Friday, April 25, 2008

Poetry in the Classroom - Fold and Bend

I've been wanting to write about Kristine O'Connell George's book Fold Me a Poem for some time now. I actually have talked about using it in a mathematical context and paired with Lissy's Friends by Grace Lin, but for this series I was hoping to find another poetry book to pair it with. While perusing my shelves, I came up with the perfect title.

Fold Me a Poem, written by Kristine O'Connell George and illustrated by Lauren Stringer, is a collection of 32 poems that document a young boy's day as he folds a menagerie of animals and imagines their actions. The artwork that accompanies the poems is vibrant. The origami animals appear life-like, despite the crinkles and folds that form their shapes. One of my favorite poem/illustration pairs is a double page spread with 2 origami rabbits in one corner, separated by a wall of blocks from 4 foxes. The foxes appear to be spying on the rabbits. The poem is below.
At one end
of the table,
the rabbits.

At the other end,
the foxes.

I don't
The animals are folded from a variety of plan and patterned papers. In some cases the boy paints, cuts or glues the animals. One double-page spread shows him placing spots on a leopard, while a variety of other animals look on. The leopard is admonished in the poem with the words, "Don't fidget, Leopard./I need to do/your spots." Another poem/illustration set I love is about penguins. On the left side of the page the penguins begin to take shape. On the right, a whole flock is standing while white bits of paper from a hole punch drop down on them.
White Paper
My hole puncher
clicks and clicks.
This is an imaginative and lyrical book of poetry that kids will love.

If you can't fold paper or don't have the patience for working on such a small scale, something more kinesthetic may be just what you need. How about poems for folding and bending your body? Twist: Yoga Poems, written by Janet Wong and illustrated by Julie Paschkis, is a collection of 16 free verse poems that are inspired by yoga poses. Each poem is featured on one side of a double-page spread with an illustration of a child performing the pose on the opposite page. The watercolor illustrations are done in a style inspired by Indian miniature paintings. In addition to this gorgeous artwork, each pose and verse are framed by mirror-image decorations of flowers, animals, vines, etc. The verses are brief and get right to the essence of each pose. While I love the variety of poems about animal poses, my favorite poem is about breathing.
Breath is a broom
sweeping your insides.

Smooth and slow:
You pull scattered bits of dream fluff
And heart dust into neat piles…

Breath is a broom
sweeping you fresh.
This is a beautiful book, full of spare, elegant verse and gorgeous illustrations. It is also one kids will enjoy, even if they don't practice yoga (though they may want to try once they've read this book).

For those of you interested in learning more about these topics, check out these resources.


  1. Thanks for your suggestions. My kids are going to love these. We just picked up some origami paper and the Origami for Kids video at the library, so we're all set for some paper folding!

  2. Tricia,

    Congratulations! You've won another poetry book from Wild Rose Reader in this Sunday's drawing.