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Monday, April 16, 2012

Big Bites of Savory Verse

As I've mentioned in previous posts, April is National Poetry Month.  To celebrate, I headed to the library and checked out a big stack of books written in verse.  I've been reading them each day, some to myself and others to my six-year-old, Ben.  I wanted to share the ones we've enjoyed the most:

Give Yourself to the Rain: Poems for the Very Young, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Teri L. Weidner, 2002... This book includes 24 of Brown's poems for children, many of them nature-related, paired with Weidner's vibrant, wistful artwork.

Ben and I both liked reading this poetry aloud at bedtime.  I was familiar with a few of the poems already, but most of them were new to both of us.

Doodle Dandies: Poems That Take Shape, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Lisa Desimini, 1998... A collection of 19 concrete poems on a variety of subjects, this book is a good way to introduce poetry to kids.

Ben and I loved looking at these lively poems and reading them together.  This book was Ben's first experience with concrete poetry -- he thought the way words could be used to form pictures was "very cool".

Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word, written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Nancy Doniger, 2011...  The clever poems in this volume are "part anagram, part rebus, part riddle" -- and all fun! Using only the letters from a single word, Raczka creates a poem about that word.  For example, here is one of his verses:





I've read and reread this book several times since checking it out.  I find this type of poetry fascinating!  I haven't done it yet, but I'm planning to try writing one of these poems myself sometime soon.

Every Thing On It, written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein, 2011 (published posthumously)... With over 130 new poems, this book is filled with Silverstein's unique perspective and wit.

As a huge Silverstein fan, I was thrilled to learn that this book was coming out.  Once I finally got my hands on it, I was not a bit disappointed.  I read several of the poems to Ben, and he got as big a kick out of them as I did!

Don't Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies (also published under the title Uncle Shelby's Zoo), written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein, 1964...  This was Silverstein's very first poetry collection, and also the only one to contain full-color artwork.  Each of the 45 poems inside describes a different imaginary creature from the zany mind of the author.

Ben and I loved reading the silly rhymes in this book.  (Ben even memorized a few lines and recites them on his own!)

Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme, with poems selected by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Meilo So, 2009... Each two-page spread of this book provides three poems (from different authors), all revolving around a similar theme, along with some of Prelutsky's "poemstarts", ideas to help children write their own poetry.

Not only did I appreciate the poems Prelutsky selected (most of which I was familiar with beforehand) and So's colorful illustrations, but I also found the poemstarts interesting and useful.

A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems, selected by Paul Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka, 2001... Janeczko has compiled 30 concrete poems from various authors in this special feast for the eyes.

This is an enchanting book, from the poetry to Raschka's whimsical illustrations.  Ben and I both pored through the pages more than once, savoring it.

A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout, selected by Paul Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka, 2009...  In this volume, Janeczko has collected 36 lively poems, just right for reading aloud.  Featuring poems from William Shakespeare,  Lewis Carroll, Walt Whitman, and many others, with more of Raschka's bright playful illustrations, this makes a great companion to A Poke in the I.  (It certainly can be enjoyed on its own, as well.)  

Janeczko and Raschka have published one other poetry collection together, A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms (2009).  I haven't read it yet, but considering how much I've liked the other two, I am anxious to see it, and plan to look for it at the library next time I'm there!

Naked Bunyip Dancing, written by Steven Herrick and illustrated by Beth Norling, 2008...  This funny book describes a year in an Australian classroom -- featuring the antics of the students in Class 6C and their hippie-like teacher, Mr. Carey.

I spotted this book on a library shelf and HAD to pick it up, simply because of its unusual title!  (My husband's family used to have a bull terrier named Bunyip.)  I was delighted to find out that it was written in free verse, especially once I started reading it and found out how entertaining it was.  I laughed out loud many times, and really enjoyed how true-to-life Herrick made his pre-teen characters.

Inside Out & Back Again, written by Thanhha Lai, 2011... Based on Lai's personal experiences, this book (written in free verse) tells the story of ten-year-old Ha, a Vietnamese girl during the Vietnam War.  Ha's father has been missing in action for nine years, and now she and the rest of her family must flee their country.  They travel by boat to Guam, and then to Florida.  At last, they settle in Alabama where Ha struggles with a new language, a new culture, and the realization that her father is truly gone.

I found this to be a beautifully written, powerful, and poignant book.  I highly recommend this one!

Have you read any of the volumes above?  What did you think of them?  What are your favorite volumes of poetry?  I'm always looking for new titles to put on my "to read" list!

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