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.

Poetry Book Review: "Social Studies Poetry"


Volavková, Hana. 1993. I never saw another butterfly: children's drawings and poems from Terezín Concentration Camp, 1942-1944. New York: Schocken Books. ISBN#: 0805241159.


This poetry book examines the horrific past of the concentration camp of Terezin from 1942 - 1944. I Never Saw Another Butterfly is a true work of art because it preserves the history of children with the concentration camp with poetry and drawings.

Many of the poems are about the hopes and fears of the children there. They wonder when they will get to return to their homes. The pictures show the past as they remember it, as well as, what they see happening at the camps. Their poetry examines the deaths that they witness and the abuse upon them. I Never Saw Another Butterfly is an award winning book that many will be influenced by.

This social studies poetry book is a great historical tool to teach children about the past, in a perspective that they can understand. Before the poetry begins there is a brief historical sections describing the conditions of the children within the book. This poetry book is not suitable for all ages of children. I would only introduce this book to young adults.

Many of the poems are anonymous because the children never signed their names. The poetry in this book is of high quality, not for literary reasons, but for the experience of these children. There is a raw emotion that is apparent in the pictures and words.

Poem: "I Am a Jew" by Franta Bass

I am a Jew and will be a Jew forever.
Even if I should die from hunger,
never will I submit.
I will always fight for my people,
on my honor.
I will never be ashamed of them,
I give my word.

I am proud of my people,
how dignified they are.
Even though I am suppressed,
I will always come back to life.

Introducing the Poem:

This poem promotes so many topics with social studies and poetry. It shows history, experience, power through words, life lessons, culture, and poetic imagery.

I would introduce this poem with a pairing of books. In high school, most students read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. I would pair this poem before assigning the book reading. Another great book about this occurrence is Night by Elie Weasel. (This was assigned in my high school class.) I would assigned one of these great works and talk about the book as the students are progressing.

After the books are finished I would reintroduce the poem "I Am a Jew" to the class and open it up for discussion. Finally, I would read more examples from I Never Saw Another Butterfly to show the students more personal examples from this horrible historical occurrence.

By giving first hand examples from critically acclaimed works, nobel prize winning works, and young adult poetry, these young adults will have a great understanding to these historical times.

Poetry Book Review: "Science Poetry"


Hopkins, Lee Bennett, and Virginia Halstead. 1999. Spectacular science: a book of poems. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN# 0689812833


This book of poems shows science wonders that children learn in the classroom. Most of these lessons and topics are not fully understood by children and are illuminated through the poetry. Children will benefit from the fun and involving poetry about various science related topics.

Spectacular Science explains complicated science topics such as seeds, microscopes, light, magnetism, dinosaur bones, rocks, metamorphosis, snowflakes, wind, stars and skies. These areas of science are being taught through poetry in this book. The reader will not realize that these lessons are within each line. This will entice children with learning science through poetry in a fun way.

This science poetry books also shows works from a variety of great poets like Lilian Moore, Aileen Fisher, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Carl Sandburg, David McCord, Valerie Worth and more. These different poet bring different poetry styles for different science subjects. This diverse creativity enhances the book and keeps you excited for the next poem.

The visual imagery in Spectacular Science is great for children. Poets use different rhyming techniques and stanza lengths. However, all poets show science in a fun, information way. Each page has vivid illustrations that enhance the science poetry.

Some of the topics in this book are really relatable. I personally found some of the poems to discuss science topics that even I wonder about! These topics are lifelong science wonders that children and adults will be curious about.

Poem: "The Seed" by Aileen Fisher

How does it know,
this little seed,
if it is to grow
to a flower or weed,
if it is to be a vine or shoot,
or grow to a tree
with a long deep root?
A seed is so small,
it stores up all
of the things it knows?

Introducing the Poem:

This example demonstrates some thing simple and complex, such as seeds. Growing plants is an everyday occurrence with nature and something that could also qualify as a phenomenon. (Especially for children.)

