Posts Tagged ‘poetry’
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
UnBEElievables: honeybee poems and paintings
by Douglas Florian (Beach Lane Books)
This volume contains poems that often burst with humor, puns, alliteration, and rhyme. Each poem is accompanied by a nugget of scientific fact and faces a page of bees with attitude, sometimes wearing fancy hats or jewelry. Many poems feature different bees, including queens, workers, scouts, and drones. Other poems focus on life cycles, pollination, the recent disappearance of bees, and beekeepers. We learn a lot, and with pleasure in the inventive language and simple, funny paintings with lots of green and gold, which are sometimes amid collage and rubber stamp work. Further reading is suggested at the end, along with a BEEbliography.
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature
by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld (Candlewick)
Outside Your Window is a tall, wide book organized by the seasons. It’s packed with short entries of encounters with flowers, trees, and animals. It’s written by a zoologist, but one who tried to remember and convey what she marveled at when five or six years old, and succeeds in providing a tone of simplicity and wonder. We get poems recording encounters in the wild, suggestions for outdoor activities, even an occasional recipe. Entries for spring give us pond sounds, dandelions, seeds, compost, and nests. Summer takes us to hayfields and tide pools, as well as suggestions of ways to enjoy a den. Autumn emphasizes the pleasures of falling leaves, wind, and migrating geese. The colors of winter turn more subdued, but we see the glories of the particular shapes of trees, and the treasures to be found in the night sky or on a quiet beach. And there are those birds to feed, along with suggestions for feasts.
Mark Hearld brilliantly uses mixed media, giving us a sense of bright retro aprons or wallpaper here and there, but always with motion: wind feels ever-present. Each flower and bird — and their nests, eggs, and perches — is unique and compelling.
Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
Step Gently Out
by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder (Candlewick)
“Step gently out,” is the first line of the book, and we see the elegant legs of a praying mantis maneuvering his way across daisies. The colors and fuzz of a caterpillar, photographed close up, stun as we’re asked to watch a single blade of grass. Ant, honeybee, cricket, moth, and spider are shown larger than life, photographed as gently, it seems, as the stepping: background is put into soft focus, which gives a sense of an observer willing to just watch. The short single poem carries us into dusk, then another morning. An afterword with more photographs tells us more about the small, amazing creatures.
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Water Sings Blue
poems by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle Books)
The first poem invites us to leave land’s stillness and “the heavy brown pier” for water and sky that sing blue. More poems echo the themes of imagination, freedom, and change that the sea calls out. We get humor with poems about seagulls, urchins, and octopus ink, a sense of time in “Sand’s Story” and “Tideline,” and drama in “Shipwreck.” Different moods are deftly conveyed through a variety of poetic techniques. Beautiful watercolors are the perfect medium for the changing blues and grays of the ocean, and Meilo So uses a great palette for the colors of many varieties of fish, coral, and seashells.
Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
His Shoes Were Far Too Tight by Edward Lear, Masterminded by Daniel Pinkwater, Illustrated by Calef Brown (Chronicle Books)
Following a brief introduction of Edward Lear, Pinkwater presents a selection of Lear’s nonsense rhymes to share with young readers. Well known poems such as “The Jumblies” and “The Owl and the Pussycat” are included as well as a number of less familiar rhymes. Brown’s quirky, colorful illustrations sprawl across the pages, adding just the right touch to this oversize collection.
Pick up a copy of His Shoes Were Far Too Tight and click here to read more of our Top of the Shelf recommendations!
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
Ants in Your Pants, Worms in Your Plants! (Gilbert Goes Green) by Diane deGroat (HarperCollins, 2011)
While this book is written simply enough for beginning readers to follow on their own, the layered plot and humor make it one both readers and listeners will want to return to again and again. From the first page, we’re on Gilbert’s side as he tries to come up with a subject for a poem about spring. It seems to him that everybody is more successful, though the thought balloons that appear throughout tell a different story. A student who seems earnest, for example, has his mind on the clock.
As Gilbert wiggles, the teacher asks, “Do you have ants in your pants?” and these ants appear again throughout the book as Gilbert worries about ants on a picnic, and ultimately they lead him to an idea right before his eyes, and he’s able to write a pretty terrific poem. Along the way we also learn about how to help clean up the earth, as Gilbert has to come up with not only some creative writing, but an Earth Day project, too. We fret with him, say “Eewww” with his friends considering other projects, and finally enjoy a hard-earned cheer.
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Diane deGroat was at The Carle on Sunday for a BookTalk interview and autographed copies of her books for the store. Pick up a signed copy of Ants in Your Pants, Worms in Your Plants! (Gilbert Goes Green) or other autographed titles illustrated by Diane, including the bestselling Charlie the Ranch Dog by Ree Drummond, while they last!
Read more Top of the Shelf book reviews.
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Ubiquitous (like our previous Top of the Shelf book, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, also by Joyce Sidman) also features poems grounded in science, though with a personal take, and again with nonfiction sidebars offering more information. Here the subject is evolution, and I particularly like the endpapers Prange made from long winding string to illustrate the ages of life forms. Humans are on the short end of time, with coyotes, dandelions, crows, sharks, lichens, and — the winner by a long stretch — bacteria showing their survival skills. We get poetry about many of these and others — including the gecko featured on the cover — that make us marvel as well as learn. Beautiful linocuts hand-colored with watercolor enhance the sense of wonder.
Click here to purchase or here to read more Top of the Shelf reviews.
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Salley Mavor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Here’s a substantial collection of nursery rhymes every child should hear arranged to meander from morning to evening. This big book drew my hands toward the photographs of felt children, animals, and trees, and made me lean in to examine the stitches’ astonishing detail. The peas in a pod, faces peering from pumpkins, a babe rocking in a walnut cradle and much more echo a warmth in poems we want to chant even when we don’t quite understand them. The images are a good match for rhymes like The Cow Jumped Over the moon, Three Blind Mice, and others hailing from an era when they were often told by knitters, spinners, menders, perhaps with balls of wool on one knee and a contented child on the other.
Click here to purchase and here to read more Top of the Shelf recommendations.
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Joyce Sidman masterfully uses a variety of poetic forms to bring nights in the woods to readers who are cozy inside. Each poem is accompanied by a love-infused scientific description of the protagonist, which includes the owl of the title, a cricket, mushrooms, a bat, a spider, a porcupette, moths, snails, and an oak (from the sidebar accompanying the poem: “Although they don’t look it, trees — like most plants — are constantly busy.”) Rick Allen’s linoleum block prints hand colored with gouache are stunning. Children’s curiosity will be peaked to learn more about:
“The night’s a sea of dappled dark
the night’s a feast of sound and spark,
the night’s a wild enchanted park.”
ADDED: We are so pleased this book just won a 2011 Newbery Honor! It’s a rare and exciting treat indeed when a picture book text is recognized as being one of the year’s most distinguished contributions to American children’s literature. Congratulations Joyce Sidman!
Pick up a copy of Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night and read more Top of the Shelf book recommendations.
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masée (Dutton Children’s Books)
Many children – and adults – enjoy fairy tales, and this collection of poetry takes old stories such as Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, and Jack and the Beanstalk and spins them around. We read short poems first top to bottom, then bottom to top for a twist on adventures and meaning. The book brings immediate smiles, while demanding to be read again and again. Bright and fanciful illustrations play with the reflections in the poems. Clever readers may want to try their own hand at what acclaimed poet Marilyn Singer calls the reverso, something she encourages with her note at the end.
Pick up a copy of Mirror Mirror and read more of our Top of the Shelf book recommendations.