Document 61918

the Classics
15 Classics of
Contemporary Poetry
hy Sylvia M. Vardell
Elementary school through middle school
id you know that fewer poetry
books are published than
books in any
othet genre of childtens
literature? Depending on
how you di:i\nc poetry, approximately 50 poetry titles
are published each year.
Poetry books also go out of
print quickly, so it's wise to
purchase multiple copies
because popular poetry
books often disappear off
the shelves. If we want to
have the classics of tomorrow, we need
to be aggressive about seeking out
poetry for children today.
Within the
last 15 years,
the Academy of
American Poets
the work of such poets as Douglas
Florian, Paul B. Janeczko, Kristine
O'Connell George, Janet
Wong, Pat Mora, and Nikki
Grimes. Until then, here
is a mini-library of classic
children's poetry for reading
aloud, reading alone, and
reading a lot.
Ciardi, John. You Read to
Me, I'll Read to You. IWus. hy
Edward Gorey. 1962. 64p. HarperFrophy, paper, $7.99
Gr. 1-4. Much of
today's contemporary humorous poetry for children owes a debt to John
Ciardi. This collection of
35 poems includes directions for two readers to
the observance
share reading the poems,
of National
Poetry Month to the text and illustrations
appearing in alternatcelebrate poetry
ing colors of black and
and its place in
navy blue. One of the
American culture, and the Children's
most popular children's poems of al!
Book C>ouncil followed with initiattime, according to surveys
ing Young People's Poetry
olchildren's preferences,
Week. It's a good time to
all the small pocm» appears in this collection:
pause and look back at
and fourteen more "Mummy Slept Late and
poetry books that have
Daddy Fixed Breakfast."
shaped out practice. Happy ^^Hkk mh
irreverent poanniversary. Book Links'. To
commemorate this publicaGorey's
tion milestone, here are 15
illustrations. These smart
classic gems of poetry for
rhymes and their zany
children. The next anniverpicture
partners helped to
sary list will surely include
Book Links
pave the way for
Shel Silverstein,
Jack Prelutsky,
J f t * T ••'•
and even J.
Patrick Lewis
and Douglas
Florian in the
years to follow. jwii?..,, ^ r ^ i
Frost, Robert.
Stopping by
Woods on a Snowy Evening. Illus. by
Susan leffers. 1978; reissued 2001.'
32p. button, $15.99 (0-52546734-3).
Gr. 2-up. Jeffers' wintry scenes ofa
snowy landscape offer a strong visual
interpretation of Frost's
classic poem, which is
spread out line by line or
in pairs of lines across the
Humorou5, thought-provoking,
and illuminating, these classic
poetry collections have something
for every reader: The Dream
Keeper and Other Poems by
Langston Hughes, The Random
House Book of Poetry for Children,
Hailstones and Halibut Bones by
Mary O'Neill, If I Were in Charge
of the World and Other Worries
by Judith Viorst, and All the Small
Poems and Fourteen More by
Valerie Worth.
32-page picture book, showcasing a
new approach to poetry books—one
book, one poem. It's a model that
older readers might emulate as they
interpret classic poems through their
own original illustrations, and it helps
all of us experience a familiar poem
in a tresh way. The reissued edition
features a new design and three new
spreads, and Jeffers has added more
detail and subtle color to her sweeping New England scenes throughout
the book.
Cireenfield, Eloise. Honey, I Love and
Other Love Poems. Illus. by Leo Dillon
and Diane Dillon. 1978. 48p. HarperCollins. $14.99 (0-690-01334-5);
HarperTrophy, paper, $5.99 (0-06443097-9).
Gr. 2-6. Billed as Greenfield's
•'first collection of poems," this popukir Reading Rainbow book is also
an amazing masterpiece from a poet
who captures tbe unique dimensions
of the African American experience
(such as in her homage "Harriet Tubman"), while also tapping into the
universal experiences ot childhood
(expressed in tbe wondering poem
"By Myselt")- From its small trim
size to tbe Dillons' inviting black,
white, and gold illustrations, these
16 short poems capture feelings of
love, grief, pride, and pleasure—all
from the point of view of a child.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Good Books,
(iood Times: Original Poems. Illus.
by F-Iarvey Stevenson. 1990. 32p.
