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It’s April and It’s Poetry Month

Poetry is an elegant and creative demonstration showcasing the beauty of our language! Here is a collection of a variety of new poetry books for all ages to enjoy!

Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai, is a story told in free-verse of a family emigrating from Vietnam in 1975. From the eyes of ten-year-old Ha, this book details the huge difficulties that this family faces as it flees a war-torn country.  Traveling over the ocean, ending up in Alabama and needing a sponsor family to help Ha’s family become U.S. citizens, learning the culture and language are all brought out in the expressive yet sparse words on each page. This book won the Newbery Honor award this year and after reading the power it holds, it’s easy to see why!

Pearl Verses The World, by Sally Murphy, and drawn in black-and-white by Heather Potter, is a sad, poetic story about young Pearl’s navigating through life and school.  But, ultimately, when her dear Granny dies, she’s able to look at her life with a better perspective and rise above her loneliness and discover the joy that surrounds her.

Take Two!  A Celebration of Twins, by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, and painted with splashes of watercolor by Sophie Blackall, is a collection of fun and imaginative twin poems by Poet Laureate Lewis who is a twin, and the famous poet Yolen who has grand-twins. The collaboration of these two celebrated poets infuses a collection of poems that include “Womb Mate”, “How Twins Talk” and “Eating with Twins”. Check out the interesting anecdotal twin facts found at the bottom of some of the poems. This is the perfect “twin” book for that awaiting mom. I can’t wait to give this book to my daughter-in-law and mother of 1-year-old twin girls!

A Little Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very Young, by Halfdan Rasmussen, translated by Marilyn Nelson and Pamela Espleland, and beautifully illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, is a collection of perfect poems for toddlers. Mr. Rasmussen passed away several years ago but was a very well known and liked Danish poet. These thirteen poems are a delight to read and youngsters will adore the contents of each one. Some of the illustrations take up the entire page and some are much smaller, but each characterizes the poem perfectly!

A Meal of the Stars: Poems Up and Down, by Dana Jensen, and painted with full-page water-color and ink illustrations by Tricia Tusa, encompasses tall skinny single word poems that ingeniously describe the likes of a balloon, giraffe, a zipper and even a Ferris Wheel.

The Hound Dog’s Haiku and Other Poems for Dog Lovers, by Michael J. Rosen, and created with woodcuts and painted with acrylic by Mary Azarian, examines twenty breeds of dogs with the perfection of limiting the wordage by using Haiku. The pictures take up the entire open spread of each dog and the colors are vibrant. But the best illustrations in this book are how quickly and easily you learn and understand each breed by the use of this type of poetic form. More information about each dog is found at the back of the book.

Boy Wonders, by one of my favorite children’s poets: Calef Brown, is a most creative look at our language as Mr. Brown twists, turns and capitulates word usage into an ever wonderment of questions. Here’s one of my favorites: “Would a banister / on a ladder / make it better? Could the former / improve the latter? Make it safer?? Would it matter?” The open-spread color of acrylic helps creates this world of wordplay.

Outside Your Window:  A First Book of Nature, by Nicola Davis, and painted with mixed-media by Mark Hearld, is an over-sized book full of poetry that sweeps the year of nature. Beginning with Spring, poems include “Migration” and “Planting Seeds”. Each season carries the weather topics of life outside and the marriage of poems and the beauty of the illustrations will not be lost on the beholder.

In the Sea, by David Elliott, and illustrated with woodblock prints and watercolor by Holly Meade, explores animal and plant life deep in the ocean with the brevity of rhyme. These cleverly worded poems include “The Octopus,”, “The Sea Horse” and “Coral”. The swirls of color create an illusion of underwater movement and the regal drawings of our largest mammal gives the impression of peaking into this underwater world!

Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie:  Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems, by J. Patrick Lewis (Children’s Poet Laureate), and digitally painted and collaged by Michael Slack, parodies fourteen famous poets with poems that may require solutions, problem-solving and having a knowledge of fractions, money, percentages and more. The parody of poems that come from famous poets are tackled with great fun and humor. “Edgar Allan Poe’s Apple Pie” is the title of a poem inspired by “The Raven”. It begins “Once upon a midnight rotten, / Cold, and rainy, I’d forgotten” and so on.  Some of the famous poets parodied include Emily Dickinson, Ogden Nash and Walt Whitman. More information about each poet is found at the back of the book. These poems are fun, ingenious and beg to be solved.

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