Monday, April 30, 2012

In the Sea by David Elliott

In his latest poetry collection, David Elliott leaves the wild and farms behind and dives into the deep. His poetry and Holly Meade's woodblock print illustrations celebrate life beneath the waves.

What I thought: Another hit from Elliott and Meade! I've grown so fond of their poetry collections, I ordered a copy of In the Sea for all my library branches. This is poetry for young children at its best. My favorite poems are "The Sea Horse," "The Starfish," and "The Puffer Fish." Holly's woodblock prints are great. I love the bold black lines and the colors are perfect. My favorite illustrations are the starfish, coral, anemone, and clown fish. I can't wait to use In the Sea during story time.

My reviews of Elliott and Meade's Other Collections:
On the Farm
In the Wild

(Illus. Holly Meade. Candlewick, 2012)

Friday, April 27, 2012

UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems & Paintings by Douglas Florian

Florian goes bee crazy in his new collection. In 14 poems, he explores every aspect of the honeybee's life. Extra facts make the poems even better because the reader discovers that the poems are based on fact.

What I thought: I'm a serious Florian fan! What I like most about this collection is the factoids. I recently used his Insectlopedia in a family story time and the kids wanted to know more about the insects the poems were about. The format he uses in UnBEElievables is perfect. Florian's collections would pair well with Joyce Sidman's nature poetry collections. As usual, I love the illustrations. They have definite kid appeal. I especially like the colors on the poem pages--very eye catching. My favorite poems are "Summer Hummer," "Waggle Dance," and "Bees Buzz."

(Beach Lane Books, 2012)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Poetry Month Programs

I know this is a little late, but I wanted to share all the fun programs I've done this month at my libraries that celebrate National Poetry Month.

It's Raining Cats & Dogs Story Time
This program is for preschoolers and early elementary school age children. Everything I read was poetry about cats and dogs.

Teen Book Spine Poetry Program
I don't think I need to introduce this idea, but I had great fun with it. I also did a tween program, Edible Crafts & Book Spine Poetry, this month.

Poetry Outreach Story Time
Every month, I visit a local elementary school where I read to students in Pre-K, kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades. I have one agenda for Pre-K and Kindergarten and another for 1st and 2nd graders. I shared animal poems with Pre-K and Kindergarten. I shared riddle poems with the 1st and 2nd graders.

Poetry Introduction
Each month, 1st-3rd graders from a small private school visit the library for "library lessons" as their school doesn't have library. We talked about poetry, they played poetry tag (thanks, Sylvia Vardell!), and learned how to write an acrostic poem using their names.

I hope everyone enjoys my ideas. Only 5 more days left in 2012's National Poetry Month!

Lemonade & Other Poems Squeezed from One Word by Bob Raczka

Summary from Dust Jacket: Part anagram, part rebus, part riddle--these poems capture a scene from a child's daily life and present a puzzle to solve. Sometimes sweet and sometimes funny, but always clever, these poems are fun to read and even more fun for kids to write. Bob Raczka is a fresh, new voice in children's poetry who knows that fun and games can turn a poetry lesson into lemonade!

What I thought: This is such a great idea for a poetic form. I remember getting worksheets in elementary school where we had to make words out of the letters in a phrase like "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Valentine's Day." The only catch was we couldn't use the letter more times than they appeared in the phrase. Raczka allows the double and even triple use of letters. I'm itching to try this new form myself. I think the hardest part is choosing a word. My favorite poems are "Moonlight," "Constellation," "Halloween," and "Spaghetti." I notice that most of the words Raczka uses have more than one syllable. Perhaps that's where I should start.

(Illus. Nancy Doniger. Roaring Brook Press, 2011)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Summary from Dust Jacket:
No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.

For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by...and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.

But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, HÀ discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape...and the strength of her very own family.

This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.

What I thought: I liked this book for several reasons. First, it's based on fact. Second, it's a verse novel and in the format I prefer--titled poems and these are further subdivided by place. Thirdly, it's about a time and a people I know little about. In all my history classes, we never made it to the Vietnam War. Sad, I know, but true. Hà's story was deeply moving and will resonate with anyone who has ever experienced prejudice. I love Hà's spunk. After reading Inside Out & Back Again, I see why it won the National Book Award.

(Harper, 2011. National Book Award Winner)

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Little Bitty Man & Other Poems for the Very Young by Halfdan Rasmussen

What I thought: Amusing, sometimes downright silly poems paired with lovely illustrations. I adore the saturation of color. My favorite poems are "You Can Pat My Pet" and "The Strange Old Owl." My favorite illustrations are the cover and "The Strange Old Owl."

(Translated by Marilyn Nelson and Pamela Espeland. Illustrated by
Kevin Hawkes. Candlewick, 2011.)

