Category Archives: Poetry

An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth
by Karlin Gray, illustrated by Steliyana Doneva
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

Told in rhyme, from the point of view of the moth, we’re introduced to the world of moths.  While many fascinating moths are mentioned and illustrated, a boy becomes fascinated with an ‘ordinary’ brown moth. Enamored with the moth, the boy educates his younger sister on what makes the moth so special.  Soon both children and their mother love the moth.  The little ordinary moth takes pride that he’s someone’s favorite.  Children who think of themselves as ordinary will certainly relate to this endearing tale.

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Write Your Own Haiku for Kids

Write Your Own Haiku for Kids
by Patricia Donegan
Tuttle Publishing, 2017

Filled with haiku, this book introduces the seven keys to writing haiku and, step by step, helps readers identify into words the five senses of their haiku moment.  New writers can review their haiku with a checklist.  The book also covers other forms of haiku, including visual forms and seasonal haiku.  Haibun (stories in haiku), haiga (haiku with drawings) and Renga (linked poetry) are also included, along with activities that can be done with haiku, like making a small book from one sheet of paper.  The book offers readers an immersion into haiku and its many forms, generously sprinkling haiku and writing prompts to assist in learning.  Many haiku are written by other children, to encourage children to plunge into the new poetry form.

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Seeing into Tomorrow, Haiku by Richard Wright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing into Tomorrow, Haiku by Richard Wright
Richard Wright, illustrated by Nina Crews
Millbrook Press, 2018

Delightful book. Richard Wright, 1908-1960, wrote hundreds of haiku in his later years and this book features twelve of them. Featuring African-American children it’s a perfect introduction to haiku and the seasons. Nina Crews’ photos capture the images and emotions of the poems.

The haiku explore and encourage deeper associations with typical images seen in each season. “As my delegate, My shadow imitates me…”  How empowering knowing your shadow respects you so much, it imitates and represents you!  Some haiku personify nature, giving children the opportunity to wear another’s shoes and see the world from other perspectives, as in, “The clouds are smiling At a single yellow kite Swaying under them.” These perspectives open reader’s minds to what other things in nature notice their presence, and, they are not alone.

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Martin Rising, Requiem for a King 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King 
Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Scholastic Press, 2018

A collection of brilliant “docu-poems” summarizing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s(MLK) birth, life and family, and time up to the weeks and months before his death. The time before his death includes his birthday January 15 through April 4, 1968. The story includes the sanitation worker’s strike in Memphis and its challenges, MLK’s last sermon and his last night. It also includes the half-mast flags, funeral and mourning of a community who had lost their leader. Author Andrea Davis weaves in MLK quotes on love into a valentine poem ending with,

“…folks in Memphis
are down on their knees
proposing to Equality:
Be mine!”

The book introduces readers to acronyms like GOD: Gift of Desperation, their motivation for the strike, and COME: Community on the Move for Equality. She uses Henny Penny, a chicken of “The Sky is Falling” fame, as narrator to illuminate, punctuate and foretell events in the story.

In loose, vibrant colors, Brian Pinkney’s illustrations show the emotions of the events, both emotions displayed and emotions held in by the African-American community during their struggles. A brilliant piece of work on all accounts.

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Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers

Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers
by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Yan Nascimbene
Sleeping Bear Press, 2008

This creative history-based tale tells the story of Japanese Yuki who must travel 300 miles with her family and one thousand carriers for her father to be with the Shogun. Traveling on foot, this is a long journey.

Yuki does not want to leave home and each day is reminded she is not home by what she sees. The carriers wade across rivers, climb snow covered mountains and pass bays and villages. Yuki and her mother, however, are carried in a palanquin. Yuki’s life is much different from today’s girls. In one way, following rules for a family of her class, she could not be seen and, therefore, could get out of the palanquin and run or walk on her own. But keeping up with her studies was important and she wrote a haiku each day.

We are a dragon
Our one thousand carriers
the dragon’s long tail.

