Posted tagged ‘Poetry’

THE CROSSOVER

May 21, 2015

Last week while my brain was a blank page, I read Kwame Alexander’s book, The Crossover. The title refers to a basketball maneuver used by one of the main characters. Deservedly, Alexander received the Newbery Award and Coretta Scott King Honor Award for his efforts.

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The story, written in verse and poetry that has you moving and grooving, is narrated by twelve-year-old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother, Jordan, are talented basketball players. They’re like two peas in a pod until a love interest threatens to rupture the special bond the twins have. Kwame Alexander intertwines family, loyalty, sibling rivalry, and lessons of life with basketball skills to strike a rhythm that keeps readers turning the pages. When the boys are faced with a life-changing event, remembering the importance of a loving family pulls them together and makes for a heartwarming story. For me this book is a slam dunk.

One Last Shout-out

April 30, 2015

Here’s one last shout-out for Poetry Month. I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild’s Pocket Book is a must read! This book of rhymes, riddles, and tongue twisters was edited by Iona and Peter Opie and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

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In the introduction to the book, Iona Opie notes the rhymes “. . . were clearly not rhymes a grandmother might sing to a grandchild on her knee. They have more oomph and zoom; they pack a punch. . . .” And let me tell you, some of the rhymes do exactly that! The contents of this book have been divided into a variety of categories. There are rhymes that are familiar to us from childhood, and there are those that are not so. Today, some of these old rhymes might be considered irreverent or not politically correct. Nevertheless, these are rhymes that will tickle the fancy of young children. They will make them laugh or squeal at their absurd nature.

From the category of Graces comes this rhyme.

Bless the meat,

Damn the skin.

Open your mouth

And cram it in.

Notice it’s not your usual before-meal grace.

There are many more attention-grabbing rhymes throughout the book that will shock and entertain readers. The Opies have also included end notes that give additional information and origins of the various rhymes. Combined with the talent and clever renderings of the iconic Maurice Sendak, this book is a work of genius. It’s a classic – not only for children, but also for adults who have not lost their inner child. Make sure to put this on your list of favorite books.

Let’s Talk Birds

June 19, 2014

At four o’clock each morning, birds convene outside our bedroom window and hold a tweet fest. I don’t know what they’re chirping about, but they have a lot to say at that hour. Maybe they’re planning their day. Maybe they’re gossiping about the events of the previous evening. Whatever they’re doing, it’s disturbing my beauty rest!

I enjoy watching our fine feathered friends in the bird bath during the day. Some very lovely birds come to our exclusive spa. The way they interact with other birds is very enlightening. But why, oh why, do they have to be so noisy in the morning?

If you’re a bird-lover, here are a few books to tweet about, and they won’t wake you up in the morning.

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Birds, written by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by his wife, Laura Dronzek, is a very simple story. Using birds as the subject, the story and illustrations combine color and size concepts. The narrative includes elements of imagination and surprise, and it has a very satisfying ending. Dronzek’s illustrations are bright and colorful and will delight young children.

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Feathers, a book written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Lisa McCue, is poetry in flight. Spinelli cleverly introduces readers to a fascinating variety of birds by using different poetic forms. Back matter includes more information about each bird. McCue’s brightly colored illustrations are done in watercolor and acrylic. The birds are shown in their habitats and many pages include borders. This is a perfect book for young bird-lovers.

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How to Heal a Broken Wing, written and illustrated by Bob Graham, is a sweet story of a little boy who rescues a bird with a broken wing. The text is spare, but the message is powerful. With time and hope, the family works together to help heal the bird’s wing. The illustrations, which are subdued at the beginning of the story, are done in pen, watercolor, and chalk. As the story progresses and the bird’s wing heals, the illustrations become more vibrant. This book lends itself to discussions of kindness and caring.

Can you think of any other bird books to share?

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

May 15, 2014

It’s that time of year when I begin to inventory the books in the library. Some days it takes me longer than others – especially when I discover an interesting book I had forgotten was on our shelves. That’s when inventory stops, and I take a little break to enjoy what I’ve missed. Where in the Wild? is one of those books. It’s a perfect read for anyone at anytime.

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This book is written by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy and the amazing photographs are by Dwight Kuhn. Schwartz and Schy, who are husband and wife, teamed together to craft a book about camouflaged creatures. Various forms of poetry pose a challenge for readers as they try to discover what creatures are hidden in Kuhn’s pictures. On a separate page, additional information about that animal is included. What makes this book so appealing, besides the clever poems and fascinating facts, are Kuhn’s captivating photographs of the camouflaged creatures. After carefully searching for the hidden creature, the reader can lift the gatefold to reveal its whereabouts. I found this award-winning book  delightful, and I think young readers will, too!

If you like this book, there are two companion books by the same team:

Where Else in the Wild?

What in the Wild?

 

Jiving with Jazz and Poetry

April 24, 2014

International Jazz Day is April thirtieth. It’s also the last day of National Poetry Month. Why not celebrate a jazz-jiving poetry day! Start those fingers and toes tapping with Jazz written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers and Jazz A●B●Z written by Wynton Marsalis and illustrated by Paul Rogers. Both of these books pay tribute to jazz and jazz greats.

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Feel the rhythm and the beat as you read Walter Dean Myers′ poems that explore the different types of jazz. Colorful illustrations by Christopher Myers pull you into the story poems with each page turn. Included in this book is an introduction by Walter Dean Myers, a glossary of jazz terms, and a jazz time line. All of these provide a better understanding of the history of jazz and its components.

