Monday, March 29, 2021

It's Monday - Celebrating - Preparing for Poetry Month - Almost April

     Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and 

Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! Happy Reading! 

       April arrives in a few days and that feels like a special month for several reasons, one of which is that it is known as Poetry Month. For that reason, I have a second post for #IMWAYR today, to share some of the recent poetry books out this year! I know many beloved books of poetry for children, teens, and adults yet I wanted to share these new ones in case you have not met them yet!

        I cannot imagine NOT having this marvelous new book by Nikki Grimes on my bookshelf or in my classroom, or as a gift for someone. She has researched and found poems from women poets from the Harlem Renaissance, shared the poem, and her chosen "strike line" to use in her own poem. The "strike line", FYI, is the line where each word ends a line in a poem form termed a "Golden Shovel" originated by Terrance Hayes. Nikki used this form to write two previous books, One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance and the picture book The Watcher, illustrated by Bryan Collier.
        This book is divided into three sections with the themes of Heritage, Earth Mother, and Taking Notice. An exceptional addition is that each two-poem part is illustrated by a different artist. I marked a few favorites. The first is "Joy" by Clarissa Scott Delany, celebrating that emotion "like the roistering wind/That laughs through stalwart pines." Nikki uses another line from this poem and writes of  "Leah's Reunion" when "Without this maternal crew's guidance, a/brown girl like me would simply be adrift." I adored the celebration in "Rondeau" by Jessie Redmon Fauset and Nikki's "Tara Takes on Montclair" where she writes of a girl who cannot understand why "folks want me to see "the countryside" and where that girl discovers trees and cousins suggest "Let's head for the woods!" 
        There are more and more poems to love and extensive resources that include a table of contents, a preface, pages about the poem form, and the Harlem Renaissance. Found at the back are poet biographies, artist biographies, acknowledgments, sources, and an index. I loved every page.

              This past pandemic year has been stressful for many, but most especially for children, switching back and forth from in-school to hybrid school to online school. I imagine everyone knows of this mixed-up world that children have been asked to navigate. 
               Poet and educator Georgia Heard has published a wonderful book of creative poetry, all centered on mindfulness, helping to find calm in the midst of what she describes in one poem, "There is a Monkey in My Mind". On a double-page spread showing a monkey jumping around using vines on trees, illustrated by Isabel Roxas, a few of the lines read "I tell myself: Be kind to the monkey swinging in my mind, and give it space–". It's one of the poems describing the challenges that comes when distracted, sometimes not even realizing that a lesson has been missed, a question has not been answered. Finding ways to be mindful becomes Georgia's thread of helpful poems, with titles like "Counting Breaths", the title poem, "My Thoughts are Clouds", and about meditation, "Come Home to Your True Self". You may want this book for yourself to enjoy the poetry and the ways Georgia suggests to become mindful. It offers a lovely way to present the ideas to children, in class or at home. In the end, putting her own creative spark, she changes to being "kindful" with a final and hopeful poem. This lovely book is a how-to with child-friendly illustrations and softly-worded poems. 

           It seems everyone is talking about this new book by Lita Judge and they should be! But, it's a tough one to review. I want you to see it and read it! It's a non-fiction book that tells about new discoveries about trees, trees helping each other no matter the species, their ways of communication, yes, communication, their help for the world's eco-systems, and more! Lita Judge opens with a small piece about her inspiration years ago leaning against a thousand-year-old oak, pondering her life, what that tree had seen in its incredible life, like Charles I finding refuge during England's Civil War. Can you imagine? Lita did. And now, many books later, she's been inspired to do the research, written and illustrated what could be the beginnings of further research. Each double-page spread includes gorgeous illustrations of various trees, a long prose piece concerning varied topics, like "Feeding Younger Trees", "Winter Dormancy",  and "Helping A Friend", PLUS a poem. In "Helping A Friend", Lita explains that when a tree is in need and cannot produce enough food for itself, it sends out a call for help. Nearby trees, no matter the species, send sugars along their roots to that tree. This amazing fact and others shared are part of new discoveries made in only the past twenty years. 
          The book holds some information I already knew, but so much I did not. There is quite a bit of information added at the back for various topics, an author's note, and more

           This new rhyming poetry book by Matt Forrest Esenwine and Charles Ghigna, out earlier this month, is a fitting end to our year of pandemic living, one that shows what so many have done during the year, going outside to experience the beauty of nature that we've previously ignored "before". In one long poem of "another time", Charles and Matt write when "The land was fresh, the air was clean,/the valleys lush with shades of green" poignantly as Andrés F. Landazábal celebrates those poetic images in his gorgeous and vivid illustrations. They don't ignore what was NOT before like "no drones or airplanes/flying past a smoggy sun" but help us readers relish the beauty of long ago, and by going out, now as well. They write an invitation: "If you want to know this world,/there's something you can do. . ." Among numerous other things, I loved the idea of looking up at the passing clouds, what Matt and Charles name "a ballet in the skies." You readers will love reading, sharing, and taking a walk in our wonderful outdoors!

I shared another favorite and new rhyming picture book on Poetry Friday last week here, A Bird in the Herd by Kathryn Apel from way down under! It's a lot of fun for a read-aloud!

          Enjoy April, Poetry Month! 

"Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry." – Mark Strand, "Eating Poetry," Reasons for Moving, 1968

 NEXT! On March 8th, I'll be sharing Spi-Ku, A Clutter of Short Verse on Eight Legs by Leslie Bulion, on a blog tour! It's one more new poetry book!


  1. Thank you so much, Linda, for these beautiful, thoughtful reviews! Matt and I enjoyed every word of our ONCE UPON A TIME journey! So glad you like it too!

    Happy Poetry Month to you and all your blog buddies!

    1. You're welcome, Charles. I'm happy that you enjoyed each one. I am inspired especially by your and Matt's poem, hope to write and celebrate about nature all of April. Congratulations for your special book!

  2. I have LEGACY on my desk now. I can't wait to order the other books you've listed, too! (I need more money! LOL)

    1. Enjoy what you can, Jennifer. Yes, a huge pot of book money would be a help! Happy reading! I'm glad you have Legacy already. It's wonderful, as are the others!

  3. I just adored Legacy! I've added The Wisdom of Trees. Once Upon Another Time was already on my list. I hope one of my libraries brings them in soon.

    1. I hope your libraries gets them, too, Cheriee, and am so glad to hear your opinion of Legacy. What a beautiful book it is! Thanks!

  4. Wow—two posts this week! These poetry books look wonderful, especially Legacy, which I've heard a lot of praise for. Hopefully I'll get a chance to cram some poetry reading into this month! Thanks for the great post!

    1. Each one is a gem. I hope you do find some poetry to love this coming April, poetry month! Thanks!


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