a fountain of joy…April is Poetry Month!

I’m celebrating National Poetry Month on Orange Marmalade with a trio of posts in April.

Reading poetry is a lovely way to slow down, savor words, spark imagination, see with fresh eyes.

This first poetry post features several collections vibrant with life and ideas.

vivid cover image

Vivid: Poems & Notes About Color, written and illustrated by Julie Paschkis
published in 2018 by Henry Holt and Company

Percolating with ideas, and linguistic and scientific tidbits, as well as a luscious palette of short poems, this fascinating book comes, fittingly, from an artist whose work is always saturated with color!

vivid by Julie Paschkis

I’ve loved Julie Paschkis’s radiant illustration work in her many books, reviewed over the years on Orange Marmalade. This splendid title, once again, swirls with her dancing line, and sings with vibrant color. Discover where the word “pink” comes from and some very interesting history about pink clothing! Learn why water looks blue, and enjoy sunny poems about green dragons, rowdy yellow daffodils, and rainbow picnics! Such a fun way to spark more interest in the colors around us and the science behind this complex subject. Ages 4 and up.


With My Hands: Poems About Making Things, words by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, pictures by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson
published in 2018 by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Celebrating a vast array of creative pursuits, feeding the idea machines inside children, these poems are a perfect fit for Orange Marmalade readers thirsty for juicy pastimes!


From making “a little boat from twigs and foil so it can float,” to carving soap, building all kinds of forts, constructing a piñata, or using your hands to cast shadow figures on the wall, there’s oodles of creative fun to be had. Colorful mixed media illustrations move us through the seasons of the year, feature a sweet diversity of children, and echo the joy of being a maker. Just looking at the pictures will inspire gobs of creativity! Fabulous collaboration, for ages 4-9.

bronzeville boys and girls cover image

Bronzeville Boys and Girls, written by Gwendolyn Brooks, illustrated by Faith Ringgold
published in 2007 by HarperCollins

A few weeks ago I featured a biography of poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Here’s a great follow-up: a book of her poems about the Chicago Bronzeville neighborhood, accompanied by Faith Ringgold’s illustrations in her rich colors, powerful, forthright line, and deeply human voice. It’s a brilliant combination.

bronzeville boys and girls Brooks and Ringgold

Each poem is entitled with the name of a boy or girl growing up in this African American community. What an array of personalities, emotions, experiences, and activities! Mexie and Birdie share a tea party beneath the clouds and sun, while Cynthia plays in the snow. John lives in poverty, his Papa “dead and done” and his Mama working hard all day, while Eldora is rich, but just as friendly as can be, much to her neighbors’ surprise. A thoroughly authentic and immensely human collection for ages 5 and up.

poem runs cover image

Poem Runs: Baseball Poems and Paintings, written and illustrated by Douglas Florian
published in 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Grassy-spring-green means only one thing to some kids — baseball season is coming!  Anticipate your favorite game with these jaunty poems and childlike paintings from one of the cleverest of children’s poets, Douglas Florian.

There are poems dedicated to most of the fielding positions as well as a keen slugger, base stealer, and even the umpire! Florian’s pieces are full of punch and pizzazz, clever wordplay, creative forms, and all the zest of the sport. Great fun for ages 4 and up!

You can find more lovely books on my Poetry Index here.