Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kid Konnection: National Poetry Month

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a (hopefully) regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today, I are going to share with you some poetry books for kids of all ages that are perfect for the month of April since it's National Poetry Month!

I admit that I am not a big reader of poetry, and I can't really put my finger on why. I enjoyed all of the Shel Silverstein classics as a youngster, but I kind of lost my interest in reading poetry by junior high. That's why I'm so glad to see that there are so many wonderful poetry books out there for my children. Had I read more poetry when I was younger, maybe I would be more comfortable with it as an adult. I can't stress how important I think it is to introduce poetry to our kids from the very beginning of their lives!

Summary: Pete likes to sleep in pajamas. Gwen slumbers best in a gown. Shawn goes to bed with a shoe on his headfor sleepwalking while upside-down. These clever and quirky poems make bedtime FUN! From a “bunk bed king” who rules from up high to monsters who are not (I repeat, NOT) in the closet, Maybe I’ll Sleep in the Bathtub Tonight truly captures the childhood experience of going to sleep. It casts an amusing eye on sleepovers, beds crowded with animals, the fight to stay awake, and that one last drink of water. Each verse ends with a delightful twist, and charming art captures the poems’ whimsy and magic. They’re sure to bring sweet dreams, full of laughter, to every child! Poems include:Sleep Tight - Bunk Bed King - Pillow Squawk - Night Clothes - Sleepover - Thumb-thing New - Snack Attack - Lullaby-Bye - Creature Comforts - Sweet Dreams - Look Who’s Sleeping - And more! -- Sterling

This first poetry book that I'm going to feature is called MAYBE I'LL SLEEP IN THE BATHTUB TONIGHT AND OTHER FUNNY BEDTIME POEMS by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Stephanie Buscema. This book is perfect for the early elementary school age kids, and my little guy who is almost six loved it! The poems are all very catchy (and very silly), and they are ideal to read right before bedtime since they are all related to getting ready for bed and sleeping.

MAYBE I'LL SLEEP IN THE BATHTUB TONIGHT is filled with 20 hilarious poems. Some are slightly sillier than others, and there are even a few filled with the type of humor that my son loves -- not dirty, but slightly off-color in a 5 year old's mind. It's hard to pick a favorite because I liked so many of them, but I did enjoy the one called "Sleep Tight" which tells the story of a young girl who questions what that saying really means. Of course, my son liked the one called "Floating Away" where the little girl drank too much before going to bed and well... you can guess what happened!

Besides the cute poems, I also thought the illustrations were adorable. They were whimsical and very colorful; and I thought they were the perfect complement to the funny poems. I especially liked the expressions on the characters' faces.

When I sat down to read this book, it dawned on me that the author Debbie Levy's name sounded very familiar. Recently, I reviewed her middle grade book THE YEAR OF GOODBYES: A TRUE STORY OF FRIENDSHIP, FAMILY AND FAREWELLS. THE YEAR OF GOODBYES was a beautiful book about Ms. Levy's mother's last year in Germany before the Holocaust. These books couldn't have been more different, but I enjoyed each of them in their own way.

Summary: It’s Official:

Kids want more of Kenn Nesbitt’s sidesplitting poetry. They can’t get enough of his clever wordplay, wonderful imagery, and zany rhymes.

In this brand-new collection, Kenn has totally made up over fifty poems involving Acrobatic Cats, Kung Fu Pets, and Chickens on Computers. -- Sourcebooks

THE TIGHTY WHITEY SPIDER AND MORE WACKY ANIMAL POEMS I TOTALLY MADE UP by Kenn Nesbitt and illustrated by Ethan Long is just adorable! This book of silly animal poetry is probably geared towards elementary age children, but I think kids a little younger and a little older (as well as parents) will appreciate this book too! It is a very, very funny looks at some out-of-the-ordinary animals.

I know this book isn't supposed to be for my age, but I was shocked by how much I laughed out loud while reading this book. So many of the poems are funny, but they are also very smart and full of little twists. I know kids will love the surprise endings. I think this really is a book that kids will want to read over and over again -- even those reluctant readers.

My intention was to pull out a few poems that were my favorites, but when I started skimming back through the book, I quickly learned that I couldn't list all of them. I guess that tells you something right there. Suffice it to say that there are so many great poems in this book that it's nearly impossible to pick just one or two that stand out!

