Thursday, April 21, 2011

Poetry Book Review: "Poetry By Kids"


Nye, Naomi Shihab, and Ashley Bryan. 2000. Salting the ocean: 100 poems by young poets. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN# 978-0688161934.


Salting the Ocean is a collected group of works by children. This book is a great poetry work to introduce to children because it is written by children.

Nye has complied poems from children into four different groups in Salting the Ocean. These include “My Shadow in an Ant’s Night”, “Think How Many Stories Are In Your Shirt”, “My Grandma Squashes Roaches with He Hand” (that one made me cringe!), and “Silence is like a Tractor Moving the Whole World”.

The poetry is very interesting to read through, even for adult audiences. Rarely do people read works from children. Therefore, Salting the Ocean is very informative to read from the perspective of a child. I think children will be able to relate to this book because it also speaks to them. The students participating in Salting the Ocean are all different ages. When reading this book, some of these poems could have been written by a child or young adult.

Many of the poems are powerful because they are very direct with a sense of mystery as well. Children sometimes have a difficult time expressing their feelings with poetry. Once they learn how to do so they instantly like writing original poetry. Salting the Ocean is a great book to show the viewpoints of children.

Poem: “Song of My Foot”
Marci Carlson

I sing about my right foot
I sing about it because
my favorite show goes on that foot.
I sing about my right shoe because
it is old and the shoelace is torn.
I sing about my shoelace because
it is stained with dirt and mud.
I sing about dirt and mud because
it is part of this world.

Introducing the Poem:

“Song of My Foot” has a direct feel to it that many children can relate to. Shoes can break and tear and get dirty. The poet expresses that it is okay and she likes her foot. This poem shows confidence and an understanding of herself in the world. In this example, the poem is very direct at first, and later a hidden meaning appears.

I would introduce this poem to children by first reading it out loud. Secondly, I would ask the class what they thought of this poem and how it makes them fee. Next, I would reveal that the poet of this poem is their age! Once they are surprised that a child’s poem is in a published book they will be intrigued.

Furthermore, I would reread the poem and see what the responses are a second time. Lastly, I would talk to the children what they thought of the poem being written by a child. Once this is complete, I would encourage students to write their own original poetry. This may be difficult for some, but it will teach them how to express themselves.

Salting the Ocean is a great way for children to be introduced to writing original poetry. Many children are not always initially drawn to poetry. Writing poetry is foreign to many children as well. This book is a great way to provide an example that the children can follow in a beneficial way.

Poetry Book Review: "Janeczko Poetry"


Janeczko, Paul B., and Christopher Raschka. 2009. A foot in the mouth: poems to speak, sing, and shout. Somerville, Mass: Candlewick Press. ISBN# 9780763606633.


A Foot in the Mouth is a great poetry book for children to learn about the many sounds of poetry. Many of the poems in this book are great for students to read out loud and enjoy. Janeczko compiles a group of poems that introduces humor and play-on words that children will enjoy.

This book is grouped into different types of performance poetry. These include “Poems for One Voice”, “Tongue Twisters”, “Poems for Two Voices”, “List Poems”, and “Poems for Three Voices”, “Short Poems”, “Bilingual Poems”, “Rhymed Poems”, “Limericks”, and “Group Poems.

A Foot in the Mouth also displays a great array of poets from Georgia Heard to Walt Whitman to William Shakespeare. What is great about this poetry book is that there are so many types of poetry and poets to introduce.

This poetry book is also beneficial because it will invite children to become more vocal. The poetry is exciting and fun for students to learn from. A Foot in the Mouth illustrates poetry with great rhymes and beats that will encourage students to participate.

Poem: “Anna Elise”

Anna Elise, she jumped with surprise;

The surprise was so quick, it played her a trick;

The trick was so rare, she jumped in a chair;

The chair was so frail, she jumped in a pail;

The pail was so wet, she jumped in a net;

The net was so small, she jumped on the ball;

The ball was so round, she jumped on the ground;

And ever since then she’s been turning around.

Introducing the Poem:

“Anna Elise” has a repetitious beat that continues to grow faster as you are reading it. This is a great poem because it has that element of ‘what will happen next?’ that children adore. In addition, it has fun rhymes and repeating words that add to its charm.

I would introduce this poem by first reading it to the class enthusiastically. At the beginning of the poem I would start slowly and read faster until the end of the poem. Once I reach the last line and I read it slowly like the first. This gives a fun nature to the poem.

