Author Guest Post: “Finding ‘HOME’ in Poetry” by Dianne White, Author of Look and Listen

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FINDING ‘HOME’ in POETRY

When I was growing up, my middle sister was the storyteller in our family. Her vivid imagination and ability to embellish details to suit the occasion came in handy whenever it was time to write. 

I was not that kind of storyteller. I did my assignments as asked, but never once did I think of myself as a writer.  It wouldn’t be until years later, towards the end grad school, when that changed. How? My professor complimented my writing. She’d admired the way I’d organized my thoughts and supported my opinions succinctly and thoroughly. Though it was a completely different kind of writing – preparation for the comprehensive exams – it was the boost I needed.

Strange, isn’t it? One sincere complement changed my relationship to writing. As soon I finished my advanced degree, I was ready for a new challenge, and I knew exactly what it would be: I wanted to write for children. 

My experiences in the classroom had already introduced me to hundreds of picture books. It was the late 80s, early 90s, a time when Whole Language was a buzz word and using “real books” to support reading and writing was common practice. I loved everything about this kind of teaching and discovered a new-found appreciation for the complexities and possibilities of picture books. 

Also at that time, as a bilingual educator in California, primary language instruction (Spanish, in my classroom) was the rule of the day. I loved that, too, but as a first-grade teacher responsible for helping kids learn to read, I was looking for more… 

I remembered a favorite record of Mother Goose rhymes that my sister and I had listened to as kids the week we were both sick in bed with the mumps. (No vaccines yet!)  I wondered – what was the Spanish version of those early childhood rhymes that I remembered so fondly?

That’s when I discovered poems and songs in Spanish: “Luna, Lunera/ Cascabelera/Cinco pollitos y una ternera.” 

I began to integrate more poetry – rhymes, songs, anthologies, and collections – into my classroom. We read oodles of children’s poetry in both English and Spanish, and we began to write it, too. The same lessons that inspired my students to write became inspiration for me. But it took a while to realize that my most true writing home – my querencia, as poet and teacher Georgia Heard speaks about in her book, WRITING TOWARD HOME – is poetry.

So that’s my invitation to teachers. Bring poetry into the classroom. Perhaps your students will find their home there, too. 

Here are 3 ways to do that:

  1. Start with something familiar. School. Someone special –a grandparent? A friend? A pet? Or something as ordinary as the coming and going of a rainstorm, the inspiration for my first book, BLUE on BLUE.

    Brainstorm a long list of words related to the topic. Nouns. Strong verbs. Phrases. Colors. Include words that address the senses. Think image and sound, taste and touch. Kids don’t need to be overly fussy. Nor do they need to rhyme. Let them play with words, moving them around, breaking the lines, and experimenting with the shapes of their poems. This is poetry exploration at its best. Let them have fun creating!

  2. Pick a subject you’re studying in class or a discovery the children have made. I remember one morning, as the bell rang and the kids lined up, a child spotted a praying mantis waiting for us beside the classroom door. We picked her up and placed her in a container, poked some holes in the lid, and settled ourselves in a big circle to share our discovery. This would become our writing workshop for the day.

    We observed, noticed, asked questions. I pulled up a photo of a praying mantis on the smart board and we looked closer, noting the three body parts, the mandible, the spines on the front legs. We used our imaginations. What did this photo remind us of? An alien? A warrior? A conductor? Then, we wrote, starting with an image and a simile: “Like a conductor, the praying mantis raises her baton…”

  3. Write a riddle, as I do in my latest book, LOOK and LISTEN: Who’s in the Garden, Meadow, Brook?, illustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford. Have each student choose an animal and then describe it in the form of a question. Feel free to use the structure of the first riddle in the book as a poetry frame (example below). Don’t insist on rhyme but do let kids experiment. And while you’re at it? Why not have them draw an imaginary animal and describe it! They can choose a SOUND their creature makes and a made-up (rhyming) NAME for the last line.

    One of the best parts of writing workshop is sharing new work with an audience. Short on time? Do a version of “popcorn reading” – one student reads a line from their poem, pauses, makes eye contact with another student, who then reads a line, and so on. Although this takes a little practice, once kids get the hang of this version of “shared reading”, it’s a nice, centering way to close out the day.