As I mentioned earlier, I was not really into poetry much as a child. I so wish I would have had a book like this one when I was in elementary school. Kenn Nesbitt makes poetry fun, and I think that's exactly what we need to get kids hooked. I wasn't familiar with Kenn Nesbitt prior to this book, but his is evidently a rock star in the kids' poetry world. Besides having his work appear in textbooks and magazines and on national television programs, Mr. Nesbitt has a terrific (and very fun) interactive website for kids called Poetry4Kids. It's definitely worth having your kids take a look. I especially liked that he had some lessons to help kids write their own poetry!

And just for the month of April, Kenn Nesbitt's book previous book, MY HIPPO HAS THE HICCUPS for free at until April 30th. This book is filled with many of the same types of silly animal poems as well as the funny illustrations.

Summary: Poetry Speaks Who I Am is filled with more than 100 remarkable poems about you, who you are, and who you are becoming. Dive in—find the poem you love, the one that makes you angry, the one that makes you laugh, the one that knocks the wind out of you, and become a part of Poetry Speaks Who I Am by adding your own inside the book.

Poetry can be life altering. It can be gritty and difficult. It can be hilarious or heart-breaking. And it’s meant to be experienced, so we’ve included a CD on which you’ll hear 44 poems, 39 of which are original recordings—you’ll only find them here. You’ll hear poets both classic and contemporary, well-known and refreshingly new, including:

--Dana Gioia expresses the hunger of a “Vampire’s Serenade”
--Elizabeth Alexander waits for that second kiss in “Zodiac”
--Langston Hughes flings his arms wide in “Dream Variations”
--Marilyn Nelson reads to her class in “How I Discovered Poetry”
--Paul Muldoon’s poem “Sideman,” brought loudly to life by the band Rackett
--And 39 more poems that are immediate and vibrant

From Lucille Clifton’s “Here Yet Be Dragons” to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” to “Tia Chucha,” by Luis J. Rodriguez, Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a collection that is dynamic, accessible, challenging, classic, edgy, and ultimately not quite perfect. Just like you. If you’re lucky, it’ll serve as a gateway to a lifetime lived with poetry. At the very least, it'll be a good time. Dive in, and happy hunting. -- Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

POETRY SPEAKS WHO I AM: POEMS OF DISCOVERY, INSPIRATION, INDEPENDENCE, AND EVERYTHING ELSE... (editor: Elise Pachen, series editor: Dominique Raccah) is unlike an poetry book that I've ever seen. It's focused on the tween set (although I think many of the poems are appropriate for the young adult crowd too!) This book isn't a cute or funny book like the first two I reviewed, and there is no doubt that these poems are for a more mature audience. The poems are raw, honest and so very real.

Ever someone like me (who is not a huge poetry reader) will recognize some of poems and poets in this book. I loved that some of the classics I read in school were included in this book, but I also thought it was terrific how many "new" poets were featured. In fact, some of my favorite poems were from poets whom I had never heard of. Like the other books, it's difficult to pick out one or two poems that spoke to me because there were so many powerful ones; but I think I most enjoyed those poems that were written about the insecurities that young girls face at this time of their life.

The poems in this book are extremely thought-provoking. Since the book is geared towards tweens (who don't always have the longest attention spans), I think the book would best be appreciated if kids just pick it up and read a poem or two at a time. Some of the poems are hard-hitting, and I know I needed time to process them. I'm sure tweens (and teens) will feel the same way.

I have a feeling that this book is going to mean different things to each person who reads it. And I think that's one of the things that makes this book so special. These poems are definitely open to interpretation, and I admit that I didn't always "get" all of them. Having said that, I think if I pick up this book in a few months or even years, some of those same poems that I didn't understand could mean something to me. I can only imagine the power of POETRY SPEAKS WHO I AM to pre-teens and teens since they are in a constant state of change.

This book includes over 100 poems so there are bound to be many that you will relate to and that will touch your heart. I like that the book includes some blank, journal-type pages in the back that readers can use as they wish. I can easily see some kids writing down their thoughts about these poems and other kids trying their hand out at writing some poetry of their own. The book also comes with a CD in the back which includes a little over an hour of poems read in the authors' own voices. It truly is a very special book.

I highly recommend POETRY SPEAKS WHO I AM. It would make a wonderful gift to the tween in your life. Who knows? You might be responsible for developing a love of poetry in a young person!

Thanks to the publishers for sending me review copies of these books.

Make sure you check out the other wonderful blogs which are participating in Savvy Verse & Wit's National Poetry Month Blog Tour! A huge thanks goes out to Serena for coordinating this awesome event!

