Tag: poetry

Guess Who, Haiku by Deanna Caswell

Guess Who Haiku by Deanna Caswell

Guess Who, Haiku by Deanna Caswell, illustrated by Bob Shea (InfoSoup)

Haiku poetry is turned into a guessing game in this delightful picture book. One animal after another is described in haiku format and then the reader is asked to guess what animal it is. The answer is revealed with a turn of the page. This simple idea is engaging for youngsters learning about poetry and also works as a more basic picture book for younger listeners. It is that ease of use that makes this book so engaging for various age levels.

Caswell’s haiku are exceptional in the way they offer clues that children can understand and yet conform to the strict haiku format rules. They also read as haiku and real poems, each one working as a stand-alone haiku as well as a clue in the game of the book. This takes real skill, particularly since it looks so very effortless on the page.

Shea’s illustrations are loud, dynamic and funny. From the almost round bumblebee and the grinning flower to the googly-eyed frog , they are simple and also capture the essence of the animal they are depicting. They are filled with energy and life, making the book all the more fun.

This is the ideal book to introduce children to haiku since it makes the experience completely engaging and game-like. Appropriate for ages 3-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.

 

 

Wet Cement by Bob Raczka

Wet Cement by Bob Raczka

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka (InfoSoup)

This is a second book of playful and wonderful poems that follows Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word. It offers poems that demonstrate over and over again the delight and fun of concrete poetry. Some poems twist and turn, others light up the sky, others read in a different and surprising order, almost forming a puzzle before the reader realizes how to read it. There are poems that zigzag, others that arc, and still others that hang from the top of the page. This is a radiant book of poetry should to create smiles.

Raczka makes concrete poetry look effortless in this book, yet his are so well done that you know they took serious craft to create. I particularly enjoyed the icicle poem, since I haven’t seen one like that. Even more importantly, the words themselves are masterfully done, each poem reading as a true poem and not losing its zing because of the limits of the form.

Brilliant and great fun, this book makes poetry approachable for young children. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brooks Press.

Echo Echo by Marilyn Singer

Echo Echo by Marilyn Singer

Echo Echo by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse  (InfoSoup)

Singer returns with another collection of her amazing reverso poems this time focusing on Greek mythology. The format which has poems which read one way read forward and another way read in reverse, looks at myths from two divergent points of view. This is particularly effective with Greek myths because they so often have two points of view embedded in them. The poems focus on myths such as Pandora’s box, King Midas, Medusa, Icarus and Narcissus. Though brief, these poems capture the essence of each myth, exposing their complexity in a few choice words and phrases.

Singer has done it again. Her amazing reverso poems must be read with care by young readers who have to pay close attention to punctuation to see the difference in meanings between the two poems. The poems are dazzling as they lay open the themes of each myth, the drama being played out in the story and the differing points of view of the main characters. This is one intelligent display of word play that is incredibly difficult to even imagine doing.

Masse’s illustrations each play upon the theme of different sides or points of view. With visual lines down the middle, the two sides both work together as a whole and show the differences between the two poems. The illustrations echo the poems closely, offering a visual feast in addition to the richness of the words.

Another winner for Singer and her reverso poetry, classrooms teaching mythology will love to have this book on hand for accessible and bite-sized looks at many myths. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer (InfoSoup)

When Daniel discovers that there will be Poetry in the Park on Sunday, he begins to wonder what poetry is. The friends he has made in nature help him start to understand it. Spider says that poetry is “morning dew when it glistens.” For Squirrel, it is “when crisp leaves crunch.” Frog sees it as “a cool pool to dive into.” Owl has many ideas about stars, moonlight and her own silent wings. As Daniel listens to all of the creatures, he realizes that he has created a poem, one that lets him see poetry everywhere just as they do.

Archer’s look at poetry is delightful. She shows poetry connected to each creature’s life, each animal having its own unique way of viewing the world and then turning it into something poetic and special. Young readers will understand poetry just as Daniel does, piece by piece, symbol by symbol in an organic and natural way. While Daniel’s poetry at the end is lovely, I really enjoyed that the book had one final moment where Daniel finds his own personal piece of poetry.

Archer’s illustrations are exceptional. Using a layered technique that involves paint, hand-made block prints, and collage, the illustrations are rich and detailed. They have deep colors that sing on the page and a complexity in texture that is particularly pleasing.

A lush and striking book about poetry and its power in everyone’s life. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from ARC received from Nancy Paulsen Books.