Happy Poetry Writing! 

Look and Listen: Who’s in the Garden, Meadow, Brook?
Author: Dianne White
Illustrator: Amy Schimler-Safford
Published June 14th, 2022 by Margaret Ferguson Books

About the Book: A guessing game in a book that celebrates the curiosity and delight of a jaunt through a garden, meadow, and alongside a brook.

A child steps outside and strolls along, taking in the sights and sounds of nature. Rhythmic, rhyming text tracks his journey through a garden, meadow, and next to a brook, introducing a new color and animal found in that ecosystem with every turn of the page, transforming an ordinary walk into a feast for the senses.

Complete with material that explains the rich variety of wildlife and natural habitats found in the book, author Dianne White’s playful text is paired with the vibrant collage artwork of Amy Schimler-Safford, making for an exciting read-aloud and guessing game for budding nature lovers. 

About the Author: Dianne White is the award-winning author of numerous children’s picture books, including Blue Blue, Green on Green, and Who Eats Orange? As a teacher who was privileged to share her love of books and poetry with many students over many years, she now has the pleasure of  writing full-time. Most days, she strolls the neighborhood and fields near her home in sunny Arizona, looking and listening for buzzing bees, hopping bunnies and croaking frogs. Visit her at diannewrites.com.

Thank you, Dianne, for helping bring poetry into the classroom!

Author Guest Post: “Opening the Door” by Marjorie Maddox, Author of Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises

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“Opening the Door: How Stepping Inside the Poem Can Help Your Students—Even Those Who Hate Writing— Read, Understand, Create, and Enjoy Poetry”

Let’s face it: Some students LOVE poetry. It’s their secret passion, guarded closely. They scribble it in notebooks. They sneak-read it between classes.

For others, it’s a public proclamation. They sing poetry, dance it, prance with it around the classroom while reciting it. They raise their hands and volunteer their favorite authors.

However, for many students, well, there’s not so much love. For them, poetry resides in a decrepit, old, locked house AND someone has thrown away the key. No way are they even walking up the front path.

If any of this sounds familiar, read on. Based on my thirty years of teaching poetry at the primary, secondary, and university levels, Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises brings together the eye-rollers, the proud enthusiasts, and the quiet creators. How? By inviting them all inside the poem.

First, unlock the door, then throw away the keys: Not the keys to fun and understanding (we’ll keep those), but the keys that say here’s a list of jargon to memorize, or here are the only subjects that poetry can be about, or here are been-there-done-that worksheets, or here’s a book with dry, lengthy explanations of those terms and exercises.

I’ll bet that most of you have already done just that. But now what?

Why not first approach poems with, well, an approachable poem?  Poems, of course, are not the enemy, but some students feel that way. Here’s a helpful—and fun—way for students to “get to know” a poem.

Befriending a Poem

Invite him home for dinner,
but don’t insist on rhyme;

he may be as tired and as overworked
as his distant cousin Cliché.

Best to offer intriguing conversation
that’s light on analysis.

Allow for silences and spontaneity.
Most importantly, like any good friend,

be faithful and patient;
remember to listen.

Sometimes he’s shy
and just needs a little time and coaxing.

Much of what he has to say
lies between the lines.

Students can choose a poem they’d like to get to know, then take that poem somewhere they themselves like being (the mall? a skateboard park? a soccer field? a cabin? a concert?). Next, interact. Try having them start with one of these titles: “Inviting a Poem to My House,” “A Poem Texts Me and Says,” “Talking Back to a Poem.” You try it, too!

Next, open the door—wide!  Getting to know (and write) a poem is a hands-on experience. I like to start with Inside Out poems “How to See a Poem,” “How to Hear a Poem,” “How to Taste a Poem,” “How to Smell a Poem,” and “How to Touch a Poem.” Students then write their own versions. What fragrance does a poem have? What color is a favorite poem? What does a poem taste like?