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If you want to know about jazz greats, Jazz A●B●Z is the book for you. Wynton Marsalis, a gifted musician, offers a peek into the lives of twenty-six talented performers from the jazz scene. Marsalis uses a variety of poetic forms to skillfully impart facts about the musicians. Paul Rogers’ illustrations, which bring to mind vintage album covers, cleverly include the artist and items related to that artist. Also provided in the back of the book are biographical sketches of each of the twenty-six musicians and an explanation of the poetic forms used in the book. Words and illustrations meld together to make a fascinating book filled with information.

If you’re a music and poetry connoisseur, celebrate International Jazz Day and National Poetry Month with these two books.

 

Poetry Anyone?

April 17, 2014

In honor of National Poetry Month, here’s a smattering of poems written by some of my fourth and fifth grade library students. Enjoy!

Spine Poem by Mason

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Cinquain by Vincent

Elephant

Huge, Gray

Wandering, Bathing, Swimming

Sucking up the water

Asian

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Spine Poem by Kaitlyn

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Cinquain by Haven

Apple

Awesome, Electronic

Tapping, Typing, Playing

The computer is super

Company

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Spine Poem by Jeada

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Cinquain by Matthew

Mankind

Intelligent, Busy

Running, Standing, Talking

Always discovering new things

Leaders

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Spine Poem by Daniel

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An ABC Book for Picture Book Month

November 14, 2013

How many ABC books can you purchase for your child? If it’s well done, there’s always room for one more. All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep is one to add to your collection. In this alphabetical book, author, Crescent Dragonwagon, and illustrator, David McPhail, create a serene setting for lulling a child to sleep. Who knew wild animals could be so calming?

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Crescent Dragonwagon uses a combination of rhyme and alliteration to create a world of well-known and some not so well-known animals that are ready to settle down to sleep. David McPhail’s watercolor and ink illustrations are soft and soothing to the eye and compliment the lyrical text that sets the stage for sleepy time.

This is a perfect book to share with your child who may not be quite ready to settle down for the night.

Black History Month

February 21, 2013

I couldn’t let Black History Month pass by without mentioning a wonderful book written by award-winning poet, Arnold Adoff with paintings by the very talented R. Gregory Christie.

Roots and Blues A Celebration is a book filled with poems that speak of the difficult journey of African American slaves and how the joys and sorrows in their lives were intertwined with the rhythm and music of the world around them.

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Adoff’s word choice and placement of words create rhythmic patterns that flow off the page and sing to the reader. With his unique style, Adoff introduces the history and culture of the blues to readers. References to such music greats as Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, W.C. Handy, Ma Rainey, and others are made. Interspersed throughout the book are paintings by R. Gregory Christie, a Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winner, that capture the suffering and joy of African American life.

This is a book to be savored.

BOOKSPEAK! and More

August 14, 2012

Over a week ago I ordered new library books with money I received from a generous parent. The books have started to arrive. Oh, joy! It’s like having Christmas every day!

One of the first books that graced my doorstep was BookSpeak! Poems About Books written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Josée Bisaillon. Each page has a clever poem about books and their contents. Character, index, conflict, and illustrations are just a few of the topics addressed. To add to the charm of this book are Bisaillon’s illustrations. They are lively and colorful which makes it all the more fun to read this work of genius. As a librarian, I find this book not only entertaining but also a perfect teaching tool. It’s truly delightful!

If you’re looking for books that teach about writing, here is another one that you’re sure to enjoy. Mary Jane and Herm Auch’s hilarious The Plot Chickens is one not to miss. Lots of fun wordplay and illustrations make this book a winner when it comes to introducing the writing process. The elements of writing come alive as Henrietta, the chicken, writes a book of her own with a little help from her relatives in the chicken coop. This book is eggs-actly the right choice for beginning writers.

Black History Month Authors and Illustrators

February 17, 2012

Black History Month is ticking away, and my library students are busy celebrating the African American experience with books. They have discovered a wide variety of genres written and illustrated by some awesome African American writers and artists.

Picture books, poetry, folktales, historical fiction, biographies, and nonfiction have been discussed, passed around, checked out, and enjoyed. It’s heartwarming to see students get excited about books they wouldn’t ordinarily choose. They’re learning to step outside of the box for a new literary experience.

What we’ve come to know during our author/illustrator study is that being exposed to different cultures and ethnic backgrounds enhances our knowledge of the world around us.

We grooved to the rhythmic words in Jazz written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers. We tapped our toes to Leo & Diane Dillon’s Rap A Tap Tap Here’s Bojangles – Think Of That! We learned what it’s like if you have a passion to succeed in For the Love of the Game written by Eloise Greenfield and illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. Lessons of love and acceptance came our way in The Other Side written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis and Show Way also by Woodson and illustrated by Hudson Talbott. Richard Wright and the Library Card written by William Miller and illustrated by Gregory Christie and SitIn How Four Friend Stood Up by Sitting Down written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney demonstrated the hardships black Americans were up against in their struggle for equal rights.

We’ve looked at works by Jerry Pinkney, Virginia Hamilton, Nikki Giovanni, Bryan Collier, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Floyd Cooper, and Rita Williams-Garcia. We’ve been wowed by their talent and impressed by their numerous literary awards.

Celebrate Black History Month. Read. Learn. Enjoy.

“We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.” ~Carter Woodson, 1926


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