tell a good story. Teach the basics of oral interpretation, encourage good diction and drama, and leave plenty of room for creativity and costumes! This activity works well individually or in pairs with poems for two voices. Celebrate by having students present their poems during an in-class Poetry Café.

For interpretation ideas, have students peruse the Kids’ Classics videos in the video library, such as my video for “Jabberwocky,” the first in the classics series: Click here.

Poetry videos. Creating a class poetry blog or online literary magazine is an excellent year-long class project. After studying the videos on NWR and practicing oral interpretation, students can design the “look” or theme of their videos and start filming their own poetry.

And this is just the beginning. As the library grows, I intend to keep refining the posts and offering more resources that will help parents, teachers, and librarians foster an early appreciation of poetry and enhance their teaching of this art form. I look forward to seeing you at NWR!

And thank you, Sylvia, for helping me spread the word about this project.

About Renée LaTulippe: A former English/theater/public speaking teacher and wannabe starlet, Renée is the editor at All About Learning Press, for whom she also co-authors pre-reading books and early readers, including Lizard Lou, a collection of rhymes old and new. She blogs on language and grammar at AALP (often under the guise of her alter ego, the Chipmunk of Doom), and composes poems for her own blog, No Water River. Renée holds a BFA in acting/directing from Marymount Manhattan College, an MA in English Education from New York University, and a Ph.D. in… oh, wait, no, that’s it. She lives in Italy with her husband and twin toddler boys.

Thank you, Renée, for your post and for your innovative work. I love this new addition of videos as a teaching resource. It's a natural!

Be sure to join the Poetry Friday crew at Carol's Corner.
Happy June 1st, everyone!