#FlannelFriday: As I Was Going to St. Ives

This week, I made a felt set to go with the traditional riddle poem "As I Was Going to St. Ives." Here's the poem:

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives.
Each wife had seven sacks.
Each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits:
Kits, cats, sacks, wives,
How many were going to St. Ives?

I'm using this for my It's Raining Cats & Dogs Story Time this month. The surprise is that the story time features all poetry.

As you can see from the picture above, I made judicious use of the number seven. After all, would you want to make 7 wives, 49 sacks, 343 cats, and 2401 kits? Probably not! As usual, I used a combination of clipart from Microsoft Office and coloring sheets for templates.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli

Bindi's life is changing and not for the better if you ask her. Her dad has left. She thought to look for work, but no. Bindi's mom finally admits they have separated. Aunt Darnell loses her job and wants to open her own restaurant. The Dancing Pancake becomes a reality, but Bindi isn't sure if she likes this new direction her life is taking.

What I thought: I loved it! The Dancing Pancake touched on some many pertinent issues for today's kids without being depressing or sad. This is the type of verse novel I really like--titled poems function like small chapters. Bindi and crew (family, friends, etc.) were wonderful characters. I really liked Joanne's illustrations. They added quite a bit of humor to the story. They remind me of Louis Darling and Alan Tiegreen's illustrations of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books. My favorite poems are "Reading Chair," "House Mouse," "Miss Mole," "Another Hope Gone," and "Being a Pancake." Bindi's love of literature was great. It would be interesting to read all the books she mentions.

(Illus. Joanne Lew-Vriethuff. Knopf, 2010)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Poetry Speaks Who I Am edited by Elise Paschen

A collection of poetry just for teens. Too often teens move from children's poetry to adult poetry without a pause for their own age and what it means to be a teen. Poetry Speaks Who I Am seeks to fill that gap. The collection is enhanced by an audio CD with 44 poems read by 35 poets.

What I thought: There is a need for this type of collection. I agree wholeheartedly with Elise Paschen's introduction. When I was a teen, I was reading the oldies like Frost and Dickinson. I wrote poetry and found myself imitating this poets. There's nothing wrong with that, but I wish a collection like this one had been around a decade or so ago. My favorite poems are "An Angry Valentine" by Myra Cohn Livingston, "Death of a Snowman" by Vernon Scannell, and "Used Book Shop" by X. J. Kennedy.

(Sourcebooks, 2010)

Friday, April 13, 2012

#FlannelFriday: Memory Game for 10 Hungry Rabbits by Anita Lobel

Three weeks ago, I saw Sharon's (Rain Makes Applesauce) flannel version of 10 Hungry Rabbits by Anita Lobel. I'd recently read the book and planned to use it for my rabbit story time. I liked Sharon's version, but that was a lot of pieces to make. On March 30th, I quickly made a flannel of 10 Hungry Rabbits to use during my story time.

As you can see from the picture above, I made 10 rabbit heads. The colors match the items they find in the garden. I used a Peter Rabbit coloring sheet as my template, but you could easily use Mama Rabbit or Papa Rabbit from the book.

Here's how I used this flannel: First, I read the book telling the kids to pay attention because I would need their help retelling the story with the flannel board. After reading the book, I got out the flannel board and the rabbits. The kids job was to tell me what each rabbit found. I'd say, "The first little rabbit found one big purple..." and they would fill in the blank. It worked very well and I look forward to using it again.

Poetrees by Douglas Florian

As you can guess from the title, this collection of poems is all about trees--from the seed to the tip top height and everything in between.

What I thought: I've only read one other collection by Florian (Mammalabilia) and I didn't like Poetrees as much. The subject will interest readers in other nonfiction books about trees. I love the illustrations. Again, I think Florian gives his illustrations child appeal. My favorite poems are "Oak," "Monkey Puzzle Tree," and "Dragon Tree." My favorite illustration is "Dragon Tree." The "Glossatree" will whet readers' appetites for more tree facts.

(Beach Lane, 2010)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Underwear Salesman & Other Jobs for Better or Verse by J. Patrick Lewis

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you don't know, take a look at this zany collection of occupation themed poems.

What I thought: These poems are so fun. The illustrations are perfect. I like that Lewis mixed normal jobs (e.g. librarian) with more unusual ones like a tiger tamer. Not only will kids enjoy these poems, I think they might be inspired to write their own poems about what they want to be when they grow up. The Underwear Salesman will pair well with Steady Hands: Poems About Work by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. My favorite poems are "Librarian," "Poet," and "Exterminator."