How to Smell a Poem

First, inhale deeply and equally.
Your nose, noble and brave,
knows how to adjust to each form
of aroma. Still, when you dive
into scent and swim about
until you’re wet with the whiff
of each syllabic drop,
try not to sneeze when the breeze of ballads
becomes the breath inside your lungs.
Be forewarned: the incense of words intoxicates.
There’s a peppermint odor to odes
and no lemons, no melon emanates from palindromes.
As for lack of predictability, free verse is the worst:
who knows what stench will attack the old olfactory,
what fragrance will rejuvenate your young but numb nostrils?
That’s the adventure to savor in this flavor extravaganza.
Keep following the trail of scent to sniff out the meaning.

These initial interactions then “open the door,” not only to sensory details, but also to such poetic tools as couplets, personification, alliteration, similes and metaphors, line breaks, paradox, and the like. But wait, I said no boring definitions, right? Sure, Inside Out includes a glossary, but wouldn’t it be a lot more enjoyable to experience these poetic tricks through poems that model them? Here’s what I mean:

Couplet

Poetic twins all dressed in rhyme
stroll side-by-side in two straight lines.

In Inside Out, the poems are the definitions. Learn how to write a villanelle by reading the poem “How to Write a Villanelle.” Relax and cast your line with the poem “Fishing for Sestinas.” English and Italian sonnets, clerihews, dramatic monologues, triolets—and more—they’re all here for the meeting. Allow them to introduce themselves.

Come on in! It’s no secret that many of us learn best by doing. It’s one thing to admire a house (or a poem) from the outside. It’s another to open the door and strut on in, blast the music a bit, settle into a comfy chair, or completely rearrange the furniture. No sitting on the sidelines (or outside and across the street) with poetry. That’s why Inside Out also includes nine Insider Exercises based on the previous poems.

Here are some teasers:

After reading the poem “Getting Ready with Iambic,” have your students try their hand at writing one line in iambic pentameter. Start a silly competition. Here’s a line to get you started: Do not forget to wash the bathtub out!

Ask your students to write similes for eating spaghetti, watching a scary movie, or hitting a home run. What about that noise a cat makes when she’s really happy? Describe that using a simile or metaphor. Need help? See the poem “Simile explains Metaphor.”

After reading the poem “Tug of War between Concrete and Abstract,” have everyone write down one abstract word (something that you cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or touch—like joy, democracy, freedom, anger). Put the words into a bag. Have each student pick a word and, without telling anyone what the word is, write a poem describing that word. What animal is it? What does it sound like? What is it, well, like? The catch? When writing their poems, students cannot use the abstract word they picked from the bag. Next, have them then read their poems aloud. See if anyone can guess the abstract word. No peeking allowed!

Ready for some more ideas? Me, too! All of these exercises can be adapted easily for remote learning. Leave the door open (virtually or otherwise) and invite your students and friends inside the poem. I’ll get the popcorn—and some extra paper and pencils. Stay as long as you like. After all, it’s fun in here, and I’m already enjoying your company.

Published March 31st, 2020

Marjorie Maddox knows poetry. If I had to pick one book to introduce students to the joy of writing poems, this would be it. Maddox creates a book full of original poems to show us the inside out of every kind of poem you could ever want to write. I dare you to read a page or two without reaching for your pen and composing a poem of your own. From alliteration to sonnets and the villanelle, Marjorie Maddox makes metaphors meaningful and memorable.
—Charles Ghigna – FatherGoose®

It is clear that Marjorie Maddox loves poetry and loves her audience. The poems of the book—“How to Write a Villanelle,” “How to Touch a Poem,” to name two—illustrate the topics. For instance, “How to Touch a Poem” starts with “Forget distance or that anemic wave / you save for mere acquaintances and great aunts.” Sometimes people may not write poetry because they don’t know how to approach it, and Maddox removes the barriers. If you have ever thought about writing poetry and needed concrete tips, this is the book for you.
—Kim Bridgford, editor, Mezzo Cammin

