Category Archives: Poetry

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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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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