Coming Up: April and National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, one of my favorite book celebrations.

Funny thing is—I don’t really remember a lot of poetry as a young child, just nursery rhymes, the songs and hymns at church…and of course, Dr. Seuss.  The first poem I recall studying was “Paul Revere’s Ride,” which I had to memorize.  All of it.  My attitude toward poetry was very much like Jack’s in Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, but unlike Jack, my attitude stayed that way until I was an adult.

I discovered the delightful world of children’s poetry when I had my own children.  One week when my son Alex was three, among our stack of library books was Jack Prelutsky’s Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast.  Alex loved the rhythm and the vocabulary and, of course, the dinosaurs.  And for the first time, I found poetry to be fun!  I ended up buying the book, and we still have it, though the pages have been taped again and again—a sure sign of a much-loved book.  (I was thrilled when Mr. Prelutsky was named the first Children’s Poet Laureate in 2006.)

Three brand-new poetry books about animals are sure to delight kids. In Birds of a Feather, Jane Yolen’s poems about birds are written in various styles and forms and combined with gorgeous photographs taken by Jason Stemple.  Katherine B. Hauth’s humorous verses in What’s for Dinner? : Quirky, Squirmy Poems from the Animal World describe the gruesome and gross ways that the animal kingdom follows the natural law, “Eat or be eaten.”  An excellent title for both upper elementary science and language arts lessons, At the Sea Floor Café : Odd Ocean Critter Poems combines fact-filled and vocabulary-rich poems about sea animals and habitats with informative text; Poetry Notes at the end describe the form and style of each poem.

In The Great Migration : Journey to the North, Eloise Greenfield describes the anxieties and fears—and hopes—of those African Americans who migrated north between 1915 and 1930, trying to escape racism and find jobs. The final poem relates her own family’s story of journeying north when she was just a few months old, and the front jacket flap explains that the illustrator’s parents were part of the Great Migration as well.

Weird? (Me, Too!) Let’s Be Friends not only contains poems about friendship, but it is also an idea book to help the reader create his or her own poems.  In the introduction, author Sara Holbrook says that poetry is personal, and that, for her, a good poem is one she can identify with.  I found much to relate to in Sara’s poems—especially  Girlfriends:  “Such a private / conversation / that words would interfere… / The eloquence of touch— / a language / only girlfriends / understand.”

Bob Raczka has written a book of poems created from single words in Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word.  The title of each poem is a single word, and its poem uses only the letters found in that word.   One of my favorites is Earthworms: “A short storm / worms here / worms there / wear shoes.”  The poems are also interesting to look at, because the letters in each poem are lined up under the same letters in the title.

Click here for a more comprehensive list of new poetry books at Mackin’s website.


At the Sea Floor Café : Odd Ocean Critter Poems by Leslie Bulion. 2011.

Birds of a Feather by Jane Yolen. 2011.

The Great Migration : Journey to the North by Eloise Greenfield. 2010.

Lemonade : And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka. 2011.

Weird? (Me, Too!) Let’s Be Friends by Sara Holbrook. 2011.

What’s for Dinner? : Quirky, Squirmy Poems from the Animal World by Katherine B. Hauth. 2011.

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