HarperTrophy, paper, $6.99 (0-06446222-6).
Gr. 1-5. As a master anthologist
with more than 100 poetry collections to his credit, it is difficult to
"Robert Louis Stevenson's A CbM% Garden of Verses was not only a
favorite as a child but one 1 have returned to time and again throughout
my life.'My Shadow,' The Swing,' 'My Ship and I,' and other poems were
steadfast companions, nourishing my imagination, enriching my days, and
encouraging me later in life to explore other poets and otber poems."
—Barbara Elfeman
choose only one Hopkins anthology
to highlight, but this is one of my
favorites. What teacher, parent, or
librarian doesn't relish emphasizing the joys of reading for children
who are still learning the process?
This thematic collection is organized
around that topic, and it includes
Hopkins' own ott-shared poem
"Good Books, Good Times." Golorful double-page cartoon illustrations
add zest to the sharing.
Hughes, Langston. The Dream Keeper
and Other Poems. Illus. by Brian
Pinkney. 1932; reissued 1996. 96p.
Knopf, paper, $8.99 (0^67988347-9).
Gr. 3-up. Hughes' only collection of poetry specifically for young
people includes many now-classic
poems, such as "Dreams," "Mother
to Son," "Youth," and "I, Too." Each
poem is placed perfectly on the page,
many accompanied by Pinkney's
distinctive black-and-white scratchboard illustrations contained witbin
pleasing circles and ovals. With a
new introduction by Lee Bennett
Hopkins and "A Personal Note" by
Augusta Baker, these 59 timeless
poems range from narrative to lyrical, encompassing topics from racial
uplift to personal loss.
"I loved animal stories as a child ... Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight,
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
But my favorite book was
A. A. Milne's NowWeAre Six. I memorized many of those wonderful
poems, and I although these days I occasionally forget wbere I put my
car keys, I can still recite a few of Milne's verses." —Stephanie Zvirin
Book Links
A Jar of Tiny Stars: Poems by NCTF
Award-Winning Poets. Edited by Bernice Cullinan. Illus. by Andi Macleod
and Marc Nadel. 1996. 112p. Boyds
Mills/Wordsong, $17.95 (1-56397087-2).
Gr. 2-5. If you're looking for one
place to find 10 of the biggest names
in poetry. Ajar of Tiny Stars will
fill the bill. This anthology gathers
the work of David McGord, Aileen
Fisher, Karla Kuskin, Myra Cohn Livingston, Eve Merriam, John Ciardi,
Lilian Moore, Arnold Adoff, Valerie
Worth, and Barbara Esbensen, all
recipients of the National Council of
Teachers of English (NCTE) Award
for Excellence in Poetry for Children,
a lifetime achievement award. Many
of these poets' best-known poems appear here, including McCord's "The
Pickety Fence" and Kuskin's "1 Woke
up This Morning." In addition, tbere
is a mini-portrait and a quote trom
eacb poet, with an "About the Poets"
section offering additional quotes and
brief biographies—especially helptul
material for the aspiring poet.
Kuskin, Karla. Dogs and Dragons, Trees
and Dreams: A Collection ofPoems.
1980. 96p. HarperCollins, o.p.
Gr. 3—6. Kuskin is one of my
favorite poets, but in my opinion she
is not tbe household name she should
be. Her playful, witty poems include
"Bugs," "Write about a Radish," "I
Woke up This Morning," and "Hughbert and the Glue." Although several
of these are included in ber newer
collection, Moon, Have You Met My
Mother? The Collected Poems of Karla
Kuskin (HarperCollins/Laura Geringer, 2003), my favorite anthology is
jicili Dogs and Dragons, a collection of
her poems written from 1958 to 1975,
now out of print, but so worth the
hunt. Ft includes hrief poetic asides in
italics above the titles of many poems,
offering sage advice for die aspiritig
writer. Delicate ink sketches by Kuskin
hcrselfappear strategically on die line
that underlines each poem's tide.