I would introduce this poem near springtime when plants, flower, etc are starting to grow. I might even demonstrate planting seeds and watching them grow. This usually takes place in science classes for children.

First, I would let the children learn about planting seeds and nurturing them to grow. Next, I would introduce the poem and ask the children how they think that the seed grows. Once the seeds grow into plants and flowers the children well have an example to pair the poetry with.

By introducing the poem with an actual science lesson children will have a paired understanding of both poetry and science. This is a great way for them to learn because it illustrates imagination, curiosity, poetry, science, and demonstration.

"The Seed" expresses questions that are similar to the wonders of a child. Introducing this poem will create imagination for children.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Poetry Book Review: "2011 Poetry Book"


Golio, Gary, and Marc Burckhardt. 2011. When Bob met Woody: the story of the young Bob Dylan. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN#: 9780316112994.


In this new 2011 release, When Bob Met Woody, poetry is changed in the form of lyrical words. While there not be much recognizable poetry, this book illustrates how to create poetry in the form of music. With its beautiful illustrations it will captivate students into following their dreams.

This book shows the story of young Bob Dylan (Bob Zimmerman) as a small kid growing up in Minnesota. He eventually goes to the New York City where he follows Woody Guthrie as his mentor.

When Bob Met Woody shows the hardships involved with being a kid, being Jewish, wanting to be a musician and following your dreams. This is a great story to share with kids because these messages are what they can relate to. It is also a beneficial story to read because it is based off true life and children can relate to it.

There isn't much poetry that is obvious, but there is some within the story. Several lines of lyrics and quotes are within the story. In addition, the character Bob is inspired by the poet Dylan Thomas. Because of this, he changes his name to Bob Dylan.

With all the influences in his life (Elvis Presley, Woody Guthrie, John Steinbeck, Dylan Thomas) he was able to shape his.


Songs about real life,
Hard times, and hope.

Songs that moved people to
Speak out and stand up.

Songs abotut he struggle
For peace and justice.

Songs in a new voice,
For a new time.

Introducing the Poem:

Even the poetry brings messages about change that Bob Dylan experienced. This book as a whole shows struggles that appear in Bob Dylan music.

I would introduce this book before showing music from Bob Dylan. This would show the children background of the musicians. Once they hear the lyrics they will be able to relate. This will teach them how to learn the lyrical meaning of songs. In doing so, they will be learning poetry.

Another way to introduce this poem is to show the difficulties that Bob Dylan experienced. Then, try to involve the students in figuring out their mentors and who inspires them. From that, they have creative influences that can help them with writing poetry, music, art, etc.

Poetry Book Review: "Verse Novel"


Holt, K. A., and Gahan Wilson. 2010. Brains for lunch: a zombie novel in haiku?! New York: Roaring Brook Press. ISBN#: 9781596436299.


This poetry books is very different from others. It uses poetic form of haiku with verse novel. The viewpoint is that of a middle school student who is a zombie or "z" names Loeb. In this book Loeb experiences interest in his librarian and a "lifer" (human). This book illustrates difficulties that a middle school student may experience.

Since the theme is of zombies, the reader will instantly be drawn to it. By having these zombie nature, readers will enjoy the jokes and cleverness before understanding its lessons. This also helps to draw the reader into poetry.

Brains for Lunch also draws kids into reading about common problems within that middle school age group. The "lifers" and zombies illustrate different groups within the school. Loeb also shows crushes on a Librarian and a "lifer", who he is not supposed to like. This book, while comical, shows situations that male students may face in school.

It also draws to male students with its gross nature. This verse novel brains, guts, maggots, death and other elements that boys would more than likely by drawn to.

Brains for Lunch touches different areas of school such as lunch, library, hallway, detention, girl's lav, and the final contest location. Loeb is encouraged to participate in a poetry competition. While he doesn't think that he can accomplish this, he gains support in doing so. This is great for kids this age because it shows the hardships that they go through with a comical aspect that they can laugh about.