Next, I would get a volunteer to read the poem. Furthermore, I would see if they would like to read it out loud differently that how I did. Because there is some rhyming in the middle on each line, the poem could be broken up more. Children may want to experiment with different ways of reciting “Anne Elise”. Students might like to recite it like a rap song.

A Foot in the Mouth has many other poems that can be introduced to students. This is a great book to introduce poetry to children because of its exciting factor. The poems are fun and children will be drawn to them.

Poetry Book Review: "Poetry & Fiction"


Frost, Robert, Gary D. Schmidt, and Henri Sorensen. 1994. Robert Frost. New York: Sterling. ISBN# 9780806906331.


Robert Frost is one of the most well recognized poets in the United States. Many young adults are familiar with this particular poet and will be able to identify with his poetry. Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost includes an assortment of poems for each season of the year (summer, autumn, winter, spring). Because of Frost’s simplicity of poetry, young adults will relate and understand the themes he writes about.

Frost uses simple themes to transpire intricate and meaningful themes to his audience. In Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost, the poems describe places and things in nature that most people relate to. What many would find not meaningful, Frost transfers it into a beautiful thing. This book shows the elegance and magnificence in mother earth.

Each poem has a detailed description showing the meanings behind the poems that Frost wrote. This gives the reader a better understanding of the details of each poem.

Ship Breaker is a 2011 Printz Award Winner announced by the American Library Association. This title focuses on a post-apocalyptic future due to a loss of cheap energy. Once these resources have been used, the world has totally changed into an ugly place. Ship Breaker encourages readers to think independently about clean energy and the future of the Earth. This particular book is more appropriate for a high school level reader. The characters in Ship Breaker are gruesome and desperate for survival in this horrible time.

These two works definitely contrast each other. Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost shows the beauty in nature, while Ship Breaker is lacking its natural environment. In a way, these two works complement each other. The environmental themes in Ship Breaker are missing the beauty in Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost.

By reading both texts, young adults will want to appreciate the world more. Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost shows how beautiful nature currently is for us. When we do not appreciate and acknowledge this advantage our future could end up like the future in Ship Breaker.

Poem: “The Pasture”

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may)
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

Introducing the Poem:

The poem “The Pasture” is an introducing poem itself. Basically Frost is introducing the reader to come with him. He shows a part of his life and asks you to participate with him. This poem is very soothing and quiet. It draws the reader in and makes them want to know more.

I would introduce this poem to the class and ask them what they imagined. It would also be important to ask them how it made them feels. Since the poem has a soothing presence, I would talk about the way nature and wildlife is being used with Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost.

Next, I would introduce Ship Breaker. I would have the class read the book and then later go over certain parts of the book that they were moved by. Since this text shows an unfortunate future for our environment, I would talk to the class about how these events transpired. This conversation will bring up topics of preserving our environment.

By introducing “The Pasture” and other poems from Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost, students will be able to identify the appreciation of a healthy environment. Comparing the two books would be a great way to raise discussions and debates about our green efforts as well.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Poetry Book Review: "Sidman Poetry"


Sidman, Joyce. 2010. Dark emperor & other poems of the night. Boston [Mass.]: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN# 9780547152288.


Sidman explains the creatures that come out during the night in this poetry book. Dark Emperor is a great book for children that are able to learn about animals that they usually don’t see. The poems in this book teach children all the nocturnal happenings in the woods. Some of which children might be afraid of.

These topics include raccoons, snails, moths, rats, spiders, porcupines, crickets, mushrooms, bats, and other nightly creatures. In addition to the poems about these topics, Sidman includes a section next to the illustration of each poem detailing information about each creature. This added information gives children even more understanding of the animal or plant.

One of the poetic techniques that Sidman uses is repetition of certain words and lines. She also uses alliteration and consonance with her poetry. Sidman also is creative with the white space of a poem by shaping the words into the figure of an animal.

Dark Emperor beautifully illustrates rather ugly creatures of the night. One of this poetry book’s advantages is that you are able to read poems about such creepy characters in a peaceful way. For instance, “Snail at Moonrise” is described as “gleaming silver-bright”.

Poem: “Bat Wraps Up”

Belly full,
he drops down
from the echoing room of night.
One last swift swoop,
one last bug plucked from air
with cupped tail,
scooped neatly to mouth.