Livingston, Myra Cohn. Festivals. Illus. by Leonard Everett Fisher. 1996.
32p. Holiday, $17.95 (0-82341217-2).
K-Gr. 4. One of the most influential people in the field of children's
poetry is Myra Cohn Livingston—
poet, anthologist, critic, and mentor
oi a generation of poets. Which of her
collections to choose? Festivals is one
of her most popular collections, with
a thematic connection that teachers,
librarians, and parents can refer to
when special occasions and events beg
for a fitting poem. In addition, this
work is a prime example of the power
illustrations can have in bringing a
beautiful poem to life, as demonstrated by Fishers vivid, full-color, fullpage paintings that accompany the
lovely, lyrical language of Livingstons
poetry. Fair this with her earlier collection. Celebrations (Ho\id;iy, 1985).
McCord, David. Every Time I Climb
a Tree. Illus. by Marc Simont. 1967.
32p, Little, Brown, paper, $5.95
Gr. 2-5. As the first recipient of
the NCTE Award for Excellence in
Poetry for Children, McCord set the
bar high for craftsmanship in poetry
for young people, and this collection
is both engaging and enduring. In
poems such as the title poem, "Every Time I Climb a Tree," as well as
"The Pickety Fence" and "Bananas
and Cream," children will continue
to find pleasure in McCords use
of sound, syncopation, wordplay,
and wonder. And Simont's colorful
paintings perfectly extend but don't
overwhelm the 25 poems themselves.
O'Neill, Mary. Hailstones and Halibut
Bones: Adventures in Color. Illus. by
John Wallner. 1961; reissued 1989.
64p. Doubleday, $15.95 (0-38524484-3); paper, S9.95 (0-38541078-6).
Gr. 2-up. In this collection of 12
color poems, O'Neill offers a poetic exploration of the tangible and
intangible ways we might view purple,
gold, black, brown, blue, gray, white,
orange, red, pink, green, and yellow.
For each poem's title she poses the
question "What is . . . ?" and answers
it with a listlike rhyming poem that includes objects of the designated color,
but goes on to surest sounds, tastes,
smells, and feelings also evoked by the
color. Illustrated with color montages
by Leonard Weisgard in 1961 and later
reissued with Wiillners illustrations.
Hailstones offers children a template
for the ways that poems can portray
images and sensory experiences.
Prelutsky, Jack. The New Kid on the
Block. Illus. by James Stevenson.
1984. l60p. Greenwillow, $17.99
G r 1-5. Since the publication of
**My mother had an old, worn copy of The Little Fish That Got Away by
Bernadine Cook, and I read it over and over until it fell apart.This little
boy waited day after day after day to catch a fish until his patience and
faith—both of which I had a shortage of—paid off! Crockett Johnson's
illustrations kept me enthralied with their simpiicity and meaning. I was
delighted when this book was recently reissued so more children can
find this wonderfui classic story." —Cyndi Gorgis
B o o k L i nks
New Kid, Prelutsky has become so
prolific and popular that he rivals
Shel Silverstein for name recognition in the field of children's poetry.
This collection of more than 100
poems, however, is one of his most
enduring, containing many of kids'
favorites, including "Homework, Oh
Homework," "Bleezer's Ice Cream,"
"Euphonica Jarre," and "Jellyfish
Stew.' Stevenson's comic illustrations are the ideal accompaniment
to the zany character of the verses.
An audio version featuring Prelutsky
performing many of these poems is
also available.
The Random House Book of Poetry for
Children. Selected by Jack Prelutskv'.
Ilius. by Arnold Lobel. 1983. 256p.
Random, $19.95 (0-394-85010-6).
K-^r. 6. With more than a halfmillion copies in print, this comprehensive antholog)' has become a
staple. Its more than 500 poems are
organized into 14 broad sections including nature, seasons, animals, cities, home, self, nonsense, and more.