Poem: Hallway

Eye poked out again
Bottom lockers really suck
"Hey Mags! Wait for me!"

"This Zs gotta pee."
"So you ARE talking to me?
Another Eye roll''

Catch it, hand it back
"What did I do this time, Mags?"
A withering look

She doesn't scare me
Her wither's worse that her roll
"She's married, you know."

Mags cuts to the chase
It sure took her long enough
"Who? Mrs. Fincher?"

"Who else, you moron?"
I'm putrefying again
"The way you flirt, Barf."

Introducing the Poem:

This portion of "hallway" shows Loeb and Mags talking about Loeb's crush on the librarian. It shows that he is embarrassed by it and the girl makes fun of him. This shows a common theme among that age group- embarrassment.

Introducing this poetry book could be more difficult than others because of its strange nature. It shows haiku in book form. I would introduce this book in sections. One day I would read a few lines to get them interested and then read the rest on other days. Since the book has several sections this would keep their interest heightened.

This book also shows Loeb trying to get involved with school activities. I think introducing this character and his struggles would help other students accomplishing a specific activity as well. This book could be read to the class over a period of time and with the last section the class could practice haiku or try to involve themselves in a specific activity.

Poetry Book Review: "Poetic Form"


Janeczko, Paul B., and Henri Silberman. 2000. Stone bench in an empty park. New York: Orchard Books. ISBN# 0531332594.


An introduction to this book describes a brief history and guidelines for writing haiku written by Paul Janeczko. I particularly find this helpful because it shows the reader exactly what the poetic form of the book is. Haiku qualities are outlined for the reader to understand in the introduction.

The themes of Stone Bench in an Empty Park take place in major cities and show certain aspects from various writers. These aspects include, tollbooths, newspaper stands, rain, parks, buses, trees, carnivals, baseball, jumping rope, music, pigeons, sidewalks, construction, skyscrapers, and many seasonal themes (summer, spring, snow, rain, icicles, etc).

Different writers have come together to publish this book; each poem illustrates a theme from a particular writer. Many well known poets include Myra Cohn Livingston, Nikki Grimes, Paul Janeczko and Alan Pizzarelli.

The audience for this book is slightly higher being ages 10+. The themes are more mature and the individual poems do not have titles.

This poetry book collects the guidelines for haiku (syllable count, nature themes, etc) and channels it into the the surroundings of a city atmosphere. Each poet write about nature as it applies to the city. While haiku have strict guidelines, some of the poets go outside the standards so that their message can be heard.

By showing themes of the city with haiku the poets are trying to reach out to the reader in noticing that your surroundings can be part of nature. Instead of traditional themes such as hills, trees, and mountains, the poets use themes that the reader can relate to. In doing so, their haiku standards are slightly altered.

Poem: by Anita Wintz

full moon shining
squeezes between skyscrapers


Introducing the Poem:

You can see by this haiku that the writer chose to go outside the guidelines for haiku. She did this because she wanted to illustrate a quality of skyscrapers to the reader through "fluorescent". She also wanted to add something extra to the poem.

I would introduce this poem before a field trip somewhere. Many children are drawn to the themes of the city and any poem from this book would be great.

Particularly, this poem shows the poet breaking away from the standards of haiku. I think another way of introducing this poem would be before poetry studies. You could teach the students about haiku, and they could learn the guidelines. Since most children don't get excited about haiku, you could show examples from this book to inspire them. They would enjoy "breaking the rules" like the other poets have.

Many poems in this book could be illustrated through out the school year because they mention spring, summer, and winter. This would be a great poetry book to have because it mixes the seasons with aspects of the community.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Poetry Book Review: "Multicultural Poetry"


Mora, Pat, and Rafael López. 2007. Yum! mmmm! qué rico!: Americas' sproutings. New York: Lee & Low Books Inc. ISBN: 978154302711.


Pat Mora uses one haiku for each poem; each haiku describes a specfic food that is native to the Americas. Mora brilliantly uses food to show multicultural poetry.

