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April Showers...of Poems

April Showers...of Poems

by
Kate Marley

They are wordsongs that come fluttering from the pages, enchanting us with their light and beauty. They can also be spears, stabbing us in vulnerable places, making us remember the pain and embarrassment we thought tucked away. They might be like soap bubbles, making us laugh just for the sheer joy of laughing. Sometimes these wordsongs are like an unsuspected sermon, that inspires us to an unspoken resolve to do it better, next time. Poetry is all this, and more, with the rhythm of language presented in a whole new package. Explore it with your child.


PICTURE BOOKS

Morning, Noon, and Night : Poems to Fill Your Day selected by Sharon Taberski. c 1996, Mondo Publishing.
This was a really neat collection of poems that follows, roughly, the daily routine of a little kid. The poems were fun without being fluffy, and the bright collage artwork by Nancy Doniger is a perfect compliment to the upbeat nature of this book.

You and Me : Poems of Friendship selected and illustrated by Salley Mavor. c 1997, Orchard Books.
Not only is this a great selection of friendship poems, but the artwork is just stunning! She calls it fabric relief, and the 3-D effect is pretty cool, while the colors and details are just plain impressive. This is a great lap book, for sharing and poring over again and again.

Cactus Poems by Frank Asch. c 1998, Harcourt Brace.
What happens when a Vermont man immerses himself into a new and different landscape with new animals and plants? He discovers that the desert is not the drab, lifeless place he imagined, and with the help of great color photos by Ted Levin, invites readers to share the joy of discovery.

One, Two, Skip A Few . illustrated by Roberta Arenson. c 1998, Barefoot Books.
Parents and educators of preschoolers will like this book of counting poems, which includes some old favorites as well as some clever new ones I had never heard. The colorful, multicultural collage of children will be a big hit too.




TRANSITIONAL BOOKS

Home: A Journey Through America . compiled and illustrated by Thomas Locker. c 1998, Harcourt Brace.
What is home to you? The high hills and mountains, the deep desert, or the rumbling shore? The artist has gathered poetry (and a few pieces of prose) from some well known writers and illustrated them in his usual stunning fashion.

Purchase of Small Secrets . by David L. Harrison. c 1998, Boyds Mills Press.
A childís joys and activities of the small towns and country dwellers of America are lovingly depicted in this book. Watching critters at the local stream, learning about horses and hunting, and of life not dependent on malls, TV or video games - city folks may think this outdated but there really are many children who still live this way. Quiet black and white illustrations by Meryl Henderson also go with the flow.

Miles of Smiles . edited by Bruce Lansky. c 1998, Meadowbrook Press.
This is the third installment of a series compiled by Mr. Lansky called "Kids Pick The Funniest Poems". Selected, I am sure, with the quirky humor of the elementary school crowd, they are, really, a bunch of amusing verse that kids will enjoy reading aloud. Black and white cartoonish illustrations by Stephen Carpenter suit the mood and style.

Beauty of the Beast selected by Jack Prelutsky. c 1997, Random House.
The beauty here is of the words coupled with the expressive watercolors by Meilo So. Poems about all kinds of animals, from the unlikely (earthworms, jellyfish and skunks) to the old standbys (dogs, horses and lions) abound. Itís a wonderfully enjoyable book, with poems gathered from over sixty writers - and did I mention the beautiful artwork?

Kidsí Magnetic Poetry by Dave Kapell & Sally Steenland. c 1998, Workman Publishing.
Hereís a neat way to encourage kids to write their own poetry - even the reluctant ones will find this easy! Thereís a booklet attached, with some really good guidelines, but the main attraction for the kids will be the many words supplied on detachable magnetic strips that can be shuffled and rearranged to suit the youngster. It makes self expression easy for everyone.



FOR OLDER READERS

The Other Side: Shorter Poems . By Angela Johnson. c 1998, Orchard Books.
There was once a small town called Shorter, Alabama, where the author grew up, and this collection is about those people and places in Shorter that linger in her memory. Itís a small book, with short but powerful poems about growing up and away, but never apart.

Walking on the Boundaries of Change . by Sara Holbrook. c 1998, Boyds Mills Press.
These "poems of transition are short but powerful expressions of the tremendous forces that whirl around teenagers as they leave their childhood behind and struggle to become adult. They're also great to share out loud.

Ten-Second Rainshowers compiled by Sandford Lyne. c 1996, Simon & Schuster.
Mr. Lyne is a Maryland poet, and in various workshops all over, has inspired and encouraged youngsters to use poetry as a way to express themselves and how they feel about nearly any situation - and this compilation is of some of that work by young people. The depth and range of feelings revealed are sobering and heartening at the same time.

What Have You Lost? selected by Naomi Shihab Nye. c 1999, Greenwillow.
Here is another sobering collection - while the main theme is loss, there are some sections about what one has found. But loss predominates - through death, divorce, betrayal or just by growing up and away - losing comes in many forms and sizes. These poems are just one way to work through lifeís inevitable losses - for the readers, perhaps, as well as the writers. Somber black and white portraits by Michael Nye reinforce the theme.


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All contents © 1999, Kate Marley. All rights reserved.