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.