As dark grows thin
and body heavy,
he tumbles to tree
and grasps bark,
folds that swirl of cape
tipped with tiny claws
and snags the spot
that smells like home.

Then...upside flip,
lock-on grip...
stretch, hang, relax.


Introducing the Poem:

I would introduce this poetry book before a science lesson. First, I would read the poem quietly and slowly. Towards the end of the poem, I would read the last stanza a little quicker with a faster rhythm. This gives it a little more sizzle and spark.

After reading the poem, I would ask the children what they thought about bats. This would raised questions about them being nocturnal and sleeping upside down, etc. This is a great segway to a science lesson.

Another great way to introduce this poem is right before a school field trip! In houston, there is a bridge where bats live under. Every few weeks out of the year at dusk thousand of bats fly out all at the same time. It is really neat to see. This would be beneficial to show the children because they the bats are just then waking up for their day.

I would also read to the students the extra side paragraph that explains the basic information of bats from "Bat Wraps Up" in Dark Emperor. By showing the children actual bats, they will better understand their nature. Introducing the poem this way can inspire the children to want to read more poetry. It could also lead them to want to learn more about science.

Poetry Book Review: "Hopkins Award Poetry"


Myers, Walter Dean, and Christopher Myers. 2006. Jazz. New York: Holiday House. ISBN# 0823415457.


This poetry book is well recognized as a vibrant and enthusiastic peice of work. Myers uses poetry techniques such as rhythm, structure, and diction to create Jazz. The illustrations also add to create an exciting poetry book.

When reading a poem from Jazz, the reader instantly recognizes the rythym that has been strategically set in place. The words in the poetry act similar to muscial instruments. This poetry book would be a great way to introducte performance poetry to students.

Myers also uses poem structure to show different levels of his poetry. This helps break up the lines to better fit a song-like feel. In some poems, Myers repeats a stanza much like a chorus would within a song. The structure of the poetry also includes several kinds of font type. This includes different colors, fonts, and sizes. By breaking up the poems in this way Myers gives the poetry more spark and students will want to recite Jazz.

The illustrations in this book are done by Christopher Myers. He uses vivid illustration that help tell the story of these song-like poems. One technique that he uses is incorporating the images into the white space of the poem. He also uses instruments from the poetry rythym that entice the reader.

With these great poetry techniques, Jazz is beneficial for students learning about performace poetry. This book would be great to include students in different ways of reciting the poems.

Poem: "Strive"

We got jiving in our bones, and it won't leave us alone - we're really moving
jiving bones
We got pride in our stride, and we know it's all the style - we're steady grooving
pride stride
This piano's hard and driving, and the tones are getting to me - hear them talking
driving tones
There's a glide to the ride, and the feeling's coming through to me - the bass is walking
glide ride
I head singong in my heart, yes, it's art, no use in stalling
singing heart
I got jump in my feet, and I'm turning up heat, left hand hauling
jump feet
I'm out here swinging from the start, can't get no higher
swinging start
We got bump in the best where the crazy rythyms meet. This band's on fire!

Introducing the Poem:

This poem incorporates different types of lines and font style. Myers uses strong words to create an interesting feel to the poem. Every other line shows similar structure as well. Because of this, "Strive" would be a great poem to present to students.

I would introduce this poem to the students during a music lesson. This poetry uses many rythym techniques and references to songs. I would first read the poem to the class and show them the illustration. Next, I would give the students a copy of the poem and teach them how to recite the words that are italicized in the poem.

Once the students understand the lesson I would recite the main portion of the poem and have them recite back their portion. The children will respond positively to the performace piece and it will get them excited for their music lesson. This would be a great segway inbetween lessons.

By introducing the poem before a music lesson, children will create a link between music and poetry. This is beneficial for children to understand because it will help them to enjoy poetry more in the future. It will also help with their understanding of lyrics and songs.

Poetry Book Review: "Performance Poetry"


Franco, Betsy, and Jessie Hartland. 2009. Messing around on the monkey bard and other school poems for two voices. Somerville, Mass: Candlewick Press. ISBN# 9780763631741.


This performance poetry book allows students to recite back and forth the poetry with each other. Messing Around on the Monkey Bars playfully assess the different areas that children experience while at school. Franco has used each poem to demonstrate a particular area of school that children can relate to.

These areas include the school bus, new students, school supplies, assignments, the library, classes, the playground, recess, lunchtime, teachers and more school themes. By having these easily relatable school topics, children will be able to recite them easier.

