Saturday, April 28, 2007

Birth date of poet Barbara Juster Esbensen

Poet Barbara Juster Esbensen was born on April 28, 1925, in Madison Wisconsin. She won the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children for her body of work and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award for her book Dance with Me (HarperCollins, 1995), among other recognitions. Her poetry collections are strong in imagery, fresh perspective and a deft use of language. Her focus on animals and nature is particularly appealing in such books as Echoes for the Eye: Poems to Celebrate Patterns in Nature (HarperCollins, 1996), Who Shrank My Grandmother's House? Poems of Discovery (HarperCollins, 1992), and Words with Wrinkled Knees (Crowell, 1986). Esbensen offers a resource for adults who want additional insight in teaching poetry effectively entitled A Celebration Of Bees: Helping Children Write Poetry (Holt, 1995). For just a taste of her work, here is one poem I particularly like:

Final edition In the index
under D I N O S A U R
we find only
the out-of-print

Once they were
a many-volume set TRICERATOPS
and BRONTOSAURUS lived there
among the footnotes

In a back room
a few large books
remain spines broken
and faded paper torn
A few legbones lie
scattered among the gluepots
beyond repair

D I N O S A U R the ancient
lizard word without
a publisher copyright

From: Esbensen, Barbara. 1986. Words with Wrinkled Knees. New York: Crowell.

Esbensen’s book, Words with Wrinkled Knees, is a creative exploration of both the WORDS as well as ATTRIBUTES of animals and animal names. For example, she imagines the giraffe in the library with the phrases “this word/ munches on the leaves/ of books lined up” and portrays the dinosaur with “out-of-print/ bones.” These library connections are especially fun and suggest activities such as posting animal poems near the animal books, looking for other places to connect with new animal creations, and creating new animal wordplays such as acrostics, crossword puzzles, and word scrambles.

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Elaine Magliaro said...


I absolutely love the poetry of Barbara Juster Esbensen. I think her book "Echoes for the Eye: Poems to Celebrate Patterns in Nature" is one of the finest poetry books ever written for children. I love her use of imagery and language in that book--and also in her book "Cold Stars and Fireflies." It's so sad that both of these books are now out of print.

You've done a wonderful job with your poetry postings during the month of April!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Elaine, Thanks again for stopping by and for your kind compliment. I've been following your postings of ORIGINAL poems, too-- very fun!

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading Barbara's "Cold Stars and Fireflies." She indeed has a gift and a passion for words. I can imagine her passing that enthusiasm on to her students and readers.

Anonymous said...

What is the title of that dinosaur poem?