These foods include blueberry, chile, chocolate, corn, cranberry, papaya, peanut, pecan, pineapple, potato, prickly pear, pumpkin, tomato and vanilla. In addition, with each food hiaku is a passage describing the origins of the food and unique facts. These passages are beneficial for teachers and parents that would want to enhance the understandings of a particular food.

This poetry book is a great example of multicultural poetry because it displays spanish words with english words. These include "la cocina"(kitchen), "los dulces"(sweets), "la luna"(moon) and "que rico"(delicious). Including these words creates a mystery for some children and teaches them new words.

While there is no appearant rhyme, Mora uses consonance and alliteration throughout some of her haiku. For example, "thick prickly skin, inside". This makes each haiku fun to recite and easy to read for children. Mora's literary techniques when writing about food create a great visual imagery.

The illustrations by Rafael Lopez are very vivid and convey a message of happiness. These bright images mixed with haiku about food welcomes a joyous reaction with children.

Poem: "Peanut"

Smear nutty butter,
then jelly. Gooey party,
my sandwich and me.

Introducing the Poem:

Mora uses alliteration and consonance in this particular poem with "nutty butter" and "jelly. Gooey party". She takes the poem about peanuts and translates it into something a child would recognize: a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich.

The passage on the side states how peanuts dervive from South America along with other facts. It also indicates that March is National Peanut Mouth. Introducing this poem during March would be a great way to show the poem.

Other foods within this book correspond to National Month celebrations. This particular poem could be introduced at the beginning of March when children are celebrating different aspects of the month. I would recite the poem and talk about food to the children.

There are many poems about food in this book that could be introduced to cihldren before a social studies lesson. I would also read one with a few spanish words and then translate the words for them. By introducing the poetry this way, it would be a great segway to learning other spanish words or social studies topics.

Poetry Book Review: "NCTE Award Poetry"


Fisher, Aileen, and Karmen Thompson. 2001. Sing of the earth and sky: poems about our planet and the wonders beyond. Honesdale, Pa: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press. ISBN: 1563978024.


Aileen Fisher is one of the recipients of the NCTE poetry award. In Sing of the Earth and Sky she writes about different themes such as the moon, sun, earth and stars.

The voice Fisher translates into the poetry is that of a childlike viewpoint. These lines read "It may be true / what people say / about our spinning / night and day ... / but I keep wondering / anyway". Another example is a poem about how many stars there are in the sky: "I wonder if people / will ever know". With this childlike curiosity reading through the poetry book, students will be able to identify with its literature.

Each stanza of Fisher's poems is different in size, rhythm and rhyme. Most are short stanzas with every other line rhyming and others rhyme with the last line of each stanza. With various kinds of ryhme and rhythm the poetry reads differently through each poem.

The poetry expressed in this book is not as descriptive as it could be. Even though this is an award winning author, the poetry imagery and illustrations are concrete and bland. For its topic of astronomy, I believe children would expect more visual imagery. Fisher uses more wonder-type poetry than descriptive-type poetry.

The illustrations are all black and white images, while the cover is colorful and inviting. Karmen Thompson, the illustrator, has captured many of the poetry's themes in simple black and white illustrations. However, these simple images and the poetry's lack of visual imagery creates a dull mix.

In a brighter note, many of the poems will cause the readers to become curious and interested in astronomy. Several of the poems outline ways to wonder about the solar system and beyond. Sing of the Earth and Sky also touches on subjects more than once. Instead of one poem on each theme (sun, moon, earth, and stars), Fisher has sections of each theme. Because of the larger volume this poetry book would suit a higher age group for children.

Poem: "Endless Space"

The billions of stars
in the Milky Way
seem out at the end of space:
Rivers of stars,
cities of stars,
too many to name or trace.

But what do you think!
Those rivers of stars,
those cities of stars a-spinning
aren't really the ending
of space at all,
but only the mere beginning.