Inside Out … combines original poetry with inviting activities to guide young people in writing poetry themselves. More than two dozen inventive poems present key concepts, elements, and forms of poetry, each … accessible and engaging. For example, her poem, “Simile Explains Metaphor,” cleverly uses the teen-speak of “like” to illustrate how similes and metaphors work in just six lines. Puns, paradoxes, and alliteration, as well as clerihews, acrostics, and sonnets are all presented in pithy poems that provide a laser focus on the poetic element being introduced. Then Maddox offers nine in-depth “insider exercises” grounded in the previous poems with helpful steps and fun challenges for young writers. It’s a unique combination of playful poems about poetry and crackerjack exercises for aspiring writers.
— Sylvia Vardell, author of Poetry Aloud Here! and co-editor of the Poetry Friday anthologies with Janet Wong

About the Author: Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist); Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); four children’s and YA books—including  Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Readiing Poems with Insider Exercises and A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry, Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems , I’m Feeling Blue, Too!, Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. She is the great grandniece of Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who helped break the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball. The chair of the jury of judges for the 2020 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Book Award, she gives readings and workshops around the country. For more information, please see www.marjoriemaddox.com

Thank you, Marjorie! Poetry is often tough in classrooms, so this is such an in with all students! 

Review and Giveaway!: Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence by Jacqueline Jules, Illustrated by Iris Deppe

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Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence
Author: Jacqueline Jules
Illustrator: Iris Deppe
Published April 1st, 2020 by Albert Whitman & Company

Summary: Whether just trying out for the team or reaching for the Olympics, there’s something for every reader in this playful poetry collection! From baseball, basketball, and football to double-dutch, mini-golf, and turning a cartwheel, these poems look at facing fears, dreaming big, and never giving up. This well-rounded collection explores sports and play across all abilities and backgrounds.

About the Author: Jacqueline Jules has been writing poems since middle school. Her poetry has been published in over a hundred publications. She is also the author of more than forty books for young readers, including the Zapato Power series, the Sofia Martinez series, and Duck for Turkey Day. She lives in northern Virginia and enjoys giving poetry workshops to students, teachers, and anyone else who loves poetry as much as she does. To learn more, and to download free classroom materials, visit her online at jacquelinejules.com.

Praise: 

“Jules presents a plethora of possibilities as the theme of children at play provides the structure for a collection of poems that encourage and applaud. . . . Fun and games, with something deeper to think about.” —Kirkus

“If you are looking for lighthearted, joyous, and youthful poems about childhood, this is the perfect selection for your bookshelves.” —Booklist

Review: Happy National Poetry Month! To celebrate, I knew I had to highlight this wonderful poetry book for two reasons:

1) It combines playing and poetry which will help with the engagement of reading poetry. It also teaches great lessons.

2) During this time of sheltering in place, play and persistence are both things we definitely need to encourage!

Jacqueline Jules does such a fantastic job with adapting each poem to the activity she is writing about and the fun illustrations by Iris Deppe bring the play to life. This is a poem book I recommend specifically now but also for all classrooms to use and have to explore this playful poetry.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: While Jules’s book represents many playground and outdoor activities, it doesn’t include everything. Have students write their own poems of play about the activity they love to do the most. To challenge them, ask them to put a conflict in the poem that must be overcome, so the poem includes a lesson of persistence.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Pick one of the activities written about that you have never done (that is reasonable to do). Do it then write a journal reflecting what it was like–maybe even try writing a poem about it!
  • Find examples of figurative language, such as imagery or personification, in one of Jules’s poems.
  • Which poem’s activity did you connect with the most?
  • Which poem’s lesson did you connect with the most?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Poetry, Sports

Recommended For: 

 

Giveaway!: 

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**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review and giveaway!**

H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z by Sydell Rosenberg

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H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z
Author: Sydell Rosenberg
Illustrator: Sawsan Chalabi
Published April 10, 2018 by Penny Candy Books

Summary: In H Is For Haiku the late poet Rosenberg, a charter member of the Haiku Society of America and a New York City public school teacher, and illustrator Chalabi offer an A-Z compendium of haiku that brings out the fun and poetry in everyday moments.

H Is For Haiku introduces young readers to the short Japanese poetic form of haiku and includes helpful notes by the author’s daughter as well as by the author herself.

About the Creators: 

Sydell Rosenberg (1929-1996) lived, wrote and taught in New York City. Syd was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America in 1968 and served as HSA’s Secretary in 1975. Her short poems – notably haiku and senryu – as well as other poetry, were published in various magazines and anthologies. Syd received her M.A. in English as a Second Language from Hunter College in 1972. It was Syd’s dream to publish a book of haiku for children.

