Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy birthday, Kenn (My Hippo Has the Hiccups) Nesbitt

Poet Kenn Nesbitt is celebrating his birthday today, as well as the imminent release of what is sure to be a hit, My Hippo Has the Hiccups, a new poetry book-plus-audio-CD produced by Sourcebooks. This Silverstein-Prelutsky-influenced collection of 120 poems caters to kids’ voracious appetites for humorous story poems, with plenty of silly pet poems, fairy tale parodies (another Cinderella poem for my collection!), and funny school poems, many topics with strong kid appeal. Nesbitt relies heavily on formulaic rhyming quatrains that kids will quickly chime in on—especially after listening to the CD performed by Nesbitt himself.

Once again, the audio is one of my favorite components and I’m so glad to see Sourcebooks continue to offer poetry for kids in audio form. Nesbitt is a strong performer of his own works, with a strong, clear delivery and pacing that is just right for the poem and the audience. The pause between tracks is also helpful for listeners and Nesbitt manages to make each track distinctive, using a variety of voicing and sound effects. Even without the text in front of her/him, the young reader can easily follow the poem—and that’s not as easy as it sounds.

There are 39 (out of the 120) poems available on the CD including most of the best of the collection, IMO, like “I Played a Game” which begs for kid pantomime or movement to accompany the audio, “(I’m Always in Parentheses)” which actually gives voice to the ignoble parentheses, and “Pet Shopping” with a lively backdrop of animal noises, to name a few. Kids will surely want to plug the CD in the car and join in—and I think the CD will hold up to repeated listening.

My favorite poems are probably those that diverge from the ever-present rhyming pattern (like the list format of “The Contents of My Desk” below) or incorporate clever wordplay (like “Anna Graham” = anagram) or punctuation-play (like “Hap-the-Happy-Hyphenator”). I hope Nesbitt will venture further into this inventive territory in the future.

The Contents of My Desk
by Kenn Nesbitt

A nail.

A nickel.

A snail.

A pickle.

A twisted-up slinky.

A ring for my pinky.

A blackened banana.

A love note from Hannah.

My doodles of rockets.

The lint from my pockets.

A fork-like utensil.

But sorry…

no pencil.

p. 22

[Wouldn’t it be fun to gather a few of these objects mentioned in the poem and put them in a box, set the box on a table in front of the kids, and then take each object out as you refer to it in reading the poem aloud? Poem props! Or challenge kids to create a comic strip or storyboard, with a drawing for each line of the poem, using each line as a caption or speech bubble.]

My Hippo Has the Hiccups is illustrated with black and white cartoon sketches by artist and animator Ethan Long. They have just the right touch of zany looseness to suit the poems and engage kid readers—and aspiring cartoonists.

Kenn Nesbitt’s web site, Poetry4Kids is one of the most popular and visited sites for kids on poetry, offering a multitude of resources and opportunities for kids to interact. He clearly has a heart for kids and their funny bones. He writes, “I know it always makes me feel good when I read a funny poem or hear a funny song. So, in my own small way, I'm trying to do my part to help people laugh, and just maybe make the world a happier place.” Happy birthday to YOU, Kenn. Thanks for hiccupping hippos!

P.S. Congratulations, Sourcebooks: The 40th NAACP Image Awards were given out last week and Hip Hop Speaks to Children, edited by Nikki Giovanni (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky) won for Outstanding Literary Work—Poetry, the first time that a book for CHILDREN has won in this category. Congrats, Nikki and Sourcebooks! (I blogged about this anthology last Nov. 4. Love that audio, too!)

Join the Poetry Friday crew at the holly and the ivy.

Image credit: Sourebooks

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award + Love

I have exciting news to share—another award announcement, but this time it’s a POETRY award! The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the University Libraries, and the Pennsylvania School Librarians' Association are pleased to announce the winner of the 2009 LEE BENNETT HOPKINS POETRY AWARD as well as the honor award winners.

This year celebrates the l5th Anniversary of the Award...the first of its kind for poetry in the history of children's literature. The Award comes with a $1,000 cash gift from Mr. Hopkins.

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost (Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle (Henry Holt & Company)
Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera (Random House)

Congratulations to each of these wonderful poets! And in honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s another gem from Diamond Willow, a LOVE poem…

Diamond Willow
was one of my favorite books of the year and I wrote about it previously on May 16, and a week later, May 23, I reviewed The Surrender Tree, another favorite. I didn’t get Stitchin’ and Pullin’ til late in the year, thus a sad omission on my part because it's also a wonderful book.]

Join the Poetry Friday crew at Big A Little A-- thank you, Kelly!

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Friday, February 06, 2009

More poetry to come in 2009 + what's a poem?

Just last month I started off the year by posting a list of the brand new poetry books I knew were coming out in 2009 (on Jan. 2). But more publisher’s catalogs are now available, I combed their booths at ALA Midwinter, and I’ve heard from a variety of people since then, so I have list of ANOTHER 25+ titles to share. That’s a combined total of over 50 books of poetry for young people we can anticipate—and it’s only February! In the months to come, I hope to get my hands on each of these and post my thoughts about as many as possible, but in the meantime, here’s the list:

1. Andrews, Julie and Hamilton, Emma Watson. 2009.
Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies. Ill. by James McMullan. New York: Little Brown.
2. Franco, Betsy. 2009.
Curious Collection of Cats. Ill. by Michael Wertz. San Francisco, CA: Tricycle Press.
3. Franco, Betsy. 2009.
Messing Around the Monkey Bars and other School Poems for Two Voices. Ill. by Jessie Hartland. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
4. Frost, Helen. 2009.
Crossing Stones. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
5. George, Kristine O’Connell. 2009.
Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems. Illus. by Nancy Carpenter. New York: Clarion.
6. Harley, Avis. 2009.
African Acrostics; A Word in Edgeways. Ill. by Deborah Noyes. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
7. Harrison, David. 2009.
Vacation, We’re Going to the Ocean! Ill. by Rob Shepperson. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
8. Hughes, Ted. 2009.
My Brother Bert. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
9. Janeczko, Paul. 2009. A Foot in the Mouth; Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout. Ill. by Chris Raschka. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
10. Katz, Bobbi. 2009.
More Pocket Poems. Ill. by Deborah Zemke. New York: Dutton.
11. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009.
The House. Illus. by Roberto Innocenti. Minneapolis, MN: Creative Editions.
12. Maddox, Marjorie. 2009.
Rules of the Game. Ill. by John Sandford. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
13. Mora, Pat. 2009. Dizzy in My Eyes. New York: Knopf.
14. Prelutsky, Jack. 2009.
The Swamps of Sleethe; Poems From Beyond the Solar System. Ill. by Jimmy Pickering. New York: Knopf.
15. Roemer, Heidi. 2009.
Whose Nest is This? NorthWord.
16. Rosen, Michael J. 2009. The Cuckoo’s Haiku and Other Birding Poems. Ill. by Stan Fellows. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
17. Salas, Laura. 2009.
Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School. New York: Clarion.
18. Salinger, Michael. 2009. Well Defined; Vocabulary in Rhyme. Ill. by Sam Henderson. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
19. San Jose, Christine and Johnson, Bill. 2009.
Every Second Something Happens: Poems for the Mind and Senses. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
20. Schertle, Alice. 2009.
Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes. Ill. by Petra Mathers. New York: Harcourt.
21. Schmidt, Amy. 2009.
Loose Leashes. Ill. by Ron Schmidt. New York: Random House.
22. Sidman, Joyce. 2009.
Red Sings From Treetops; A Year in Colors. Ill. by Pamela Zagarenski. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
23. Walker, Rob D. 2009.
Mama Says: A Book of Love For Mothers and Sons. Ill. by Leo and Diane Dillon. New York: Scholastic.
24. Yolen, Jane. 2009. A Mirror to Nature. Ill. by Jason Stemple. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
25. Yolen, Jane. 2009. An Egret’s Day. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
26. Yolen, Jane. 2009. How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? New York: Scholastic.

1. Bryant, Jen. 2009.
Kaleidoscope Eyes. New York: Knopf.
2. Chaltas, Thalia. 2009. Because I Am Furniture. New York: Viking.
3. Herrick, Steven. 2009. Cold Skin. Asheville, NC: Front Street.
4. Myers, Walter Dean. 2009.
Amiri and Odette: A Love Story. Ill. by Javaka Steptoe. New York: Scholastic.

Yolen, Jane. 2009.
My Uncle Emily. Ill. by Nancy Carpenter. New York: Philomel.

We can look forward to more poetry from Jane Yolen, Alice Schertle, Joyce Sidman, Jack Prelutsky, Bobbi Katz, Pat Mora, J. Pat Lewis, Helen Frost, Betsy Franco, and others. Plus newer names and new topics of all kinds. Just getting a look at some ARCs and galleys at the Midwinter conference whetted my appetite! Nature poems, wordplay, school-friendly verse, concrete poetry, verse novels, and more. Stay tuned for closer looks, coming soon…

And just for fun, I’m trying a stanza-by-stanza embedded PowerPoint as a visual way to share a fun poem that Charles Ghigna gifted me on one of my favorite topics: what is poetry? Enjoy!

Join the whole Poetry Friday crew at: Wild Rose Reader hosted by the fabulous Elaine Magliaro.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Speaking of culture, awards, and poetry...

When the big ALA book awards are announced, I like to check them for the inclusion of poetry. Last year, there was a jackpot of poetry. This year—not so much. However, there were some notable standouts. First, the Coretta Scott King award choices were especially exciting this year. Did you notice that nearly all these books were POETRY? I was so tickled about that!

Coretta Scott King Author HONORS (outstanding writing by an African
American author) went to THREE books of poetry:
*Keeping the Night Watch by Hope Anita Smith. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Henry Holt, 2008.
*The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Amistad/HarperCollins, 2008.
*Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Wordsong, 2008.

THE Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award (outstanding illustrations by an African American artist) went to:
*The Blacker the Berry illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Written by Joyce Carol Thomas. Amistad/HarperCollins, 2008.

And one CSK Illustrator Honor distinction went to a book by poet Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Sean Qualls, Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane. Henry Holt, 2008.

The Coretta Scott King John Steptoe/New Talent Award went to:
*Shadra Strickland (illustrator) for Bird by Zetta Elliott. Lee & Low, 2008.

In addition, the Pura Belpré Author Award (cosponsored by REFORMA) (outstanding writing by a Latino author) went to The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle. Henry Holt, 2008, which was also a NEWBERY HONOR BOOK! Did you catch that? Newbery!

ALL of these books (listed above) are also on the list of 2009 Notables selected by ALSC and/or the YALSA list of Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA).

The YALSA list of Quick Picks included these works of poetry:
*High, Linda Oatman. Planet Pregnancy. 2008. Boyds Mills Press.
*Hopkins, Ellen. Identical. 2008. McElderry.
*Neri, G. Chess Rumble. 2007. Lee and Low Books.

What do you notice about this? MULTICULTURAL POETRY is really getting some attention. In fact, some of the best of the best books of any genre, and of poetry in particular, are by poets of color! Very exciting!

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