Introducing the Poem:

This particular poem, "Endless Space" is one that I found more descriptive than others. It introduces the Milky Way to children by comparing it to rivers and cities so that it can be easily understood.

Fisher's childlike viewpoint is also seen with this poem by showing the vast number of stars as "too many to name" and "aren't really the ending / of space at all". This correspondes to earlier poems in the book, since "Endless Space" is the last. It sends a message that while you can't understand all of astronomy, you shouldn't fear it. Instead, you should admire it.

This poem would be a great introduction to the Milky Way, astronomy, or science. It is a great ending to the book because it gives a pop of surprise that children will admire. I would introduce the topic of the Milky Way in relation to where our solar system is. Then I would describe a few aspects of the Milky Way. Next, I would read the poem to the class and have them ask questions or make comments about what they think the Milky Way looks like.

Poetry Book Review: "Florian Poetry"


Florian, Douglas. 2007. Comets, stars, the Moon, and Mars: space poems and paintings. Orlando: Harcourt. ISBN: 9780152053727.


Florian introduces the poetry book by engaging the reader and introducing them to 'skywatching'. The poet uses a simple rhyming technique paired with equal syllable counts on some of the poems. This creates a fun rhythm. Others have every other line rhyme. Florian also repeats some lines repeatedly throughout a poem to reinstate a message. For instance: "Pluto was a planet" is repeated several times teaching the child its history.

Another quality of Florian is his imagery of sight. He uses descriptive words and stanza techniques. For a poem about galaxies, the poet used the stanza in the shape of a swirl. This illustrates a quality of spiral galaxies that will create imagery for the child. In addition, the illustrations show different shaped galaxies for the reader to see. Since the topic of this poetry books is astronomy, Florian uses both his poetry and illustrations to show a detailed image.

Florian also uses exciting words that children will want to repeat. These include "girth", "bumblebee", "galore", "nimble", "gigantic", and "Jupiterrific". Star names are also used like "Sirius", "Canopus", "Alpha Centauri", and "Arcturus". By using these words, Florian creates a sense imagery of sound. Listeners will want to repeat the words.

Each page displays a theme within the universe such as stars, planets, etc. For the poem entitled "the sun" the illustrations display various names for sun. Examples of these are "zun", "sol", "sonne", "soare" and others. These are subtle but added details to the poems. Another added feature are circle cutouts within the pages to show planets and add depth. These enhance the poem as well and are creative touches to the book.

the comet:

Ice, rock, dirt,
Metal and gas-
Around the sun
A comet may pass.
A dirty snowball
Of space debris.
The biggest snowball
That you'll ever see.

Introducing the Poem:

First, this poem is a great introductory lesson on comets. With the poem above, there is an illustrative background that details the parts of a comet (nucleus, coma, tail).

With the illustrations this poem also has a mixture of rhythm and rhyme. The first line of the poem starts slowly while towards the end the poem speeds faster. Like other poems in this book, "the comet" explains a wondrous concept to children.

I would introduce this poem before or after science class or science-related activities. This would be a great opportunity to get the children excited and curious about astronomy and science. Also, introducing this poem before or after a meteor shower would be fun. It would get the children excited about astronomy or meteor showers that they could view while at home.

Other poems in Comets, stars, the Moon and Mars could be introduced as well. When Venus, Mars, or Saturn become visible in the night time sky, these poems would be great to read to children. Florian uses different astronomy concepts that are vague and mysterious to most people. His poetry helps to teach students these science wonders.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Poetry Book Review: "Hopkins Collection"


Hopkins, Lee Bennett, and Marcellus Hall. 2009. City I love. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers in association with the Field Museum. ISBN: 9780810983774.


Hopkins uses many techniques with her poetry. In City I Love, Hopkins uses different aspects of cities from all around the word to display various exciting themes. With her descriptive words she expresses city features such as skyscrapers, taxis, subways, etc. This poetry book shows different elements from famous cities that children will be able to identify with. Hopkins shows these big city elements with simple one-word poem lines. This poetry book helps students to connect with different environments, people and places.