Sawsan Chalabi is a Lebanese-American illustrator and designer. She earned her MFA in Illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design. When she is not at her computer making digital illustrations, she can be found in her studio getting messy with inks and paint. Her work has been published with several magazines and publishing houses such as Cricket Magazine, Bust Magazine, Wine & Spirits Magazine, Applied Arts Magazine, Penguin, and Lee & Low Books, among others. She currently resides in Washington, D.C. where she continues to explore the power in the silent communication of art.

Praise for the Title:

Book Riot’s 2018 list of kids’ poetry: https://bookriot.com/2019/04/05/poetry-books-for-kids/

“2019 Notable Poetry Book” from The National Council for Teachers

Cybils awards finalist in the poetry category

Review: A wonderful text full of examples of haiku that follow the traditional rhythm and themes of the style. The imagery the author brings along with the colorful and fun-filled illustrations makes the book one that will bring enjoyment to the reading of poetry.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Perfect for

More information for teaching ideas: https://teachersandwritersmagazine.org/making-small-moments-big-teaching-haiku-with-sydell-rosenberg-5594.htm 

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Poetry, Haiku

Recommended For: 

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Teaching Tuesday: A Virtual Book Signing with Alice Faye Duncan

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A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks
Author: Alice Faye Duncan
Illustrator: Xia Gordon
Published January 1st, 2019 by Sterling Children’s Books

Summary: “The combination of biography and Brooks’ own poems makes for a strong, useful, and beautiful text . . . A solid introduction to a brilliant writer”—Kirkus.

Acclaimed writer Alice Faye Duncan tells the story of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize.

SING a song for Gwendolyn Brooks.
Sing it loud—a Chicago blues.

With a voice both wise and witty, Gwendolyn Brooks crafted poems that captured the urban Black experience and the role of women in society. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago, reading and writing constantly from a young age, her talent lovingly nurtured by her parents. Brooks ultimately published 20 books of poetry, two autobiographies, and one novel. Alice Faye Duncan has created her own song to celebrate Gwendolyn’s life and work, illuminating the tireless struggle of revision and the sweet reward of success.

A Message from Alice Faye Duncan: 

“Dear Teachers and Librarians:

Welcome to my FIRST virtual book signing. In this media presentation you will see AND hear me read my new book A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks. It is the poet’s biography told in 9 short poems. Gwendolyn Brooks and her pursuit of words is lesson in audacity, tenacity and victory.  Her life is a journey that young readers can use to navigate this trying world.”

About Alice Faye Duncan: Alice Faye Duncan writes books for young readers and adults. HONEY BABY SUGAR CHILD is a mother’s love song to her baby. The lyrical text sings and swings just like music. One must read it aloud with LOVE, JOY and SOUL!

MEMPHIS, MARTIN AND THE MOUNTAINTOP (The 1968 Sanitation Strike) is a lyrical combination of poetry and prose that explores Dr. King’s assassination and his last stand for economic justice in the city of Memphis. The illustrator is Caldecott Honor recipient, Gregory Christie.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN TENNESSEE is a child’s travel guide across the Volunteer State (GO VOLS!). Two cousins in ugly holiday sweaters visit important landmarks throughout the state, while traveling in a mini-van called the “Reindeer Express.” The illustrator is Mary Uhles.

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS will debut in January 2019. This is the first picture book biography to explore the life and times of Chicago poet–Gwendolyn Brooks. In 1950, Miss Brooks was the first African American writer to receive a Pulitzer Prize.

Have you heard the name, “Pinkney?” Alice’s book–JUST LIKE A MAMA will make its debut on Mother’s Day (2019). The illustrator is Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. Her grand father is Caldecott illustrator, Jerry Pinkney. Charnelle is a master artist too. Get ready to be charmed with impressive images and a lyrical text.

Thank you so much to Alice Faye Duncan for sharing this amazing reading with us! The Virtual Book Signing, more about Alice and her books, and FREE LESSON PLANS for her books can all be found on her website: https://alicefayeduncan.com/.

