One of my very favorite things to do is to feature children’s books by first time authors, especially when they’re written by dear online friends.
I’ve been a fan of Elaine Magliaro’s poetry and blog Wild Rose Readerfor about ten years now. I first began reading her wonderful posts at Blue Rose Girls before she launched Wild Rose Reader in April 2007. A retired elementary school teacher and librarian, Elaine is extremely knowledgeable and unfailingly passionate about children’s poetry, which she shared in the classroom for over three decades, and which she herself has written for many, many years.
Though I’ve loved the insightful book reviews, fascinating interviews, and general wealth of amazing educational resources available at Wild Rose Reader, I was always most excited when Elaine posted her own poetry. Over the years, her poems appeared in several anthologies, but now (hooray, hooray!), she finally has her own book!
Things to Do (Chronicle Books, 2017) is an absolutely stunning debut and I’m thoroughly delighted to sing its praises. The fourteen list poems, paired with Catia Chien’s evocative acrylic paintings, chronicle the small, sweet moments of a child’s day. Most illuminate wonders of the natural world: sun, moon, sky, rain, a bird, an acorn, a honeybee, crickets, a snail — from a uniquely childlike perspective that is refreshing, innocent, and thoroughly charming.
Birdsong, flowers blooming, “a sea of summer air.” What a singular delight to linger over this new collection of Emily Dickinson poems!
Emily Dickinson, edited by Susan Snively and illustrated by Christine Davenier, is the first book in a new Poetry for Kids series published by MoonDance Press. The 35 poems are arranged by season, beginning with Summer. And what a joyous welcome it is:
It’s all I have to bring today,
This, and my heart beside,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.
Who could resist such a generous invitation to tag along with Emily as she spies a skittish bird, describes what it’s like to chance upon a snake (“grass divides as with a comb”), and cheerfully provides a “recipe” for making a prairie (“it takes a clover and one bee”)?
After the carefree explorations of summer, there’s a gradual winding down as Autumn arrives, with poems about a garden preparing for the cold weather, sunsets, and the passage from life to death. Winter ruminations strike a fitting contemplative tone: snowfall magically transforming the landscape, an industrious spider spinning a web, imagining what heaven might be like.
With Spring, the welcome signs of new life, a delightful letter from a fly to a bee, and fanciful cloud gazing:
A curious cloud surprised the sky,
‘Twas like a sheet with horns;
The sheet was blue, the antlers gray,
It almost touched the lawns”
18. Breakfast Poetry Buffet: “A Litany of Toast” by Cathy Lentes, “Breakfast” by Merrill Leffler, “The Life of Man” by Russell Edson, “Rendering” by Seth Bockley, “Imaginary Conversation” by Linda Pastan.
Though every elementary school student in Japan is familiar with Misuzu Kaneko’s poetry, relatively few in the English-speaking world are familiar with her work.
Marked by a refreshing ingenuousness, curiosity, and extraordinary empathy for the world around her, Misuzu’s poems resonate with people of all ages, demonstrating that quiet, gentle words have their own special power.
Let’s not tell anyone.
In the corner of the garden this morning,
a flower shed a tear.
If word of this spreads
to the ears of the bee,
it’ll feel it’s done wrong
and go back to return the nectar.
Thanks to this breathtakingly beautiful picture book, a new audience of North American children can now read a selection of Misuzu’s poetry in English, learn about her short tragic life and the fascinating backstory of how her work was lost for half a century before being rediscovered in 1982.
Oh, this is such a silly rule —
That people must wear pants to school.
A better rule, a wise man said,
is wear your underpants instead.
This little morning complaint is just the beginning. There are complaints about school and for the evening, too. As the title states, no fair! no fair!
Many of the 23 rib-ticklers in this collection were inspired by real-life experiences from Trillin’s children, grandchildren, and his own childhood. Young readers will giggle in recognition at the ploys used to convince one’s parents to get a pet, the earnest desire to send back a new baby brother, and horror of all horrors — sitting next to a scoocher sister who won’t stay on her side of the backseat. Grrrrrr.
She’s over the line,
she’s over the line.
She occupies space
That’s rightfully mine.