Excerpt: "City Lights"

Blazing lights





Introducing the Poem:

With the illustrations behind this poem, children will be able to easily connect and imagine what the poetry is trying to read to them. The child's imagination will definitely open up. This would be a great poem to show to the students while they are learning about different cultures or places around the world. Children will be excited about different people and the different places they come from. Many of these poems can illustrate happiness within something mysterious.

Poetry Book Review: "African American Poetry"

Giovanni, Nikki, and Ashley Bryan. 1996. The sun is so quiet. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN: 0805041192.

The Sun is So Quiet shows a group of simple individual poems illustrating themes of seasons and parts of the day. Some include the winter, summer, and other show themes about daytime and night time. This poem shows metaphors and similes that children will be able to grasp. The poet, Giovanni, uses descriptive words that illuminate her poetry into everyday themes. Children will be able to identify with her poetry because it is so simple yet connective.

Excerpt: "The Stars"

Across the dark and quiet sky
When sunbeams have to go to bed
The stars peep out and sparkle up
Occasionally they fall

They dance the ballet of the night
They pirouette and and boogiedown
In the blue and red and blue-white dress
They hustle through the night

The fairies play among the stars
They ride on carpets of gold dust
And dawn's gray fingers shake them off
Occasionally they fall

Introducing the Poem:

I think this poem shows illustrates stars in a beautiful and magical way. Children will be able to relate to this poem because it shows a great deal of description. I would introduce this poem before nap time because it would give that dream-like feel to children. It could also be introduced to create imagination for the children. Many poems in this book can be introduced at different times during the year. Some deal with snowflakes and others about rainbows. Giovanni has a great skill of taking an intense theme (rainbows) and explaining it into a simple, creative poem. Many of these poems can be introduced to children to help there understanding of seasons.

Poetry Book Review: "School Poetry"

Prelutsky, Jack, and Doug Cushman. 2006. What a day it was at school!: poems. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN: 9780060823351.

What a Day it Was at School! is a fun and exciting poetry book detailing the different elements of school. The main character is illustrated as a cat instead of a child which opens up the imagination. Different aspects described are doing homework, going on field trips, the cafeteria, show and tell, and different subjects within the curriculum. What a Day it Was at School! also gives detailed illustrations that are slightly exaggerated from normal life; this creates more imagination to the reader. There is a simple rhythm which gives an easy meter for reading. Some lines include alliteration which is fun for kids. This book of poetry is also very descriptive which gives senses such as sight and sound. This poetry book is a fluent story book; Each page shows a fun and excited part of going to school.

Excerpt: "I Drew a Yellow Unicorn"

I drew a yellow unicorn,
Complete with polka dots,
A seven-legged elephant,
A pig with purple spots,
The sky was full of furry fish
All flying upside down.
An octopus was dressed in plaid,
A camel wore a crown.

I drew a green rhinoceros
That floated on the breeze,
Some bees as big as basketballs,
And blue spaghetti trees.
The penguins wore pajamas,
And a carrot flew a kite...
My teacher says it's beautiful-
I think my teacher's right.

Introducing the Poem:
I would show this poem from What a Day it Was at School! to the children because it opens up the child's imagination. It also keeps them excited about school. I chose the artistic poem from the rest (math, science, etc.) because it describes how the character in the poem is artistic and inventive. This would be a great poem to present before art class or a time devoted to arts and crafts for kids. It could also be shown to increase the reader's imagination. There is also a poem that describes going to the library which would be a great way to introduce the children to the library. At the end of What a Day it Was at School! is a poem about kids writing poems. This poetry book has many aspects of school life that are helpful to children and would open their minds to having fun at school.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Subject Change!

This blog will now be supporting the Library Science course of Poetry for Young Adults to better support my understanding of the subject matter. Look here for continuing information about poetry during this spring semester!