The variety of poets is still impressive,
including classic and anonymous
authors from Emily Dickinson to
Dennis Lee, and the selections range
from playground verse to more serious fare. Illustrations by Caldecort
medalist Lobel abound on every page,
executed in color and sepia tones or
monochromatic green shades and always perfectly placed and uncrowded,
even with as many as four poems on a
page. Several helpfijl indexes make it
easier to find and choose just the right
Silverstein, Shel. Whetv the Sidewalk
Ends: The Poems and Drawings of
Shel Silverstein. 1974; reissued 2004.
192p. HarperCollins, $17.99 (0-06057234-5). Also available in an audio
Gr. 2—6. Who has not heard of
Shel Silverstein? His first poetry
antholog}', published in 1974, sold
more than four million copies to
become the best-selling children's
"When I was growing up in a small town, a young couple lived in an
'Iftment above us. Irene was my school's beloved art teacber, wbile
k r d spent some post-army time alone at an easel.'So bas Mr. Sample
B lob yet?' I remember people asking well before I picked up on tbe
•ue-clicking tone. Ricbard Sample died too young, and my dad. asked
Keak at his funeral, cbose to read The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.
Bourse, I'll always love tbat flower-smelling bull and a man who painted
lures whetber or not anyone else wanted to look." —-jeannine Atkins
poetry book ever. Why? His humor
is often over the top and doesn't shy
away from the silly, gross, disgusting,
or taboo. Many children's favorites
can be found here among tbe more
than 100 poems, including "Sarah
Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take
tbe Garbage Out," "Boa Constrictor,' "Eighteen Flavors," and "Smart."
Silverstein is also one of the few
poets whose own hilarious pen-andink drawings accompany his words,
another source of his popularity. The
thirtieth anniversary edition includes
a CD recording in Silverstein's own
gravelly voice, as well as 12 additional
in such clever categories as "Cats
and Other People" and "Thanks
and No Thanks," and include many
favorites, such as the title poem,
"If I Were in Charge of the World"
as well as "Mother Doesn't Want a
Dog" and "Teddy Bear Poem." In
contrast to the sardonic tone oftbe
poetry, Cherry's illustrations echo
the classic style of Walter Crane,
featuring cbildren in ornate framed
for 2006 at
live Oak Media?
Stop by Booth 1132 at
ALA and Hnd out!
By Jack Gantos; read by tfie author
By Denys Cazeti read by Barbara Ca<uso
By Vera Rosenberry; read by Laura Hamilton
Worth. Valerie. All the Small Poems
and Fourteen More. Illus. by Natalie
Babbitt. 1996. 208p. Farrar/Sunburst,
paper, $7.95 (0-374-40345-7).
Gr. 3—up. Beginning with her first
published in 1972, Valerie
Viorst, Judith, fff Were in Charge of
beautiful, spartan,
the World and Other Worries: Poems for
for children used
Children and Their Parents. Illus. by
rhyme. Here all of
Lynne Cherry. 1981. 64p. Simon &
in her four
Schuster/Atheneum, $17.95
(0-689-30863-9); Aladdin, paper,
Gr. 3-6. Viorst may be best
variety of ordinary subjects—garbage,
known for her picture books, esclock, safety pin, Iawnmower, magpecially Alexander and the Terrible,
Horrible, No Cood, Very Bad Day (Si- net, library, and coat hangers—^with
extraordinary freshness and precimon & Schuster/Atheneum, 1972),
sion. Accompanying each poem is a
but her poetry anthologies for chilperfectly placed pen-and-ink sketch
dren frequently top lists of children's
by Natalie Babbitt, a notable author
favorites. In particular, this collecin her own right.
tion refiects that same \ron\z Alexander sensibility that acknowledges
Sylvia M. Vardell is a professor of children's
bow children have very little conand young adulc literarure at Texas Woman's
trol over tbeir world and thus have
University. She is the author o^Poetry Abud
many woes and worries. The more
Here! Sharing Poetry with Children in the
than 40 wry poems are organized
Library fALA Edicions, 2006).
Coming in Fall 2006
By Jack Gantos; read by the author
By Mordicai Gerstein; read by the author
By Sarah Stewart; illustratsd by David Small
By Alison McGheGi illustrated by Marry Bliss
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