Leaf Litter Critters by Leslie Bulion

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Leaf Litter Critters
Author: Leslie Bulion
Illustrator: Robert Meganck
Published March 8th, 2018 by Peachtree Publishers

Summary: Have fun on this poetic tour through the leaf litter layer and dig into the fascinating facts about the tiny critters who live there. Nineteen poems in a variety of verse forms with accompanying science notes take readers on a decomposer safari through the “brown food web,” from bacteria through tardigrades and on to rove beetle predators with other busy recyclers in-between. 

Zooming into the thin layer of decaying leaves, plant parts, and soil beneath our feet, Leaf Litter Critters digs into fascinating information about the world of decomposers–from the common earthworm to the amazing tardigarde.

Written in various poetic forms, acclaimed science poet and award-winning author Leslie Bulion combines intriguing scientific details with fun wordplay to create a collection of nonfiction verses amusing for all readers. Vibrant and entertaining artwork by distinguished illustrator Rober Meganck adds to the humor of each poem.

Perfect for cross curricular learning, Leaf Litter Critters has extensive back matter, including both science notes about each critter and poetry notes about each poetic form, as well as a glossary, hands-on activities, and additional resources for curious readers to further their investigations. It’s also a great read-aloud for Earth Day and beyond.

* “The poems are expertly crafted in a variety of forms (identified in the backmatter). The language is lively and the imagery appropriate. With alliteration, internal rhymes, and careful rhythm, these will be a delight to read aloud and learn…. Meganck’s engaging digital drawings give each creature pop-eyes and attitude…. A delightful, memorable introduction to an unsung ecosystem.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Bulion stuffs her poems with scientific detail and puts even more into accompanying “science notes.” Meganck’s cartoons strike sillier notes…balancing all of the information Bulion provides with hefty doses of fun.” —Publishers Weekly

Review & Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I cannot wait to give this to my mentee who is a sixth grade science teacher who has a BS in biology–she is going to love this so much! And if I was an upper elementary teacher, I would love to use this text as a cross-curricular text during a poetry and biology unit. Not only did it teach me SO much about these amazing creatures that do weird and truly astonishing things, it goes through all the different types of poetry shared to ensure that the book isn’t just science nor poetry centered. I think the author did a beautiful job making sure that each spread had a wonderful poem and a deep science explanation just in case the poem doesn’t clarify anything. Additionally, the back matter includes investigative activities, a glossary, and more science information that would all be incredible assets to a classroom! I really cannot say enough how well the book is crafted for the purpose it was created for.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How is each creature in the leaf litter layer important?
  • How did the illustrator use a pin to help you see the size of each critter on pages 54-55?
  • Write your own poem about one of the creatures that you learned about using whatever poetic style you choose.
  • How did the science notes on each page assist you in understanding the creature that was shared on each spread?
  • Which of the poetic forms/styles did you enjoy the most? Why?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Biology, Poetry, Science

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Elyse at Peachtree for providing a copy for review!!**

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth

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nfpb2017

Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
Authors: Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth
Illustrator: Ekua Holmes
Published March 14th, 2017 by Candlewick Press

Summary: Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award–winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.

A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Honoree offer a glorious, lyrical ode to poets who have sparked a sense of wonder.

Review: This anthology is beautiful. Alexander, Colderley, and Wentworth beautifully pay homage to each poet. Their tribute poems are impeccably written and not only do the poems follow the style of the poet but also teach us about the lives of the poet. And Holmes’s artwork pushes the book to another level. I also adored the diversity of the poets, as well as the types of poems, chosen.

And Out of Wonder can definitely be a perfect mentor text for a poetry unit, and I can definitely see it being paired with Love That Dog to expand what Creech started.

Teaching Guide with Prereading Activities, Discussion Questions, and Classroom Extensions (by teacher Mary Lee Hahn): 

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech; Poetry by any of the poets honored in the book: Naomi Shihab Nye, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Bashō, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, Walter Dean Myers, Emily Dickinson, Terrance Hayes, Billy Collins, Pablo Neruda, Judith Wright, Mary Oliver, Cwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, William Carlos Williams, Okot p’Bitek, Chief Dan George, Rumi, or Maya Angelou

Recommended For: 

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