Category Archives: Poetry

A Movie in My Pillow

A Movie in My Pillow
by Jorge Arguenta, illustrations by Elizabeth Gomez
Children’s Book Press, 2001

A boy from El Salvador escapes from his country and arrives in San Francisco with his father, leaving the rest of his family behind.  Their story is told in poems, written in both English and Spanish and illustrated with bold, bright colors of El Salvador.  Poems tell of his life in El Salvador, as well as the early days in the States.

The poems tell of his neighborhood where “you can taste/a soup of languages/in the wind.”  Other poems are about common experiences any boy might have, “Shadow/…you make me mad//because/every time/we race/you always win.”

The heart-song words and colorful illustrations make this an endearing story that will reach into a child’s heart.

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We are Brothers

We are Brothers
by Yves Nadon, illustrated by Jean Claverie
Creative Editions, 2018

Stirring. Riveting. Heartfelt. We are Brothers tells the tale of how a younger brother is encouraged by his big brother to jump from rocks high above the water.

Told from the younger brother’s point of view, and in a poetic voice, we see “the wall.”  We feel the fear, “Not now”.  Surprised, the younger brother climbs the wall with the ease of a cat.  At top, he hesitates. Trusting his brother, he finally jumps…and everything is silent as he falls.  He’s thrust into the water, then returns to the surface like a fish.  Big brother celebrates the first jump, then they do it again.  As brothers.

The illustrations by award-winning French artist are soft, gentle, exquisite. They capture and show the feelings involved with the first jump from a high place. They show the trust the young brother feels from the encouragement of a loving big brother.

If you like this story, also check out Jabari Jumps, a story about a father supporting a boys first jump into a pool.

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A Horse Named Jack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Horse Named Jack
by Linda Vander Heyden, illustrated by Petra Brown
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

A perfectly-rhymed, counting book about a mischievous, loveable horse named Jack, what could possibly be better for young readers?

“When Jack greets children on the farm,
he’s friendly, frisky—full of charm.”

Jack ventures out of his stall to learn about kittens, hay bales and carrots, only his neighbor doesn’t approve of him munching on her garden and ten tomatoes hurl his way!  Cherries, bees, a puddle of mud, make one dirty horse who returns to his barn.

Pure fun, pure joy, kids will delight in Jack’s mishaps and adventures.

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Kaya’s Heart Song

Kaya’s Heart Song  
by Diwa Tharan Sanders, illustrated by Nerina Canzi
Lantana Publishing, 2018

Fascinated with her mama’s singing, Kaya learns that, like her Mama, she has a heart song. On her way out to play, she follows a butterfly that takes her where she’s never been before.  She sees a friend guarding a door.  Behind the door is a carousel of elephants.  Wanting to ride them, Kaya pulls vines from the elephants and begins to hear her heart song and her dream soon comes true.

This is a mystical, magical, musical story that tugs heartstrings, sings to ears and encourages the reader to listen for her own heart song, knowing that with a heart song, anything can happen.

Illustrations in (healing) green with bright spots of color portray a mystical place in Malaysia where magic can happen. Back matter introduces the practice of mindfulness where, when the mind quiets and becomes still, it leaves room for awareness to move in. It encourages living in the present moment.

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Hoot and Honk Just Can’t Sleep

Hoot and Honk Just Can’t Sleep
by Leslie Helakoski
Sterling Children’s Books, 2017

During a storm, eggs of owl and duck tumble away from their nests.  The mothers find their lost egg and return them to their nests, but there’s a mix up.  Owl is born with ducks and world is topsy turvy—and those ducks sleep all night!  Duck is born with owls and does not take to fur and bones for dinner!  Rendered in rich, bold, layered pastels on sanded paper the characters jump off the page.  Written in terse, rhyming verse it’s a delight to the ears.

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Ducks Away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ducks Away!
by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek
Scholastic Inc., 2018

Written for the earliest of readers, Ducks Away! Is a lyrical, nurturing book of a mother duck and her five ducklings—and a counting book, too!

Five little ducks waddle across a bridge when a gust of wind sweeps one into the river.  Mother Duck worries, “What should I do? Where should I go, with four on the bridge and one below?” She continues to worry, when another and another and eventually all five fall into the river.  Hesitant about jumping off the bridge, the little ducks encourage her to jump!

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Guess Who, Haiku

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess Who, Haiku
by Deanna Caswell, illustrated by Bob Shea
Abrams Appleseed, 2016

A perfect introduction to haiku for preschoolers and kindergarteners!  Starting with introducing a cow, each haiku introduces a new animal common to young readers. Each haiku includes word clues and illustrations include picture clues.  The first haiku is:

new day on the farm
muffled mooing announces
a fresh pail of milk

The readers turn the page to discover (or confirm) the answer!  Then that animal recites the next haiku.  This simple-to-read and comprehensive format will help make learning about haiku fun and help first time haiku writers be brave enough to attempt their own haiku.  After a child has mastered Old MacDonald Had a Farm, this will follow beautifully to introduce them to poetry.

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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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