World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Abrams, 2018. $16.99. 48p. ISBN 978-1-4197-2845-7. Ages 8-11. P6Q8
Holder of the Guinness Book of Records for compiling the most anthologies for children, poet and artist Hopkins has created the first book in a series of books in partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art Store for books covering biography, history, art concepts, and content from the museum’s exhibitions. These specially commissioned poems from 18 contemporary writers, primarily women, each connect to works varying from a pavement fragment created in the 1300s BC to a 2014 acrylic by Kerry James Marshall and taken from different cultures across the globe. One coincidence is the selection of Rosa Bonheur’s The Horse Fair, also featured in Maryann MacDonald’s Rosa’s Animals. Each painting is fully credited, and the book concludes with short biographies of the artists and poets.
Verdict: The poems add to the artwork by drawing the eye to parts of the artwork that might be overlooked. The book will be valuable for both art and literature.
April/May 2014 review by Nel Ward.
[Editor’s note: from the publisher’s description–“The collection represents a wide range of poets and artists, including acclaimed children’s poets Marilyn Singer, Alma Flor Alda, and Carole Boston Weatherford and popular artists such as Mary Cassatt, Fernando Botero, Winslow Homer, and Utagawa Hiroshige.“
Bulion, Leslie. Leaf Litter Critters. Ill. by Robert Meganck. Peachtree, 2018. $14.95. 55p. ISBN 978-1-56145-950-6. Ages 8-12. P8Q8
In this small, easy-to-hold book, Bulion introduces the reader to creatures from beetles to bacteria that break down the duff—the decaying plant parts and animal wastes under new fallen leaves on top of the humus layer. Each two-page spread about a different “recycler” in the “brown food web” provides a whimsical poem, colorful drawings, and factual science notes.
Verdict: Highly colored illustrations are delightful, and verbal details are geared to the audience, for example comparing the size of some organisms to a comma or period. Readers can spend hours pouring over the details of the book.
May 2018 review by Nel Ward.
Latham, Irene, and Charles Waters. Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. Carolrhoda Books, 2018. 39 pgs. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-5124-0442-5. Ages 8 -12. P7 Q8
This collection of poems encapsulates the interactions that happen between a pair of middle schoolers – a white girl and a black boy. The freestyle poems capture a variety of moments from each child’s point of view, from attending church, to dealing with other students on the bus, to incidents on the news, and dinner with the family. The poems capture the complex feelings of the children, from wanting to fit in, to different ways our parents try to protect us, and forgiving our friends for their misunderstandings as we learn to navigate the issue of race.
This collection reads more as a series of single-page journal entries than as poetry, but the dichotomies that are introduced are important. The POV approach to discussing different experiences around similar topics works well to highlight how different people have different understandings around similar topics. The illustrations are simple and the text is the central focus on each page.
VERDICT: A strong choice for discussions about race in a way that allows for personal interpretation.
May 2018 review by Sudi Stodola.
Silverstein, Shel. Runny Babbit Returns. HarperCollins, 2017. $19.99. ISBN 9780062479396. 89 pages. Ages 5-10. P7 Q9
If you like tongue-twisting word play, you will enjoy Runny Babbit Returns, a collection of forty-one poems and drawings that were assembled from the completed but unpublished works in the Silverstein archive. Featuring Shel Silverstein’s style, this New York Times bestselling poetry book was awarded Amazon Best Book of 2017 and Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2017. This story is filled with spoonerism poems following Runny Babbit and some of his friends, Goctor Doose, Dungry Hog, and Skertie Gunk, as they have adventures. Some of the poems are simple to understand and others are a little more difficult. The illustrations are black and white with large characters. Children who have a good grasp of language will enjoy the challenge of figuring out the poems.
Verdict: I read this book to kindergarten, first and second grade students. The children who enjoyed the poems really liked them. The other children caught on as the children shouted out what the poem was supposed to say. The children’s eyes lit up when they were able to decipher what was trying to be said. Over half of the students in each class said they would check out the book to read with their families. This poetry book would be a good addition to any public and elementary school library. Shelsilverstein.com has an event kit which includes reproducible Storytime activities, exploring poetry, a decorative event poster and even Runny Babbit rabbit ears one can download that go along with this book.
March 2018 review by Tami Harris.
Giovanni, Nikki. I Am Loved: A Poetry Collection. Illustrated by Ashley Bryan. “A Caitlyn Dlouhy book.” Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781534404922. Unpaged. Ages 6-10. P6 Q7
If you are looking for a collection of beautiful heartfelt poems that show love, this is the book for you. The message that you are loved comes through clearly, including young and old alike. Even though I do not think children will gravitate toward this book, children might like having the poems read to them. My favorite poem is the kidnap poem because it guides you through what would happen if you were “kid napped” by a poem. The last page has a mirror so that the child can look in to see their own face. Some of the concepts will go over the heads of younger children. Illustrations include art from multiple eras: Tibetan mandalas, American quilts, Madhubani paintings and 1960’s psychedelia. As an adult, I appreciated many of the poems and the depth of them.
Verdict: This book combines art and poems with a focus on love and family. I recommend it for libraries with elementary age children and for public libraries.
February 2018 review by Tami Harris.
Sayre, April Pulley. Full of Fall. Beach Lane Books, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781481479844. 40 pages. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8
Simple poetry leads the reader through the progression of changing leaves as the landscape prepares for winter.
There is information at the end of the book on the science behind the changing colors and life cycle of leaves. Photographic illustrations include close ups and far away shots highlighting the beauty of leaves. The words are simple, but combined with the pictures, it is an elegant picture book. Words create motion, “They float and sink. They snag and swirl.”
Verdict: This book makes a great addition to a library with young children. The colors are delightful, the words are simple, and the information at the back of the book helps the children learn about fall.
October 2017 review by Tami Harris.
Frost, Helen. Photographs by Rick Lieder. Wake Up! Candlewick Press, 2017.ISBN 9780763681494. $15.99. UNP. PreK-3. P5 Q8
Wake Up! is an inquisitive poem comprised of words and wildlife photographs. Each photograph is joined by one half of a sometimes-rhyming couplet. Helen Frost has previously published three books with a similar formula, also working with Rick Lieder. This newest one continues the “nature from a different perspective” theme of the series by including unusual shots of animals that are not likely to be observed by the hobbyist hiker or bird-watcher. This particular book would not be broadly recommended if not for the inclusion of additional information about each featured plant and animal. After the poem, a thumbprint of each photograph is followed by each organism’s name and a brief fact. This addendum greatly improves the usefulness of the book.
Verdict: Like the three previous books in the series, the photographs are very good. Though not the favorite in the series, this book would be a good addition to a nature lesson or poetry lesson in a PreK- 1st grade classroom.
September 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.