April is National Poetry Month…
…a splendid reminder of the volcanic force, cherry sweetness, tenderness and silliness of words fitted together masterfully in poetic forms.
Over the years I have included many poetry books in my Orange Marmalade posts, and for several years I also brought you a poem each week on Poetry Friday. I heartily recommend sharing poetry with children from infancy forward — lullabies, nursery rhymes, poems for children, growing into more sophisticated forms — just a wee taste at a time, feeding minds and souls on ideas and tuning ears to the wonders of language.
My main poetry month task this year has been to index all of Orange Marmalade’s archived poetry books and poems with links making it easy for you to access these choice titles and poems. It’s my poetry month offering to you, lovely readers! You can click on “Poetry” at the top of the blog, or just follow this link to bring you to that index page.
Meanwhile, I’ve got a few titles to offer you today as well.
The Further Adventures of The Owl and the Pussy-cat, written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Charlotte Voake
published in Great Britain in 2013; first U.S. edition in 2017 by Candlewick Press
It seems that an unscrupulous crow has flown off with the wedding ring! Off the two go in hot pursuit, steering a “beautiful blue balloon” rather than a pea-green boat, though the runcible spoon is still being employed.
Donaldson evokes Lear’s exotic, nonsensical world marvelously and Voake’s loose, blithe line captures the absurdity and delight. An imaginative gem for ages 18 months and up.
Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems, compiled by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
published in 2010 by Candlewick
Reading a peaceful poem or two at bedtime is a grand way of squinching poetry into your lives with very little bother.
The poems in this book are all brief, imaginative, cloaked in comfort, dabbling about in the secure routines of bedtime. You won’t meet anything ghostly, uproarious, melancholy, or otherwise ill-advised as a prelude for sleep here.
All ninety pages are dominated by Karas’s twilight-hued images, with calm compositions that are interesting yet soothing. Great collection for ages 2-6.
My Daddy Rules the World: Poems about Dads, written and illustrated by Hope Anita Smith
published in 2017 by Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company
I love this optimistic poem collection that centers around dads and their kids.
I’m especially fond of the lovely variety of skin tones in Smith’s torn-paper illustrations. Everything from pale cream through deep mahogany is represented, but Smith’s emphasis is on shades of brown, and I’m pleased to see that right there on the cover.
There are fifteen poems here all told in a child’s voice celebrating life with dad from his monumental snoring, to breakfast tête-à-têtes, kitchen-chair haircuts and reading-together moments. There are military dads, hard-working dads, musical dads, stay-at-home dads. But every one of them is an honorable, loving man. If you’re looking for some positive masculine models, this is an exceptional collection. Ages 3 and up.
Keep a Pocket in Your Poem: Classic Poems and Playful Parodies, written and selected by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Johanna Wright
published in 2017 by Wordsong, an imprint of Highlights
Introduce your kids to thirteen well-chosen, beloved, classic poems from authors like Robert Frost, Robert Louis Stevenson, Langston Hughes…
…then tickle their fancies with delightful parodies of each of them by Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis. I am here to tell you — they are clever! Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening becomes a stop at the fridge on a hungry evening, while Carl Sandburg’s cat-feet fog becomes a furious hailstorm. Lewis skillfully retains the large variety of forms presented here, inviting more imitation-of-the-greats by kids who read his work, an exceptional teaching method for any budding writer.
Johanna Wright’s perky, imaginative paintings zestify every page. Great choice for ages 6 and up.
Finally, I’ve perused two large compendiums of poetry with 366 poems each:
A Poem for Every Night of the Year
A Poem for Every Day of the Year, both of them edited by Allie Esiri, illustrated by Zanna Goldhawk
published in 2016 and 2017 respectively, by Macmillan Children’s Books
And wow! Just look at those inviting covers by Zanna Goldhawk. So enchanting.
These poetry compendiums are for older children. They contain poems written by old, world-famous poets as well as contemporary poets, largely Western, although there are a sprinkling of globally-diverse voices. Many are linked to the date through a particular holiday or anniversary of some historical significance, or are seasonal. Allie Esiri is British so there is a propensity towards British cultural figures, places, moments. The tenor of the whole book is much more sophisticated than most collections for children, and the only interior illustrations are on pages introducing each month.
If you’ve raised your children on poetry and are looking for a next step for kids ages perhaps 10 and up, these make lovely, wide-ranging journeys. If your children have not read much poetry yet, I would recommend beginning with something more lavishly illustrated and a bit less challenging in content.
Do check out the books listed in the poetry archives and soak up the nourishing power of poetry!