Thursday, October 4, 2018

Poetry Friday - Poems & Animals


          Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference hosts Poetry Friday today with a bit of a leaning toward German and Germany. You'll see! Tausend Dank, Tabatha!
          And be sure to visit Irene Latham's blog, Live Your Poem, to join her in her celebration of Octopus Month. Again, you'll discover more when you visit.


        I've enjoyed X.J. Kennedy's books for a long time, and mostly the one written with his wife, Dorothy M. Kennedy, Knock At A Star - A Child's Introduction to Poetry. This is one edition I have, falling apart, but it is still in print with a new cover. For those new teachers I mentored, this is the book I gave them to start them on their way to sharing poetry with students. Of course, others are favorites, too, yet I still love this one. When a poetry collection was donated to the bookstore by X.J. Kennedy, I snapped it up and would love to share it with you. 


       It is a bestiary alphabet book, full of animals known (bee, quetzal, snail), animals created (Ursa Major & Ursa Minor, minotaur), animals ancient (tyrannosaur), and animals real, but unknown to some, including me (Pangolin). Have you ever heard of a "Vinegarroon"? Pencil illustrations by Heidi Johanna Selig help visualize the descriptions by Kennedy, often with great humor. Here is one page with the poem "Alligator" and her illustration.


The Crocodile's a social sort:
In bumpy green apparel
Crocs paddle round their jungle pool
Like pickles in a barrel.

The Crocodile can smile with style
And chuckle kindly, too.
Oh, they're the friendliest of beasts –
In fact, they're fond of you!

        The accomplished rhythm and rhyme and alliteration by X.J. Kennedy make me want to read each one aloud and then admire his expertise. I did read a few to my youngest granddaughter who loved this one above. (We've had to watch for alligators on beach trips). Other verses (parts of the poems) I enjoyed:

Fly

How hard the fly is to surprise!
It sees you through each shoulder
With twenty-twenty compound eyes
And gracefully grows older.

Roc

You've counted sheep? You still can't sleep?
Try counting rocs instead,
For then, if you should chance to dream,
You'll have Rocs in your head.

       You can find X.J. Kennedy's bio at The Poetry Foundation here.


38 comments:

  1. Crocs and Rocs! (That rocks. :P) Rhyme and humour? Kids would be delighted. (And I love that you shared it with beginner teachers you mentored.)

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    1. It is clever & fun, isn't it? Thanks, Kat!

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  2. These are wonderful and delightful Linda! Love these lines,
    "For then, if you should chance to dream,
    You'll have Rocs in your head."
    The alligator poem is charming too–if an alligator can be charming…
    I'll have to look for this-hope it's still around, thanks!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed them, too, Michelle. Thank you!

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  3. Oh, so fun! What beautiful books. And, what a thoughtful mentor gift for new teachers. I love the voice of child in his poems...the wonder and delight. Let's have an X.J. Kennedy day sometime. Wouldn't that be fun and heal the world just a bit? I think so.

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    1. Yes, X.J. Kennedy is a poet I hope we do remember, Linda. He writes wonderfully for children. Thanks!

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    2. Just checked for his birthday - Aug. 21 and he'll be 90 this next year. Sounds like a great time for a celebration, Linda!

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  4. Two new-to-me poetry books! Thanks for sharing the sample poems, so fun. I'm a sucker for alphabet books.

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    1. I like them, too, Jama, and this is a great find. Thanks!

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  5. Oh, how perfect is "like pickles in a barrel"?!
    Thanks for sharing these!

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    1. Each of his poems inspire because of their new & fun look at the animals, Donna. Thanks!

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  6. Having just been working on animal poems, these are really fun to read!

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    1. So glad you liked them, Liz. Kennedy's writing is terrific. Thanks!

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  7. Oh, this isn't a book I know. I'll check to see if my library has it. I read the crocodile poem to Jack! Reminds me of the song that begins..
    "Oh, she sailed away on a sunny summer day On the back of a crocodile."

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    1. My library didn't have it. It's why I'm loathe to part with children's books. But I did request The Beasts of Bethlehem, mentioned in his bio at The Poetry Foundation.

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    2. Enjoy what you can find, Ramona. Every one I read of his is terrific! How fun you read it to Jack! Thanks for looking!

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  8. What fun! I love poetry that sneaks a little bit of learning into the fun, with such joyous results!

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  9. Another book I need for my overstuffed shelves! (I think I read this long ago--thanks for shining a light on it.)

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    1. You're welcome, Buffy. Probably you did, and it's been around a long while. Enjoy if you can find it.

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  10. How great! I've seen poems by X.J. Kennedy in anthologies. There's nothing like those old favorite books that are so fun to teach from!

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    1. Yes, I love them, and the new ones, too. We are fortunate to have them all. Thanks, Ruth.

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  11. I'm with you on Knock at a Star! I was lucky enough to have my picture taken with Mr. Kennedy a few years back. He still maintains his sense of humor!

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    1. Wow, you are lucky, Diane. That is wonderful to hear. And I'm glad you love Knock At A Star, too. Thanks!

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  12. That crocodile with the silverware in its claws and that evil smile is fabulous! What a wonderful find!

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    1. I was happy to spot it, Margaret. Yes, I adore that illustration. Thanks!

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  13. Thanks, Linda - I'll look for these two books! (I once heard X.J. Kennedy lecture about poetry to an audience of adults at the University of Washington. At one point he paused, threw back his head, and began to sing a song worthy of an Irish pub! Wonderful moment, and the audience loved it.)

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    1. I love reading about your experience and story, Julie. How delightful! It fits what I read in his poems, doesn't it? Thanks!

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  14. What fun topics and how joyous it's being printed again and you can share it for all to enjoy.

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    1. Thanks, Mandy, both books are worth finding!

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  15. What fun! I wasn't familiar with XJ Kennedys work, but want to be now! Rocs in your head indeed!

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    1. Hoping you'll be able to find some of his work, Sally. Thanks!

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  16. These are delightful. Thanks for sharing them. And can you believe I've encountered a pangolin (an animal I did not know) twice today visiting Poetry Friday blogs.

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    1. I was surprised too when I saw the other mention of a pangolin, such fun! Thanks, Kay, I'm glad you enjoyed the poems.

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  17. These were funny little poems. I'm sure the crocodile is quite fond of us ;)

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  18. Thanks for reminding us about these classics!

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  19. I'm another big fan of X. J. Kennedy's work, so I'm glad to see more of it here. I love the image of "pickles in a barrel."

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  20. Thanks Erin, Mary Lee, & JoAnn. I'm glad you liked the poems. We shouldn't forget the old & wonderful ones for sure.

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