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Saturday, April 27, 2013

All the Way to Heart: Books of Poetry for Children

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

I think the following poem sums up the wish of poets everywhere in just six short lines:


For someone to read a poem
again, and again, and then,

having lifted it from page
to brain -- the easy part--

cradle it on the longer trek
from brain all the way to heart.

~ Linda Sue Park,
Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems)

Over the years, many poems have traveled that journey from the page to my brain and then to my heart.  My heart always has room to welcome a new poem, however!  Below are some of the books of poetry that I've enjoyed recently and wanted to share with you.

First, a book for young children:

Here's a Little Poem:
A Very First Book of Poetry,
collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters
and illustrated by Polly Dunbar, 2007

This book was intended for the youngest of audiences, for parents or other adults to read aloud to toddlers and preschoolers.  However, I believe poetry lovers of all ages will love it.  Here I am, a middle-aged adult, and this was probably my favorite book in this entire post!

Filled with the work of fifty different poets -- including Aileen Fisher, Marilyn Singer, A. A. Milne, and Lee Bennett Hopkins -- this book is a treasury of familiar poems and ones I'd never read before.  Delightful illustrations by Dunbar complement each poem.  This book would make a great gift for little ones or for early education teachers.  (I might just have to buy one for me!)


The rest of these are geared more toward children in elementary school:

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices,
written by Paul Fleischman
and illustrated by Eric Beddows, 1988

In this volume, Fleischman shares fourteen poems meant to be spoken aloud by two readers at once, like a musical duet. The book has an insect theme; poem titles include MayfliesThe Moth's Serenade, and Chrysalis Diary.  Each poem is illustrated in black and white by Beddows.


The Oxford Illustrated Book of
American Children's Poems,
edited by Donald Hall
with illustrations by many, 1999

This anthology contains over seventy poems from American poets including Emily Dickinson, Shel Silverstein, Janet S. Wong, and T. S. Eliot.  Many of the illustrations are "archival selections from rare and early editions and pictures from now defunct 19th- and early 20th-century children's magazines."


When the Moon is Full: A Lunar Year
written by Penny Pollock
and illustrated by Mary Azarian, 2001

This book holds twelve poems from Pollock, one for each month of the year.  Traditional Native American names for the moon are used as the poem titles.  For example, in the poem shown above, April is "The Frog Moon".  Pollock provides a short explanation for each name of the moon and also answers several questions about the moon in a separate section.  Beautiful woodcut illustrations from Azarian accompany every page.


More Spice Than Sugar:
Poems About Feisty Females,
compiled by Lillian Morrison
and illustrated by Ann Boyajian, 2001

Forty-five poems about "feisty" girls and women (rebels, pioneers, athletes, heroines) make up this collection.  Some of the poems are funny while others are thought-provoking. Various poets are featured, including X. J. Kennedy, Nikki Giovanni, and J. Patrick Lewis. Boyajian illustrates each poem with a black and white drawing.  A section of notes provides background information for the different poems.


Words with Wings:
A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art,
selected by Belinda Rochelle
with artwork by many, 2001

This powerful anthology pairs twenty poems with twenty works of art, all created by acclaimed African-Americans. Poets include Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou; some of the artists featured are Horace Pippin, William H. Johnson, and Elizabeth Catlett.


Big, Bad and a Little Bit Scary:
Poems That Bite Back,
illustrated by Wade Zahares, 2001

Celebrating the "villains" of the animal kingdom, this book contains fifteen works written by various poets.  Selections include Alligator by Maxine W. Kumin, The Panther by Ogden Nash, and Octopus by Valerie Worth.  Zahares's bold artwork complements each poem.


I Invited a Dragon to Dinner
and Other Poems to Make You Laugh Out Loud,
illustrated by Chris L. Demarest, 2002

This collection is made up of twenty-nine silly poems from many poets, including Dave Crawley, B. H. Fields, Andrea Perry, and Penny Trzynka.  Demarest comically illustrates each poem with a cartoon-like picture.


Pocket Poems
selected by Bobbi Katz
and illustrated by Marylin Hafner, 2004

With colorful illustrations by Hafner and short "pocket-sized poems" from assorted poets including Eve Merriam, Karla Kuskin, Carl Sandburg, and Bobbi Katz herself, this is a fun anthology for younger readers. 


Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sigo (Poems)
written by Linda Sue Park 
and illustrated by Istvan Banyai, 2007

A big fan of Park's middle grade novels, I was eager to check out her poetry.  I was not disappointed!  Park begins her book with an explanation of sijo, a Korean verse form with a fixed number of stressed syllables and a humorous or ironic twist at the end.  She then shares dozens of her poems, written about everyday life but sure to bring a smile to the reader's face.  Banyai enhances the poetry with amusing, playful illustrations.  This book was another of my favorites in this post.


Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors,
written by Joyce Sidman
and illustrated by Beckie Prange, 2010

I'll admit, I grabbed this book off of the library shelf because of its title, "ubiquitous" being a favorite word of mine.  (See this previous post I wrote about the word.)  Then I flipped through the pages and knew I wanted to bring it home, for myself and my 8th grader, Nick.

In this book, Sidman shares fourteen poems (in various forms -- concrete poems, rhyming couplets, and a diamante, among others) about successful species on our planet while Prange provides vibrant illustrations of each.  Poem titles include The Mollusk That Made You, Grass, and Tail Tale. Accompanying each poem is a paragraph of interesting information about the poem's subject.  I had a feeling that Nick would like the nonfiction aspect of the book, as well as the nature poetry.  I was right!


Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night,
written by Joyce Sidman
and illustrated by Rick Allen, 2010

Right after finding Ubiquitous at the library, I spotted Dark Emperor.  I had seen the book recommended on another blog, and had read (and enjoyed) the poem it's named after.  I put it in my stack to check out, and didn't realize until I got home that both of the books were written by the same poet.  (The two volumes sitting next to each other on the shelf should've been my first clue.)

In this book, Sidman offers a dozen poems about the night and the creatures that inhabit it.  Poems include Welcome to the Night, I Am a Baby Porcupette, and Cricket Speaks.  As in her other book, Sidman provides compelling facts about these nocturnal creatures alongside every poem.  Each page also features a lovely, detailed print by Allen.


Have you been reading poems for National Poetry Month? I'd love to hear about your favorite poems, poets, and/or books of poetry....

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