Monday, October 23, 2006


Look what Grace whipped up for me the other day—my very own logo to use when I write book reviews. I LOVE it! So does my daughter. Abby and Suzie, my cats, have not expressed an opinion yet. They’re impatiently awaiting their breakfast.

And I was too impatient to wait until the end of the week to see how my logo looked when it was posted. So I decided to write some reviews of children’s poetry books for today. I know, I know. It’s NOT Poetry Friday. I don’t care…because I believe that…


So…go out and start reading children’s poetry books. NOW! I mean it!

Here are the titles of some children’s poetry books I suggest for your reading pleasure. All of the following books were published in 2006.

Written by Bobbi Katz
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Published by Harcourt

In this book, poetry and art meld nicely to take us through the year. This collection includes twelve poems—one for each month. Pham’s bright, colorful illustrations with changing perspectives really complement and enhance Katz’s seasonal text. Pham portrays city kids of different races sledding in January at the park, picking daffodils in May, catching fireflies in July, and trick-or-treating in October. This is definitely a poetry book elementary teachers would love to have as a classroom resource. I believe most of the poems were written especially for this collection—except for September, which was included in SUNFLAKES: POEMS FOR CHILDREN, an anthology that was published by Clarion in 1992. I used to share that poem with my students on the first day of school.

From September

September is
when yellow pencils
in brand-new eraser hats
bravely wait on perfect points—
ready to march across miles of lines
in empty notebooks—

From May

May is
when the sky unties
a secret song bag
early every morning,

and birds fly out—

Isn't that a lovely way to begin a poem about May?

Suggestion: The poems in this book are great for sharing with students at the beginning of each month and would serve as fine models for a poetry writing activity. A teacher could brainstorm with her students about the different weather, sights, smells, activities, foods, and holidays they associate with a particular month. Then the teacher could lead the children in writing a collaborative class poem. The class poem could be printed on large chart paper or poster board and displayed all month long.

Written and illustrated by Douglas Florian
Published by Greenwillow Books

HANDSPRINGS completes Florian’s series of four poetry books about the seasons. First came WINTER EYES in 1999—then came SUMMERSAULTS in 2002 and AUTUMNBLINGS in 2003. The poems here follow in the same vein as those in the previous titles. They are sprightly, light-hearted rhyming verses with plenty of playful language. This book will not disappoint Florian fans. If you liked the first three collections about winter, summer, and fall, you’re sure to enjoy HANDSPRINGS.

From Mud Flood

The spring rains came
And made a flood
So now there’s mud
and mud
and mud.

From May

In May you may run.
In May you may hike.
In May you may skateboard
Or ride on a bike.

Suggestion: See the suggested activity for ONCE AROUND THE SUN. It would be perfect for HANDSPRINGS—just substitute the season of spring for a month of the year.

Written by Julie Larios
Illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Published by Harcourt

This is a collection of poems about colorful animals—from a red donkey and a green frog to a turquoise lizard and a gold finch. Some of the short poems are rich with imagery, some rhyme and are of a lighter nature. Artist Julie Paschkis has created vibrant, striking gouache illustrations for this book that truly stand out. (I would LOVE to own an original!) This is one of the finest pairings of poetry and art that I have seen in an illustrated poetry book for children. YELLOW ELEPHANT is a recipient of a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Award. I think this is one of the most beautifully illustrated children's books of the year.

From Gold Finch

Clinging to a prickly thistle,
the gold finch flutters, whistles,
then flies away.

From Gray Goose

Gray mama goose
in a tizzy,
honk-honk-honking herself all dizzy…

Suggestion: A classroom teacher and/or an art teacher could use the poems and illustrations in this book as a springboard for a cross-curricular poetry writing/art activity. Kids could write original poems about different colored animals and then draw or paint pictures to illustrate their poems.

Mrs. Magliaro’s Poetry Page
When I worked as an elementary school librarian from 2001 to 2004, I spent endless hours developing a library website that teachers, students, and parents could use as a resource. Mrs. Magliaro’s Poetry Page was one of the pages on my site. It has not been updated in over two years. Still, I think you may find it’s worth a visit. There are lists of suggested poetry books to use across the curriculum, a list of poetry resources for teachers, and a list of children’s poets that includes the names of recipients of the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. (Try to say the name of that award one time fast!) You will also find poems written by children I taught in a second grade classroom and by students I taught in my library classes.

Go nominate your favorite children’s poetry book for a Cybil Award today!


1 comment:

Grace Lin said...

oh I can't wait to see Handsprings, I loved Douglas Florian's other books (especially winter eyes). And I LOVE Yellow Elephant, those illustrations are gorgeous.