It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at Teach.Mentor.Texts. Come visit! And also visit Sheila at Book Journeys to find reviews of all kinds of books for adults and for children.
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It’s Poetry Month, and here at Teacher Dance on Mondays each week, I share the books I’ve read in the past week. This month, I’ll also share some poetry anthologies for children that I’ve loved, I’ve used, and some recently published ones you should add to your own collections.
More poetry: Check on Laura Shovan (see to the right) to see the latest line written for the Progressive Poem. Check all other links above!
World Rat Day Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of - written by J. Patrick Lewis and Illustrated by Anna Raff
I think I laughed more while reading these poems than I have in a while. It’s such a clever book, filled with just what the title says, holidays never heard of. There is Dragon Appreciation Day, Jan. 16th. Here is found “Eight Table Manners for Dragons, among them, “Never remove a hare from your food.” On April 10th is Firefly Day, with my favorite, favorite image of fireflies: “electrified confetti”. Isn’t that beautiful? All through the year, J. Patrick Lewis has created new holidays, also including World Rat Day, Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day, and Pink Flamingo Day. The marvelous illustrations by Anna Raff add much to the poems, with small rat visitors on every page, no matter which holiday. I imagine this book will be read again and again!
Swan Song Poems of Extinction- written by J. Patrick Lewis and Illustrated by Christopher Wormell
I discovered still another book of poems by J. Patrick Lewis at school recently, stories of animals who have gone extinct since the 1600’s. It is filled with poignant, even bitter stories of those animals we’ve lost. In the foreword, Lewis writes, “More than ninety-nine percent of all species that have ever lived are now extinct.” His poetic sad goodbyes include the The Great Auk (“Like bowling pins corralled in pens”); The Passenger Pigeon (“Imagine, if you can, that once in America,/almost half the birds alive, were these migrating doves.”); and the Arizona Jaguar (“Once the New World’s largest cat”). There is additional information at the back about each animal. The illustrations are beautiful woodcuts, showing each animal in its habitat. The book reminds me of last year’s book with Jane Yolen, Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs, although it is not as sharp-tongued.
Miss Moore Thought Otherwise – written by Jan Pinborough and Illustrated by Debby Atwell
It’s a joy to read inspiring stories about libraries. This book about Anne Carroll Moore’s influence in changing libraries to be more welcoming to children is one wonderful book. I like when picture books tell stories that are true, and loved hearing about the ways Miss Moore changed libraries. The story tells of her often doing things unexpected during her time in history because she was a woman, so offers a great mentor text to discuss stereotypes, both about woman and about children. In Miss Moore’s time, librarians didn’t believe children could take good care of books, and she changed that, with the help of others, too. Illustrations are colorful folk art paintings, telling the story right along with the text. It’s a story worth knowing.
Helen’s Big World, The Life of Helen Keller - written by Doreen Rappaport and Illustrated by Matt Tavares
There are many books written about the life of these inspiring women, Helen and Annie, but perhaps this one is a good introduction to their story for younger children. It includes all the parts one knows well, the beginnings, the sickness, and the challenging young Helen, until Annie Sullivan show up. The book traces the story all the way to the ends of both lives, emphasizing Helen’s love of learning and Annie’s dedication to helping her learn all she can. There are several points of discussion and possible points for further research, like about the controversy over Helen’s support of women’s suffrage and improved work conditions through unions. The illustrations fill the pages with beautiful images of the important scenes of Helen’s life, from babyhood to old age.
Penguin and Pinecone – written and Illustrated by Salina Yoon
Spare text and gorgeous pictures tell this whimsical story of an unlikely pairing that shows good things about friendship: loyalty and sacrifice for a friend. The pinecone too reciprocates, but you must read the book to find out how. Illustrations are simple and endearing.
The Pout-Pout Fish - written by Deborah Diesen and Illustrated by Dan Hanna
I’m so glad that someone reviewed this so I could find it and read it too. It’s a book that’s been out a while, and will be terrific to use to talk about finding ways to stop being gloomy. This Pout-Pout fish thinks he’s doomed to be sad and spread the “dreary-wearies” all his life, until something extraordinary happens that turns his life around! Written in rhyme and illustrated in entertaining, cartoon-like illustrations, it’s a book that will make everyone smile, page after page. I loved all the little ‘extra’ animals added to each page!
Bones Skeletons and How They Work – written and Illustrated by Steve Jenkins
My granddaughter has been so interested in all things about skeletons lately, so this is the perfect gift for her 4th birthday. Steve Jenkins gives so much clear information in his books and this is no exception. It is filled with small bits of information, beautiful drawings clearly labeled, including prehistoric and current animals and human. It includes fold-out pages, like one that shows an entire human skeleton, and an additional four page spread of the ribs of a small python. One double spread compares the arms of animals, including humans, and discusses the uses of them. This book will be of great interest now, and will keep my granddaughter re-reading for a long time.
The False Prince – by Jennifer A. Neilsen
I’ve been poking along in this book for several weeks, but it’s no fault of the book, there’s just been a lot to do. I must repeat what others have said, it is terrific! The book moves quickly, with lots of action, beginning with an orphan running away, and ending with some surprises and worries about what’s next. I loved the main character, Sage, who really carries the whole show throughout the book, but the supporting characters are described deeply enough that we can appreciate them too. The plot keeps the story moving well, set in a medieval time with created countries.
Next: The Runaway King, by Jennifer A. Neilsen, of course! And more poetry and picture books!