(Illus. Sarge Bloch. Atheneum, 2009)

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Frogs & Toads All Sang by Arnold Lobel

Before he became famous for his Frog & Toad books, Arnold Lobel wrote and illustrated this collection as a gift for friends. Discovered in late 2008, Lobel's daughter Adrianne knew it needed to be published. She added the color to the illustrations herself. In ten poems, we get a glimpse of the young Arnold Lobel.

What I thought: I loved it! I enjoyed The Frogs and Toads All Sang as much as Odd Owls and Stout Pigs. In fact, I'd like to read all of Lobel's work. The poems are fun and the illustrations are just right. Adrianne did a great job on the color. My favorite poems are "The Frogs and Toads All Sang," "Polliwog School," "Made for Toads," "There Was a Frog," and "One Summer Night." My favorite illustrations are dancing and driving.

(Color by Adrianne Lobel. Harper Collins, 2009)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems by Kristine O'Connell George

Being a big sister isn't easy especially when you have a little sister like Emma. In 14 poems, we discover the hardships of being a big sister and the unconditional love that's required.

What I thought: I loved this collection. I'm a big sister, but my little sister is only two years younger so I never experienced the woes of being a "big" (as in a lot older) sister. What I know about that kind of big sister, I got from books. George's poems expertly capture the relationship between the sisters. My favorite poems are "Picture Books," "Family Tree," "Emma's Birthday," "Telling Time," and "Cast." The illustrations are great--colorful and appealing. Emma Dilemma will pair well with Beezus and Ramona and Ramona the Pest.

Story Time Theme: Siblings

(Illus. Nancy Carpenter. Clarion, 2011)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Twosomes: Love Poems from the Animal Kingdom by Marilyn Singer

How do animals love? Read on and you'll find out.

What I thought: Too cute! Marilyn Singer may just be one of my favorite children's poets. The poems are simple--couplets really--and the illustrations are great. They are colorful and make good use of white space. My favorite poems are chameleons, elephants, and geese. My favorite illustrations are the cover, cats, and sharks.

Story Time Themes: Love, Valentine's Day, Animals

(Illus. Lee Wildish. Knopf, 2011)

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Didn't Do It by Patricia MacLachlan & Emily Charest MacLachlan

Have you ever owned a puppy? If you have, you'll understand this book completely. If you haven't, you may decide on a fish instead. In 14 poems, the authors capture the personalities of puppies perfectly.

What I thought: Dog poems! How great is that? I'm a dog owner/lover and I loved this collection. My favorite poems are "No Name," "I Didn't Do It," "Big," "Pretty Puppy," "She Flies," and "Puppy Dreams." The illustrations are lovely, so realistic. I love the soft lines and colors. My favorite illustrations are "Shh...I'm Here," "No Name," "What Did I Do?," and "She Flies."

Story Time Themes: Dogs, Baby Animals

(Illus. Katy Schneider. Katherine Tegen, 2010)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Happy National Poetry Month 2012!

April is one of my favorite months because every one's attention shifts to an often overlooked and under-appreciated genre of children's literature--poetry. Poetry written for children is actually great fun. The majority of it is humorous if not downright silly. I try to incorporate poetry as often as I can into my story times and programs. I order poetry books for my libraries and recommend them to parents once they arrive.

This will be the second year I've done a poetry story time. Last year, I called it that and the attendance was low. This year I'm disguising it by its theme and calling it "It's Raining Cats & Dogs Story Time."

I'm also hosting two book spine poetry programs for teens and one for tweens. The picture you see above is my first attempt at a book spine poems. In addition, I'm putting together an outreach story time on poetry for pre-kindergarten through second grade. I know I'm going to use some riddle poetry collections, but I haven't finished the planning yet.

At one of my libraries, first, second, and third graders visit the library once a month because their school (small, private) doesn't have a library. I'll be giving them an introduction to poetry. I'm even thinking of coming up with a game of poetry tag for them too play (thank you, Sylvia Vardell, for the idea!).

I'll be posting my program plans to my storytime site as soon as I get them planned. I'm hoping to post them by the end of next week so others can make use of them if they wish. The plans may change a bit as I present them at all my libraries.

I'm very excited about Sylvia Vardell's new book The Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists. I've already ordered my copy and it should arrive sometime next week.

Here at What Is Bridget Reading?, I'll be posting poetry reviews all month. Stay tuned! And you can access any of the past poetry reviews I've posted by clicking Poetry or Verse Novels in the sidebar.

In addition to my programs and reviewing, I'm also going to attempt to write a poem every day during April. Ambitious, I know, but it's been far too long since I've written anything besides program plans and book reviews.

I'll also be reading other's special poetry month posts. Hopefully, there will be a full schedule of what's going on in the Kidlitosphere up soon.

Happy National Poetry Month! I hope you enjoy the celebrations.