Our language never sounds better than through the eloquence and elegance of poetry. Poetry is one of my favorite genres and I relish and cherish words evoking imagery and then rolling off the tongue like a springboard of harmony. These poetry books will help children and adults enjoy the power of words and the rhythmic rhyme of phrases. The last two books are picture books and are good for ages three to seven. The rest of the books can be enjoyed by all ages.
Outside the Box: A Book of Poems, by Karma Wilson, and brilliantly drawn with brush, pen and ink by Diane Goode, is a clever and funny collection of poems that kids of all ages will relate to and laugh along with. “Oatmeal” is an easy poem kids will empathize with: “As mooshy, gooshy, squishy goo? / It’s awful stuff to eat. / As crunchy, munchy cookie bliss? / Oatmeal’s a wonderful treat.” Goode has captured the humor of every poem by illustrating the funny theme the poem portrays. There’s a poem titled “Master Wrapper” where there’s a nice description of a beautiful box just wrapped in ribbons and paper. The punch line at the end is the fact that the gift was left out of the box. There are over 100 poems with subjects that are all about a child’s life and their point of view is on display throughout.
Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles, by Douglas Florian, contains 170 poems that also showcases Florian’s humor in both poem and thick ink drawings that perfectly fit each poem. The poetry is grouped into chapters with headings such as “Chortles & Chuckles”, “Willy-Nilly Sillies” and “Miles of Smiles”. Some are long, but most are short such as “Rooster”. “The rooster crowed this morning, / Its comb a brilliant red. / The rooster crowed this morning, / And then went back to bed.” There is fun word-play found throughout along with alliteration and consonance usage. Kids are sure to smile all the while throughout this entire collection!
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein, has recently been reissued celebrating its 40th year anniversary. There are also twelve extra poems included in this special edition. Even though this book was originally published back in 1974, the poems are still relevant, fun, funny and imaginative. Silverstein’s genius lies in portraying his imagination that all who read can relate with along with the humorous drawings that seem to glide off wild expectations. “Hug O’ War” demonstrates this simplistic theme of what we want our children to experience. “I will not play at tug o’ war. / I’d rather play at hug o’ war. / Where everyone hugs / Instead of tugs. / Where everyone giggles / And rolls on the rug. / Where everyone kisses, / And everyone grins, / And everyone cuddles, / And everyone wins.” If this book doesn’t bring happiness to all who open the pages, I don’t know what will!
Miss Emily, by Burleigh Muten, and wonderfully illustrated by Matt Phelan, incorporates an adventure when an invitation arrives to four children to join Miss Emily. This beautifully written story blends a bit of biography about Emily Dickinson into some of her magical poems. Phelan’s artwork is once again at its very best. His drawings of soft pencil sketches capture the story and helps moves it beautifully along. And it’s very evident that the author knows her subject well as she weaves this tale of free verse through parcels of Dickinson’s literary array.
A Home for Mr. Emerson, by Barbara Kerley, and brightly illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, is a perfect picture book introducing children to one of America’s finest poets and essayists. The story highlights the values and beliefs of this educated and talented writer. It showcases some of his most difficult moments and how he was able to overcome them. Some of his most quotable quotes can be found on the end-pages as well as the beginning and ending pages of the book. Be sure to read the “Build a World of Your Own” page found at the back. This brilliant information will surely encourage and motivate readers, young and old, to begin writing down thoughts and journal writing of their own!
Motordog, by Kurt Cyrus, and brightly painted by David Gordon, is a delightful rhyming tale about a boy, Flip, who orders from the internet a computerized dog that has “bonus features”. But it appears the dog also has normal instinctive tendencies when he chases a cat around the neighborhood and then up a tree. Flip chases his motorized dog up the tree but falls. This is when the “bonus features” suddenly become evident and the dog saves the day. Kids are sure to get a kick and giggle out of this fun tale. And the rhyming rhythm makes it perfect to read out loud.
Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo, by John Lithgow, and colorfully illustrated by Leeza Hernandez, is a rhyming tale that also begs to be read out loud, or even sung. A youngster is taken to an outdoor concert with his family. (It happens to be next door to a zoo.) The boy is bored and eventually falls asleep where he imagines the orchestra is actually the animals from the zoo. The pictures are hilarious and match the fun word-play of Lithgow’s text. The groovy-looking yak is playing a raccoon-riding sax and the Mongolian goats seem to be eating a sheet of music notes. There’s a CD included with the author’s voice singing along. I only wish there was some musical information to be found at the back as a child’s curiosity will be aroused.