April 1: Savvy Verse & Wit Welcome Post, Maw Books showcases her old poetry, Semicolon's Favorite Classic Poems Survey

April 2: Diary of an Eccentric on Emily Dickinson, 32 Poems Interview with Geoffrey Brock

April 3: Regular Rumination on poet Claudia Emerson

April 4: Indextrous Reader interviews poetry publisher Brick Books

April 5: Jenn's Bookshelf reviews Tighty Whitey Spider by Kenn Nesbitt, West of Mars introduces the Roadie Poet

April 6: Janel's Jumble showcases Estrella Azul, The Betty and Boo

April 7: Reading Frenzy features Edgar Allan Poe

April 8: Books and Movies features Billy Collins

April 9: Rhapsody in Books features W.B. Yeats

April 10: Booking Mama will review Poetry Speaks Who I Am, Write Meg! features Kim Addonzinio

April 11: Tea Leaves will review "Song of two worlds" by Alan Lightman

April 12: Monniblog will highlight British Columbia, Canada, poets/poetry

April 13: Life Is a Patchwork Quilt features poetry for the deaf

April 14: SMS Book Reviews will surprise us with a poetry book review, Author Ru Freeman will talk about poetry's cross-cultural presence, such as Palestinian poet Dharwish

April 15: KCBooks will discuss Robert Frost's The Outsider and how it impacted her.

April 16: the life (and lies) of an inanimate flying object will review Poetry Speaks Who I Am and host a giveaway for 2 books

April 17: She Is Too Fond of Books will review Tighty Whitey Spider, A Circle of Books will review a small illustrated Poetry anthology, Wordsworth The Eternal Romantic.

April 18: Bibliofreak will feature slam poet Reggie Gibson and a technique for writing poetry that resembles that kid's game called MASH.

April 19: New Century Reading will review a couple of poetry books, 1330V will also post a poetry book review

April 20: Bermudaonion will review The New Kid on the Block by Jack Prelutsky

April 21: A Few More Pages will feature Lucille Clifton

April 22: Necromancy Never Pays will feature a poem

April 23: Everything Distils Into Reading will review a poetry book, In Bed With Books will discuss Romantic poetry, how to read it, and review Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know.

April 24: the bookworm will feature Pablo Neruda

April 25: will review How to (un)cage a Girl by Francesca Lia Block

April 26: Peeking Between the Pages reviews for one of these poets: Jill Bialosky, Margaret Atwood or Sylvia Plath, things mean a lot will review Mary Oliver's Red Bird

April 27: Jen's Book Thoughts features THE LINEUP: Poems on Crime by Reed Farrel Coleman, Linus's Blanket will talk about her experience reading poetry, Reb Livingston's Your Ten Favorite Words, for That's How I Blog show with yours truly.

April 28: Ooh Books will post a poem for Free Verse with Mr. Linky

April 29: Online Publicist will interview me, Boston Bibliophile interviews Cambridge Poet Populist Jean-Dany Joachim

April 30: Brimful Curiosities will feature read aloud poetry: Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young collected by Jack Prelutsky, All Kinds Of Families by Mary Ann Hoberman, The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Diary of an Eccentric's The Girl reviews Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Serena said...

Thanks so much for participating in National Poetry Month! I loved the review, and Poetry Speaks I Am is a great book...did you listen to the CD? That was fantastic.

These other poetry books sound fantastic as well.

Don't forget to sign Mr. Linky and send your link to winabook.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love kids poems, especially Silverstein's. The thing is, you can actually *get* them! :--)

bermudaonion said...

The Tighty Whitey Spider looks adorable - just the title makes me smile. I'm reviewing a kids' poetry book, too, because I'm afraid the others might be over my head. I'm hoping this will help me learn to enjoy poetry.

Carrie said...

It's good to know of this poetry book! I think we'd like it. We read a few new poetry books this past week and I'm scouting out new things to use this month. Thanks for the tip! It sounds cute!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I've got this posted at Win a Book. Thanks for the link and pardon the brevity here... I'm off to the store with some kids! We need poetry books!

Brimful Curiosities said...

I love Kenn Nesbitt's online book, MY HIPPO HAS THE HICCUPS. So nice that it is free to view this month. I need to reopen it and read a few of the poems to my daughter.

The Bookworm said...

great post!
Maybe I'll Sleep In the Bathtub Tonight sounds cute.
I agree, poetry is meant to be experienced.

Lisa Roe said...

Thank you for the introduction to these books! They're so fun!

Valerie said...

Thanks for bringing all these poetry books to my attention. I have three kids, and it seems that there is something from each that would appeal to at least one of my kids. Happy National Poetry Month!

evelyn.n.alfred said...

I saw the "Poety Speaks: I Am" book in a bookstore and enjoyed reading it, but didn't have enough cash. I will certainly get it in the future.