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Posts Tagged ‘children’s poetry’

If you’re feeling a little thirsty, you’ve come to the right place.

Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole (Millbrook Press, 2014)Irene Latham’s first poetry collection for children– is officially hitting shelves on Monday, September 1!

With fifteen beautifully crafted poems, Irene invites us to meet a fascinating variety of animals who frequent a water hole on the African grasslands.

Whether it’s those charming little meerkats standing guard in a nearby burrow, a tentative giraffe acrobatically positioning itself at water’s edge, a herd of playful zebras cavorting in a metaphorical “rugby tangle,” or a solitary rhino venturing out for his moonlight drink, we can easily see what a busy, life-sustaining place this is from dawn to dusk.

Written in free verse and rhyme, Irene’s spare, evocative poems are by turns lyrical, whimsical, informative, amusing, enlightening, reflective and reverent. She did a brilliant job of zeroing in on precisely those aspects of animal personality and behavior that best lend themselves to poetic interpretation. Each verse is paired with a nonfiction note offering further details about how the animals thrive and function in the ecosystem, illuminating interdependence, survival and diversity.

Anna Wadham’s gorgeous illustrations convey the many moods of the savanna, sometimes rust orange and warm, sometimes jade green and refreshing, other times dreamy cerulean and soothing. Her emotive renderings nicely complement the verses, indeed welcoming the reader to “this vital place/where earth and sky convene,” inspiring us to wander, meander, and freely appreciate this unique poetic celebration of wildlife and habitat.

I especially enjoyed hearing from the new-to-me oxpeckers, whose comical poem I’m sharing today, along with the ethereal “Impala Explosion,” a stunning example of how terse rhythm and neat rhyme can perfectly capture the animals’ spirit and movement.

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“Truth is so rare, it is delightful to tell it.” ~ Emily Dickinson

I’ve been curious about Emily Dickinson’s relationship with children ever since learning that she used to lower baskets of gingerbread to the neighborhood kids.

That’s why I loved Burleigh Mutén’s delightful verse novel Miss Emily (Candlewick, 2014). It gave me a good sense of how Dickinson might have interacted with four of the children in her life: her niece and nephew Mattie and Ned (who lived next door at the Evergreens), and the pastor’s kids Mac and Sally, who lived across the street.

This fun and suspenseful adventure, where Emily and the children disguise themselves as gypsies to catch a glimpse of the midnight circus train, is told from Mac’s point of view. It is clear the kids all adore Miss Emily and she, them, united as they are in imaginative play and a singular brand of friendship.

Illustrations copyright © 2014 Matt Phelan

I’m so pleased Burleigh is here today to tell us more about writing and researching Miss Emily. I daresay “the children’s laughing goddess of plenty” herself would be quite pleased with this story, as it celebrates her fondness for children and the importance of remaining true to one’s inner child: therein lies the truth about who we really are and should always strive to be.

Look sharp! The circus train is here. All Aboard! :)

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Mr. Cornelius Cucumber

While looking for more children’s books illustrated by Lena Anderson, I was happy to discover Anna’s Garden Songs – a whimsical, light-hearted collection of 14 fruit and veggie poems written by Mary Q. Steele.

Garden favorites like peas, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, beets and onions take their place in the sun with playful rhyming verse and Lena’s fanciful pictures. I may as well confess right now that I’ve always had a thing for giant vegetables, so when I saw how Lena fiddled with scale in this book I squealed with delight. :)

Blond, mostly barefoot, bespectacled Anna is just adorable as she plants, harvests and shares the garden’s bounty with her friends, grandfather, and large pet rabbit, who happily scampers through the pages and almost steals the show (he’s especially good at nibbling and napping).

 

From the moment I opened the book and saw Anna hiding in that big pea pod, I knew I was in for a real treat. I can’t decide which I like most — Anna sitting atop a giant beet, relaxing amongst the tomato plants, or wearing a dress made from lettuce leaves.

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Ahem. I’ve known for some time that poets J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian are both crazy. Crazy talented, that is.

Ebullient wizards of comedic timing and wordplay, these two pun meisters should be arrested for having way too much fun. Having tickled the funny bones of kids everywhere for decades, they’ve each published dozens of award winning books that celebrate the many wonderful possibilities of poetry. Such joy! Such cleverness! Such vigorous versifying! Veddy veddy good.

Now, a new book by either one of these beloved poets is a real treat, but having them write a book together is like having your cake and eating it two, three, maybe five thousand times. In Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems (Schwartz & Wade, 2014), Mr. Lewis and Mr. Florian have set their engines at full throttle, pulling out all the stops when it comes to inventing 21 crazy dazy cars of the future.

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#49 in a series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Put on your bathing suit and flip flops. Grab your pail, shovel and shades. Let’s go to the beach!

Poet Richard Michelson and illustrator Doris Ettlinger celebrate the sights, sounds, smells, fun and mystery of a joyous day by the sea in their charming new picture book, S is for Sea Glass: A Beach Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Press, 2014).

Written in a variety of poetic forms (ode, haiku, free verse, rhyming couplets), Michelson’s poems range from lyrical to light, capturing the many moods, rhythms, and emotions associated with ocean and shore from A to Z.

Have you ever made a sand angel? Or maybe you’d rather show off your castle-building skills, stroll the boardwalk, or comb the beach for shells or sea glass, letting your imagination run wild with possibility. Was this piece from a “king’s cup/Or medicine bottle” — maybe even a pirate’s decanter? Whatever you decide, there’s nothing quite like a tossed and tumbled “gift from the ocean.”

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