The story is told in a lovely, poetic voice, interspersed with haikus.  Gloria Whelan’s exquisite writing immerses the reader into the time, country and culture.  Yan Nascimbene’s watercolor illustrations the gentle, protected life Yuki lived.

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Shaking Things Up, 14 Young Women Who Changed the World

Shaking Things Up, 14 Young Women Who Changed the World
by Susan Hood
HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2018

More and more books about women in history who made a difference are appearing on the market in time for National Women’s History month. This book selects women from the 1700’s through 2014, and women from the US and around the world.

Beginning with Molly Williams, who was named an official fire fighter near the time of the American Revolution, to 13 year old Mary Anning who unearthed the first ichthyosaur skeleton, to 21 year old Maya Lin who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In each story snippet, we learn the background, what the women went through to achieve their success and how their success made a difference in their world at their time.  To add to the beauty and uniqueness of the book, each story is written in a poetic form: rhyme, open verse, acrostic, and many more.  Readers learn history and poetry simultaneously, while being inspired by (often) little known stories.

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A Different Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Pond
by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui
Capstone Young Readers, 2017
2018 Caldecott Honor Book

A touching story of a Vietnamese refugee and his family surviving in America.  Working two jobs, he also takes his son fishing to ensure they have dinner. Written in brief, poetic snippets, the reader learns of how it felt to have been in the war and how it feels to speak with a heavy accent:

A kid at my school said
my dad’s English sounds like
a thick, dirty river.

But to me his English
sounds like gentle rain.

When the boy wants to help, but feels uncomfortable hooking a minnow, the dad smiles and respects his son’s decision. A poignant glimpse inside a refugee’s family’s experience.  Backmatter provides more details on the family’s entry into America.

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Love

Love
by Matt De La Pena, illustrated by Loren Long
P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018

Award winning Matt De La Pena captures the essence of love shared between people in each verse in his book, Love. And illustrator Loren Long expands and enriches each page with his own scenes showing love, like when a child offer’s his hot dog to an older gentle with crutches or a father and daughter dancing on the roof of their trailer.  The book is chock full of love throughout. In bright, glorious colors and soft, poetic descriptions, readers, without knowing, absorb multiple examples of love on each page. Some scenes are endearing, some are regular, like playing in the streets. Some are unhappy, like when there’s an argument.  Love depicts a wide array of moments of love among family, friends and neighbors.

“Your loved ones will stand there like
puddles beneath their umbrellas, …”

“A love that wakes at dawn and
rides to work on the bus.”

Rendered in poetry and colorful action scenes that often jump off the page, Love will expand a reader’s understanding and vocabulary about love.

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Before She Was Harriet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before She Was Harriet
by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome
Holiday House, 2017

A brilliantly told story that introduces Harriet Tubman, best known as a Conductor in the  Underground Railroad.  Written in brief, open verse, the story opens with her twilight years, and works its way back to when Harriet worked as a suffragist, when she was “General Tubman”, Union Spy, and the many roles she played in history.

“a wisp of a woman
with the courage
of a lion.”

Illustrated in loose, yet vivid, colors, one can ‘feel’ her story.  The book will fuel a curiosity in readers to want to know more about this American hero.

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The Class

The Class
by Boni Ashburn, illustrated by Kimberly Gee
Beach Lane Books, 2016

Shared in a lyrical voice, The Class shares how 20 different children prepare for their first day of class.  The illustrations show 20 different homes, 20 different families, 20 different personalities and 20 different responses to school’s first day.  Illustrator Kimberly Gee had to use a spreadsheet to keep everyone in the correct clothes, with consistent personalities and family members.  Nearly every reader will share something in common with some of the kids.  It’s fun to follow one child at a time through the book to see what their experience was like; it’s like a big puzzle. It can easily be used as a primer to teach about emotions they may experience on their upcoming first day, and how they might feel in class with 20 kids all day.

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