Messing Around the Monkey Bars also demonstrates how the children can both read from the poetry page. This is helpful is children want to later read a book together.

One of the topics involves an assignment and the student is trying to think of what to write about. With all the different ideas mentioned in the poem, a child's imagination will grow.

The entire performance poetry book is exciting, fun and full of great vivid illustrations. Children will have fun reciting the poems in Messing Around on the Monkey Bars. When children are having fun while learning, it helps to get them to learn in the future.


Snort, squeal,
snort, squeal.
We're gobbled up
by a beast with wheels.

Grumble, growl,
grumble, growl.
The beast shoots smoke.
It moans and howls.

Jumble, rumble,
jumble, rumble.
Its big old belly
groans and grumbles.

Screech, cough,
screech, cough.
It opens its mouth--
we scramble off.

Snort, squeal,
growl, grumble.
The beast is gone
with a rumble, rumble.

Introducing the Poem:

I would have two children recite this poem. First, I would read the poem to the class and show them the illustrations. Next, I would see if there are two students that would like to recite the poem to the class. Once the children have decided, I would show them which areas to read.

Next, the children should be ready to read the poem out loud to the other children. I would gather the students around so that they can hear the poem. Once the children have finished the poem, I would see if there are any other volunteers that would like to participate.

If the children wish to read a different poem, there are many to choose from in this great performance poetry book. Using this technique with the students creates a learning atmosphere. The ones reciting the poetry have a better understanding of how to read and speak in front of others.

This exercise will be beneficial to all students because it teachers them another way to appreciate poetry.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Poetry Book Review: "Biographical Poetry"


Hemphill, Stephanie. 2007. Your own, Sylvia: a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN#: 9780375837999.


This poetry book details the events of Sylvia Plath's life in the viewpoint of those who knew her best. Stephanie Hemphill comprises these viewpoints and creates poems that illustrate Plath's life. The poems expressed in this book show the events that took place from Plath's birth to her death.

Hemphill uses the technique of viewpoints to illustrate how Plath was viewed. In Your Own, Sylvia the points of view are from Otto Plath (father), Aurelia Plath (mother), Warren Plath (brother), Ted Hughes (husband), and many neighbors, classmates, doctors, nurses, and acquaintances.

By using these different viewpoints, the reader gains a great understanding of how Plath was viewed in her lifetime. The author writes in the style of Plath to show an authenticity. Hemphill researchers thorugh letters, journals and biographies to do so. In addition, Hemphill uses historical information that she learned from those who knew Plath. She uses this information within the poetry to give it more truth.

Another benefit to Your Own, Sylvia are the added annecdotes and information below each poem. These paragraphs show historical information about the poems written. Having this added information helps the reader to understand more about Sylvia Plath's life.

Poem: "Winter's End"

Imagining Sylvia Plath
In the style of "Edge"
February 11, 1963

She is determined, ready as a knife,
Her letters sealed.

The hall light smiles, a halo calling her
To flame. She wings into the kitchen,

Spreads mustard on their crustless bread,
Pours two pure white glasses of milk.

She kisses the children's foreheads,
Folds over their sheets.

The streetlamp clicks off.
She opens the window to dawn,

Wedges a towel under the children's door.
Righteous, happy as a rose,

She knows her place in the garden.
Her black petals curl underground.

She tidies her desk, leaves her manuscript,
Ariel and Other Poems, to the moon,

To the world of bone. The sun breaks
Like yolk. It is time.

She unlatches the over door. The gas
Fills her nostrils, sweet as blood, pungent as a sword.

Introducing the Poem:

This poem is a rendition of Sylvia Plath's "Edge". "Winter's End" is very similar to the last (rumored) poem that Plath wrote before ending her own life. The above poem shows the motions that she took in the last hours of her life.

This book is more suitable for young adults. I would introduce this poem to the class after showing "Edge" by Sylvia Plath. Next, I would open the classroom up for discussion about the two poems to talk about similarities and differences.

I would follow up with the students picking a particular poet that they are interested in and pick a specific poem. Finally, the students would be assigned a task to produce their version of the poem in the way they would view the particular theme. This follows a similar path that Hemphill took.

By introducing the poem in this way, students will be able to see how the poem can change with a different perspective. They will also be able to relate to a particular poet. This biographical poetry book is beneficial for students to read because it opens them up to the life of poets.