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April celebrates Poetry Month.  Poetry speaks to our hearts.  Perhaps it's
the rhythm of the rhyme, the placement on the page or the language of the
soul.  With it, words sing. Without it, words wilt. Here is a list of some
of the best and newest poetry books available:
"Almost Forever", by Maria Testa, is a moving and deeply touching story told
in free verse about a young girl and how she copes with life when her father
suddenly ships out to fight in the Vietnam War.  Ms. Testa writes with such
force in her simple brevity that every age 10 through adult that picks this
small book (only 69 pages) will be moved to appreciate those who leave to
help preserve our country and those who lovingly wait and wait longingly at
home. "Daddy said, ...In one year, baby, you'll be in-second grade, not
first, and you'll be seven years old, not six and then I'll be home. One
year is not such a long time. I did not - tell Daddy - that he was wrong -
that second grade - was half a hallway and a whole world away from first."
"Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart", by Vera B. Williams, touches on a
delicate subject about how a family deals with a crisis when the father is
sent to jail. Two sisters support and help each other through inventive
poems as they struggle to understand and deal with this problem in their
lives. For ages 7 and up.
Anna Grossnickle Hines has created, sewn and written a menagerie of words
and material in "Pieces: A Year In Poems and Quilts". This is feast for the
eyes and the soul. She has placed poems to match the most beautiful quilts
imaginable. The seasons change as you turn the pages and the vibrant colors
of cloth flow with each poem. Tall trees and lime green grass fill the page
titled: "Do You Know Green?...Brand new baby yellow green - bright bold
biting busy green - until everywhere one goes  green grows." There's even
information about the making of these quilts at the back of the book. This
is a book that all ages would enjoy and appreciate, even if you aren't a
quilter.
"mammalabilia", by Douglas Florian, is a creative look at mammals. Florian
has painted a bright picture of a mammal on one side of the page and on the
opposite page reads a poem that reflects that animal. For instance, the
Bactrian Camel poem reads in a one line curve that goes up and down twice.
"Mr. Bactrian, a question for you - about your back: one lump or two?" A fun
read for all ages.
"Plum", by Tony Mitton and illustrated by Mary Grandpre, is plush and plucky
with its rainbow of colors swirling around stories written in rhyming
fashion. The illustrations are glorious and the poems draw the reader into
the rhythm of the moment. All ages will be drawn to this book.
"Carl Sandburg: Adventures of a Poet", by Penelope Niven and illustrated by
Marc Nadel, weaves together the Pulitzer winner's life and some of his
famous poems and stories. The layout enables the reader to learn about
different experiences of Sandburg's life on one page, while on the other is
a notable writing. I found it very interesting that as a child Sandburg
collected words, like some children collect stamps. If he found a word that
was new, interesting or just sounded different, he wrote it down. And it's
not surprising that he loved to read. If this man's extraordinary life
doesn't inspire the writer and poet in you, I don't know what will. Great
for all ages.

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How about poems to learn by? "Earthshake: Poems from the Ground Up", by Lisa
Westberg Peters and illustrated by Cathie Felstead, will enlighten every
child who is curious about dirt, rocks and water. By the time you've
completed these colorful and informative poems and pictures, you'll feel
like you've just scaled the earth. (or should I say...you'll feel like a
geologist.) Perfect for all ages.
How about a book of poems celebrating the power of words? "In the Land of
Words" by Eloise Greenfield and illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist, plays
with words, demonstrates with words, encourages with words and even colors
words making them bright and bold. The last few lines of the final poem, "I
Go to the Land", sums up the strength of words. "...My thirst pushes me
through the open door. The more I drink of the falling water, the more I
know. I drink. I think. I grow." Great for all ages.
Now for the younger poets ages 4 through 8: "My House Is Singing", by Betsy
R. Rosenthal and illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine, includes poems that
are written with a child's perspective in mind. Each poem takes a space
familiar in a house and brings in a youngster's thoughts. In "The Smoke
Detector", the poem reads: "Why is it that - whenever I make my toast - a
little crispy, you tell on me?"
"Lullaby Moons and a Silver Spoon", illustrated by Brooke Dyer, is a
collection of traditional and new poems for the young listener. The pictures
are so magical and dreamy that each poem is sure to help put your little one
to sleep.
And last, but not least, "The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars", collected,
written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, will awaken a curiosity
of the sky with a display of words only poetry can accomplish.