In rounding up my poetry reading for the year I cannot overlook the titles that won't be found on the poetry shelves, but ooze with it anyway. Here are a few titles you won't want to miss.
Bella & Bean, written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and illustrated by Aileen Leijten - What could be better than a story of two friends, one of whom happens to write poetry? The story of Bella and Bean is littered with poems and words that inspire poetry. And the text itself? Positively glowing. Here's a snippet. "Bella stretched out on the blanket, and one by one, read her poems to Bean under the starry sky./Besides river and moon and daisy, Bean heard words like bonnet and bush and breeze./"Your poems make me melt," said Bean./"Don't you dare," said Bella." (You can read more about this book at The Reading Zone.)What poetic picture books have you read this year? Please share, as I'd love to know what you've been reading.
My Uncle Emily, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter - This is a heartwarming, imaginative tale based on real events in the lives of Gib Dickinson and his famous aunt, Emily Dickinson (who called herself Uncle Emily). The story unfolds with Uncle Emily giving her nephew a dead bee and a poem with instructions to take them to his teacher. (True story.) Here's an excerpt.
I did not want to take the poem to school,When one of Gib's classmates calls his Uncle Emily a name, Gib punches him in the nose. A fight, dunce caps, thank you notes, a partial explanation, and a full confession (inspired by the poem Tell all the Truth) ensue. The pen and ink illustrations add to the atmosphere set by the free verse form of the story. One can't help but notice how much this gem-of-a-book feels like Dickinson. (You can read more about this book at Kids Lit.)
fearing the boys would not understand it,
fearing that they might laugh at it.
Not laugh in a good way,
as Uncle Emily and I do,
but in a nasty way.
Me With You, written by Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by Christopher Denise - This is a charming book in verse that celebrates individuality and being yourself around the people you love. It begins, "We're a pair beyond compare/A rare and special two/In all the ways that I am me/And you're completely you." The last stanza brings the ideas full circle and will put a bit of a lump in your throat. Check out the book trailer below. (You can read more about this book at On My Bookshelf.)
All the World, written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee - This one is a lovely little gift wrapped up in 200 words (in rhyming couplets) and gorgeous, detailed illustrations created in a palette and style reminiscent of Virginia Lee Burton. The oversized pages provide the perfect canvas to tell a quiet but moving story. It begins, "Rock, stone, pebble, sand/Body, shoulder, arm, hand/A moat to dig, a shell to keep/All the world is wide and deep." This one will make you sigh and immediately flip to the beginning to read again, and again, and again. (You can read more about this book at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup.)