Sunday, June 14, 2009


FALLING DOWN THE PAGE: A BOOK OF LIST POEMS edited by Georgia Heard (Roaring Brook)

Tap your toes on the tabletop,
listen for the right rhythm
then dance a poem
across the page.

- From "Things To Do If You Are a Pencil" by Elaine Magliaro

There are so many poems that dance their way down (if not across) these pages in this collection of list-making verse that is both succinct and sublime. Avis Harley offers a multilingual list of "Ways to Greet a Friend," while J. Patrick Lewis's "What is Earth?" is so lovely, it will catch your heart in your throat like a butterfly in a net. David Harrison's "Chorus for Four Frogs" invites many readers to lend a poetic voice at once, and Rebecca Kai Dotlich's "On the Menu for a School Day" warrants a full's a poem worthy of dedication of a whole school wall. This anthologist checked every box on her to-do list; not since Kenneth Koch's WISHES, LIES AND DREAMS has there been such an inspiring set of writing springboards, or more accessible models of beautiful descriptive and figurative language. By the last vertical page, besides having more new favorite poems than they can list, children will have pieces of what it takes to make something pleasing and all their own, just like in Eileen Spinelli's poem "Creativity": "Perhaps you have:/a shard of plate/a hinge from someone's/garden gate/a scrap of quilt/or rusty screw.../then you can be/an artist too." (7 and up)

Also of interest:
It's summer(ish). Gather ye poetry rosebuds while ye may.

THE CUCKOO'S HAIKU AND OTHER BIRDING POEMS by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows (Candlewick) As a city girl, I remember learning names of plants and animals via "Golden" books my parents would bring home for me, which had perforated full-color stamps you would lick and place on the corresponding pages, and then, lo and behold, you would have a scrapbook of sorts, full of all sorts of interesting wildlife that you may not see every day but could come to recognize by reviewing the realistic artwork. This book reminded me of that, only with words as wonderful as the pictures. Part poetry collection, part naturalist's guide, this book will take you birding with new eyes, looking at cardinals "paired like red quotation marks," see blue notes inked on a musical staff of telephone wires, observe finches stacked like coins at a feeder, or miraculously view
blooming apple tree
round and white as one peeled fruit
crow-seeds at its core
Gorgeous and graceful watercolors with dynamic page placement add a whole other facet of accomplishment to an already distinctive title. Arranged by season and with informative endnotes, this book is built as completely as a nest in summer. Like a bird with a new call, you may find yourself at the end of this book singing, "How?" "How?" By caring about creating a fine, smart book for children, that's how. Wow. (7 and up)

CITY I LOVE by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Marcellus Hall (Abrams) Listen to the plea of a mother pigeon to rumbling roar of traffic below the eaves, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the myriad of interesting strangers in a subway car, this big city trip in a book takes readers across the continents. We have here a seasoned poet in fine form, and sleek brushwork illustrations add to this title's savvy. (5 and up)

Other links of interest to children's booklovers:
- One author really knows how to throw a cyber-launch! Cynthia Liu has her intermediate fiction debut with PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE, and is using the occasion to host a fabulous auction, contest and giveaway, proceeds of which will go to the good cause of funding reading fun at a school that could use a hand in Oklahoma. "Take the dare, show you care!"
- Who says dreams don't come true? Fairy and folk tales from around the globe spring to life from the sand in the eye-popping World Sand Sculpture Festival. Looky looky! And while you're on the site, check out the book-reading robot. Well. Getting great books into the hands of great children still comes first, but then, I guess it's on to the robots! A librarian's work is never done.
- Hope you have some wiggle room in your summer plans, because a new museum dedicated to the work of Hergé has just opened up in Brussels! Graphic novel lovers rejoice, and visit vicariously!
- Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) in June is even better than Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) in July! Sign a petition to influence the U.S. Postal Service to create a stamp to commemorate Ezra Jack Keats' THE SNOWY DAY! Thanks to Kathy Larkin for sharing.

On a personal note:
Hooray for my son Russell, for turning fourteen, for graduating eighth grade and surviving all the horrible tests, for going off to overnight camp for the first time, and for watching Fiddler on the Roof with me, even though it was over three hours. What a guy.

Also wish to give kudos to Burley Elementary School for a fine graduation ceremony. The tradition of singing "Let There Be Peace on Earth, And Let It Begin With Me" was truly moving. The fact that my son was able to attend this marvelous public school was a blessing in the life of my family. Anyone who thinks Chicago schools don't work needs to meet Ms. Kent and Ms. Cunat, two of the most dedicated, loving and well-spoken school leaders I have ever met. With a great literature-based curriculum and teachers who always gave 110% to exemplify best practices, we could not have asked for more and only wish we had found it sooner. Thanks again, Burley Friends!

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.
More Esmé stuff at


Kate Coombs said...

Thanks for the sand sculptures link--wow! Also for the poetry picks. I'm always looking for great new poetry books. And congrats to Russell, as well. (Russell Codell sounds like a book character. Apropros.)

--Book Aunt

Nicole Feliciano said...

I found you from the School Library Journal blog. I wanted to share that this month I am devoting my blogs to books. Many of my picks are Children's Books, others are devoted to parents. Plus, I've got great contests and exclusive interviews, such as this one with Mo Willems:

I hope you will stop by!

teacherninja said...

Wonderful, as usual. Can't wait to share these with my kids as soon as school gets back in!

Fear Death By Water said...

hello -- love your blog and enjoy reading your books. uhumm ... on a personal note... look out

just sayin. and keep up the good work.



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