What a treat to end the calendar year with a dialogue about the best poetry published for young people! I was honored to serve as a Round I judge for the poetry category of the Cybils Award alongside Tricia Stohr-Hunt, Margaret Simon, Bridget R. Wilson, Kelly Ramsdell Fineman, and Nancy Bo Flood, led by our noble chair, Jone Rush MacCulloch. In case you’re not familiar with the Cybils, you’ll find more info here. “Cybils” stands for “Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards” and these were first awarded in 2006. Currently, there are 13 categories of awards including poetry, as well as book apps, nonfiction, easy readers, graphic novels, speculative fiction, etc. I’ve been lobbying for TWO categories of poetry awards, so that both anthologies AND novels in verse might be recognized (separately). We’ll see what happens with that idea.
Cybils Poetry Shortlist 2014
- Water Rolls, Water Rises by Pat Mora
- Dear Wandering Wildebeest by Irene Latham
- Firefly July edited by Paul B. Janeczko
- Santa Clauses by Bob Raczka
- Voices from the March by J. Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyon
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
- Hi, Koo by Jon Muth
The Miss Rumphius Effect
In Dear Wandering Wildebeest, Irene Latham’s poetry bounces with the impala and peeps like the meerkat. With childlike illustrations by Anna Wadham, Irene Latham takes us on a journey to the water hole of the African grasslands. Each poem is accompanied with factual information that will inform even the oldest readers.
To All the Beasts who Enter Here, there is word play with "Saw-scaled viper/ rubs, shrugs,/ sizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzles," form experiments in Triptych for a Thirsty Giraffe, humor of "Dung Beetle lays eggs/ in elephant poop,” and even danger, "Siren-howls/ foul the air./ Vultures stick to task." Children and adults alike will love the language and learning that wanders in this book along with the animals of the watering hole.
Reflections on the Teche
Prolific anthologist Paul B. Janeczko brings the old and the new together in Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems. The collection of 36 poems contains poems by classic poets such as Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. Intermingled with these are poems by well known children's poets including J. Patrick Lewis and X. J. Kennedy. Firefly July takes readers through the seasons beginning in spring and ending with winter. The poems take readers to different locations as well. Both city and country settings appear in the poems. As the subtitle states, the poems are short, but the images they evoke are almost tangible. Melissa Sweet's mixed media illustrations are colorful, playful, imaginative, and whimsical. They draw readers into the poems. Firefly July is a stellar collection that will likely be a family favorite for years to come.
What Is Bridget Reading?
Writing and Ruminating
Voices from the March is a historical novel in verse that focuses specifically on the momentous march on Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his landmark “I Have a Dream” speech. Six fictional characters (young and old, black and white) tell their tales on this historic day in cycles of linked poems alongside the perspectives of historic figures (the “Big Six”) and other march participants for a rich tapestry of multiple points of view. It’s been fifty years since the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, when discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin became against the law, but as recent events attest, we still have progress to make as a nation. In this powerful work, Lewis and Lyon tackle issues of racial and social justice in 70 lyrical poems that reflect the perspectives of young people and adults struggling with taking action for positive change in peaceful ways. In addition, extensive and helpful back matter includes a guide to the fictional and historical voices, bibliography, index, and list of websites and related books.
Poetry for Children
Brown Girl Dreaming is many things in one rich collection – memoir, history, biography – and lyrical, exquisite poetry. Events of the author’s personal and family history provide the framework for a series of individual poems. Woven throughout are key events of the Civil Rights journey and also personal effects of racism and discrimination. In this beautiful and powerful tapestry of verse, one hears the poignant reflections of Jacqueline Woodson, “one of today’s finest writers,” who kept on dreaming through tough times and good times and who keeps on writing in “mesmerizing verse.”
Nancy Bo Flood
The Pirate Tree; Social Justice and Children's Literature
Check It Out
Cybils Nominated Poetry Books 2014
- 2014 Rattle Young Poets Anthology
- Brown, Margaret Wise. Goodnight Songs: Illus. by 12 Award-Winning Picture Book Artists
- Bryan, Ashley. Ashley Bryan's Puppets: Making Something from Everything
- Bunting, Eve. P is for Pirate: A Pirate Alphabet
- Cleary, Brian P. If It Rains Pancakes: Haiku and Lantern Poems
- Cleary, Brian P. Ode to a Commode: Concrete Poems
- Elliott, David. On the Wing
- Florian, Douglas. Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles
- Frank, John. Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving
- Graham, Joan Bransfield. The Poem That Will Not End
- Heppermann, Christine. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty
- Hoberman, Mary Ann. You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Tall Tales to Read Together
- Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Manger
- Janeczko, Paul B. Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems
- Jiang, Emily. Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose @ Chinese Musical Instruments
- Latham, Irene. Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole
- Lewis, J. Patrick and Lyon, George Ella. Voices from the March on Washington
- Lewis, J. Patrick. Everything is a Poem: The Best of J. Patrick Lewis
- Lewis, J. Patrick. Harlem Hellfighters
- Lewis, J. Patrick. Poem-mobiles: Crazy Car Poems
- Lynn, Danika. Imagination Stew
- McMahon, Jeff. Swimming to the Moon / A Collection of Rhymes Without Reason
- Michelson, Richard. S is for Sea Glass: A Beach Alphabet
- Mora, Pat. Water Rolls, Water Rises Water Rolls, Water Rises: El agua rueda, el agua sube
- Muth, Jon J. Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons
- Nesbitt, Kenn. The Biggest Burp Ever: Funny Poems for Kids
- Oliver, Lin. Little Poems for Tiny Ears
- Raczka, Bob. Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole
- Radunsky, Vladimir. Alphabetabum: An Album of Rare Photographs & Medium Verses
- Schmidt, Annie M. G. A Pond Full of Ink
- Singer, Marilyn. Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents
- Swaim, Jessica. Classic Poetry for Dogs: Why Do I Chase Thee
- Thomas, J. C. Ninja Mouse: Haiku
- Wilson, Karma. Outside the Box: A Book of Poems
- Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming
- Yolen, Jane. Sister Fox's Field Guide to the Writing Life
Meanwhile, congratulations to the poets, illustrators, editors, and publishers who produced these wonderful, diverse works of poetry— from haiku to memoir to novels in verse, with a historical focus, ecological theme, santa-center, seasonal slant, or just plain fun—do not miss these poetry gems!
Meanwhile, head on over to my fellow Cybils Poetry Judge, Tricia's place at Miss Rumphius Effect for the first Poetry Friday gathering of the new year.