Review: Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle

Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle (InfoSoup)

Released August 4, 2015.

In this verse memoir, Engle tells the story of her childhood during the Cold War. With half of her family coming from Cuba and a grandmother who still lived there, Engle had a strong connection to Cuba. It was there that as a child she found herself, connected to the island culture and lifestyle, ran wild in nature, and discovered a quieter life. It contrasted with her life in Los Angeles, filled with bustle and crowded with people. Through both of these distinct worlds, she has a constant, her love of books and words. As the Bay of Pigs escalates, Engle fears for her island family and has to deal with the increased hatred of Cuba and Cubans in America. Cut off from family with the Cuban embargo, Engle can do little to help and again turns to her words to express herself.

Engle is one of the best verse novelists working today. While all of her previous books are splendid, this one is personal in a new way, one that offers up her heart. She shows her love of Cuba so vividly and so profoundly that her connection there runs through the entire novel. At the same time, she also shares the loneliness of a girl who likes books and words and who struggles to make friends at times. Add to that the political turmoil that has continued for decades and you have a book that could have been a tragedy but instead rises beyond that and straight into hope.

As always, Engle’s verse is exceptional. She captures emotions with a clarity in her verse that makes it immensely compelling to read. There are poems that show a pig being slaughtered on the farm in Cuba that makes it sound both brutal and delicious, the perfect mix of tempting and revolting. There are poems that capture the night sounds of Cuba and the longing for a horse of her own. They show the beauty of milking cows, the strength of a hard-working hand, the joy of connecting with a horse as you ride it. It all melts together into a picture of Cuba that is both personal and universal.

Give this to children who loved Brown Girl Dreaming for another verse memoir that is sure to inspire young readers to see the world in a more diverse and brilliant way. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss.

Review: Changes by Charlotte Zolotow

Changes by Charlotte Zolotow

Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke (InfoSoup)

Celebrate the changing of the seasons with this collection of poetry from master children’s poet, Charlotte Zolotow. The 28 poems move from the joy of the change from one season to the next and then start with a focus on spring. The poems speak of the joy of spring breezes, snow melting, rainfall, violets, and green grass. Summer poems shine with sun, seaside sand, lights at night, and the buzz of insects. Autumn comes next with the joy of fallen leaves, classrooms, firelight, and Halloween. The book finishes with winter and its snow and ice that dazzle in their own way.

The poems here create a whole, a deep look not only at the seasons but also in the power of connecting with nature throughout the year. Zolotow’s mastery shows in each one, her ability to look closely at a small thing, find the immense beauty in it, speak to that and then create a universal experience in words on the page. Everyone will respond to these poems, as they capture those moments in time where we can all connect with nature and with one another.

The illustrations frame each poem, and capture the natural hues of each season. Spring is filled with the brightness of the flowers and grass. Summer is yellow and bright with the sun. Autumn turns golden and orange while winter is blues and whites. There are just enough details to invite readers into the poems and allow the words to really be the focus of the book.

A gorgeous addition to children’s poetry collections, this is one to get into teacher’s hands so they can start using it immediately. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Beastly Verse by JooHee Yoon

Beastly Verse by Joohee Yoon

Beastly Verse by JooHee Yoon (InfoSoup)

Children are introduced to a collection of poetry from well-known poets as well as anonymous and lesser known ones in this picture book. Each poem focuses on an animal and the collection includes William Blake’s The Tiger among others. The animals are varied and make for page turning that is exciting and interesting, since you never know if the next animal will be a pig or a hummingbird. The poems are cleverly selected for child appeal and yet many of them aren’t specifically children’s poetry, allowing children to stretch a bit and learn more about poetry and their own reactions to it.

Yoon has selected primarily European and western poets in this book. I do long for more diverse poets and poetry to be included and yet one can’t fault the high quality of the selections here and the astute awareness of children and what they are interested in and drawn to. The result is a clever book that children will enjoy and learn from.

The illustrations here are the star and what will have children and adults alike picking up the volume. The colors are beyond bright, zinging on the page and creating worlds. There are jungle scenes that drip with deep greens and echo with lushness. There are domestic scenes that have a zany energy to them that is echoed in the poetry too. Yoon is skillful and playful in her art, creating a unique look and feel in this poetry book that is sure to appeal.

A dynamic look will get readers opening the book where they will discover plenty of poetry to love. Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.