Friday, November 17, 2006


On October 27th, I posted a review of BUSY IN THE GARDEN, a delightful collection of poems about sowing seeds, growing and harvesting plants, and other activities that take place in a garden or yard. It’s a book perfect for use with preschoolers and kindergarteners. Today I am reviewing another “garden variety” collection of poetry that is written for children in the primary grades.

Written by Juanita Havill
Illustrated by Christine Davenier
Published by Chronicle Books

By golly, I hate to repeat myself…but I HEARD IT FROM ALICE ZUCCHINI is another delightful collection of poems about seeds sprouting and plants growing—and all manner of garden gossip. Yep, even the seeds and plants do some talking in this collection that includes the mask poem What I Like About July in which corn tells readers what’s so special about that summer month from its perspective.

From What I Like About July:

Breezes combing the wavy tassels
of my hair,
the sparkle of my long green leaves
in the heat of the sun at noon…

But what I like most
about July
is growing
and how everyone looks up to me.

In When I Grow Up, seeds express their dreams for the future.

From When I Grow Up:

In the still chill of a winter night
Seeds on the gardener’s bench
Rattle their packets
With chattering.

“When I grow up,
I’m going to be…”

“The biggest watermelon.”
“Greenest spinach.”
“Toughest kale.”
“A rutabaga round as the world.”…

There’s Snap Beans, a poem of address, in which the writer speaks to the little green growers.

From Snap Beans:

Snap your fingers, jazzy beans,
tap your toes,
click your heals,
strut your stuff in tight green jeans…

I HEARD IT FROM ALICE ZUCCHINI is a collection with a good variety of poetry. There are poems that rhyme—as well as those that do not rhyme. There are longer narrative poems and shorter pieces. Carrots is written in a question and answer format; Pea Pod Chant is a bouncy, rhyming chant that would be great for choral reading or speaking. And there are many poems in this book that contain a touch of homespun humor. I would add that not all the poems in this collection are of equal excellence. Still, this book has plenty to offer to those of us who like to plant the seeds of poetry with children in their early years and watch how they grow to enjoy and appreciate the genre. Sow…I do not hesitate to recommend this book.

Note: I HEARD IT FROM ALICE ZUCCHINI has been nominated for a Cybil Award. Visit the Cybil Award site to nominate your favorite children's books published in 2006.

Another Poetry Friday Wish

I would like to see THE EARTH IS PAINTED GREEN: A GARDEN OF POEMS ABOUT OUR PLANET back in print. This is a themed anthology of children’s poems edited by Barbara Brenner, illustrated by S. D. Schindler, and published by Scholastic (1994). It is a substantial anthology that contains ninety-one poems, many of which were written by some of America’s most esteemed children’s poets: David McCord, Lilian Moore, Eve Merriam, Mary Ann Hoberman, John Ciardi, Aileen Fisher, Myra Cohn Livingston, and Valerie Worth. It also includes the works of Eleanor Farjeon, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Christina Rossetti, Ted Hughes, Carl Sandburg, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Charlotte Zolotow, Theodore Roethke, Basho, Jack Prelutsky, and Shel Silverstein. The index of authors reads like a Who's Who of poets.

For inclusion in this book, Brenner selected a wide variety of fine poems about nature’s greenery—from the first green of spring to tree green to growing green to harvest green to the last green of the year. Many of Schindler’s illustrations, finely rendered in watercolors, are realistic representations of leaves, flowers, weeds, frogs, birds, and butterflies. To complement the lighter verses, Schindler employs a more cartoon-like style. This book is an excellent combination of poetry and art. It makes a wonderful classroom resource that can be used throughout the school year.


osblake said...
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osblake said...
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osblake said...

I've started a link exchange blog to encourage communication between people who write poetry online. Would you like to be a part of it?

Email me at: or post a comment confirming your entry on my personal site:

Hope to hear from you
O. S. Blake

Gardening with Juanita said...

I like you poems. I love gardening watched my Mother plant her vegges and flowers. I am retired so I can walk trough my flower garden daily. I write a blog my two daughters got me interested. One set it up for me. My blog is I like the idea of some one in South Africa looking at the photos of my garden.