Poetry Books by Douglas Florian

In Celebration of National Poetry Month

Douglas Florian is a prolific writer of children’s poetry, particularly with animal themes.

I have a problem with his book insectlopedia, albeit it is a good problem. I don’t know whether to put it on the poetry shelf or stash it with my insect books. With twenty-one poems, it definitely qualifies as a top-notch poetry book. The quality of the information and the freshness of the observations provided, however, suggests it should be on the shelf with some of my better entomology books for children. Maybe I just need to get another copy. Or maybe I should buy two copies, because it should be on the humor shelf as well. I have read that Douglas Florian was formerly a cartoonist, and his fun, silly side comes through in his poetry books.

The illustrations that accompany the poems are quirky. Florian painted them with watercolors on brown paper bags. It gives them an informal look that makes them appealing and kid-friendly. Some of the poems don’t even need illustrations, like the inchworm for example, because the words form a shape. These could be used in lessons on concrete poetry.

Douglas Florian’s in the swim has playful poems about numerous animals found in the sea, from blennies, to sea horses and whales. Although they are fun, once again Florian fills the poems with accurate information and even trained scientists will find them intriguing. They are guaranteed to make you smile and probably even laugh out loud.

As with insectlopedia, Florian slips in some concrete poems to add visual interest. The illustrations are done on watercolor paper this time, but still have a fanciful appeal. The watercolor adds to the feeling of being down in the water with the creatures. His imagination is wonderful, like having the sea horses wear saddles.

Florian’s newest book about dinosaurs has gotten some great reviews. Catch a peek at his blog.

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week the celebration is at Mommy’s Favorite Children’s Books.

Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out by Ralph Fletcher

In Celebration of National Poetry Month

Poetry Matters is a “how to” book that is a joy to read, particularly if you like poetry. The author says, “Maybe you’ve heard before that poetry is magic, and it made you roll your eyes, but I believe it is true. Poetry matters.” He goes on to explain how important poetry is because it allows us to communicate during difficult times when no other form of expression will work. You can tell he truly feels the power of poetry.

This book is written for preteens, and Ralph Fletcher has obviously spent a lot of time working with young people. He knows what beginning poets need to learn and how to keep their attention. His recommendations are to the point and he’s included a lot of concrete, practical advice on how to get that poem onto paper and then polish it until it is the best it can be. He’s provided the inspiration needed to “light the spark,” and then sprinkled the text with examples of poetry from real kids.

When I picked this book to review I didn’t remember it, but one of the chapters is an interview with Kristine O’Connell George who wrote the wonderful Fold Me a Poem book that I reviewed in the previous post. Here she has a number of useful tips, including the suggestion to tape record yourself reading you poems and then listen carefully when you have time to concentrate. As she says, you can even hear where the commas need to go.

This book is a great resource for older children (and even beginning adults) who are interested in writing poetry. If every school used this book to teach poetry, I am positive that poetry would be everyone’s favorite subject.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 19, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0380797038
ISBN-13: 978-0380797035

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week the celebration is at Abby (the) Librarian blogspot.

Picture Book Review: Fold Me a Poem

In Celebration of National Poetry Month

Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O’Connell George and Lauren Stringer (Illustrator) is one of those picture books that you love to review because it is so easy. Dig through your bag of superlatives, sprinkle a few in each sentence and you are done. It is simply an outstanding book.

Through spare poems, the author tells a lovely tale of a boy folding and interacting with a zoo of origami animals. She mixes humor, conflict and adventure to tell a compelling story, starting with a bare haiku about the boy folding a rooster and the rooster waking up. The results are enchanting.

The illustrator admits she had to learn how to fold origami to make the illustrations for the book, and you can see her hard work. The illustrations really shine. The lively images carry the story line just the right amount.

Supposedly for ages 4-8, this book appeals to a much broader age range. I know an 11 year-old-boy who enjoyed it immensely, and adults have raved about it, too. Not only is the book engaging, it is also inspiring. We wanted to fold origami and write poems as soon as we finished it. See how we folded paper butterflies in the illustrations and photos below.

Be sure to visit  Kristine O’Connell George’s website, as well Lauren Stringer’s, for additional information, educational activities and peeks into the book.

Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O’Connell George and Lauren Stringer (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 56 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books (April 1, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0152025014
ISBN-13: 978-0152025014

To fold a paper butterfly, take a look at the illustration here and then the photos below. Start with a square piece of paper, any size, but preferably brightly colored. If it is colored only on one side, make sure the colored side is facing out on the first fold.

foldedbutterfly

Photo 1. Offset the two corners about an inch on the first fold if you are using eight inch square paper.

fold1

Photo 2. Simply fold the two sides together down the center between the two tails. Already it starts to look like a butterfly.

fold41

Photo 3. Now fold up a “body” of roughly 1/3 inch along the center fold. Crease one way, unfold, and then turn over and fold again.

fold31

fold21

Enjoy your spring butterfly!

National Poetry Month

This month is National Poetry Month. Let’s celebrate!

Poetry is…

By Roberta Gibson

Poetry is amazing.
It has special-sounding words.
Buzz, leap and skedaddle,
Singing of the birds.

Poetry is so pleasing.
It can make you feel at ease.
Sleeping on a sunny beach,
Tickled by a lazy breeze.

Poetry can be powerful.
It can shake you to the core.
Ideas that wake you up,
And then make you think some more.

Poetry can be funny.
It can make your whole face grin,
Laugh until your knees are weak,
And tears run down your chin.

Poetry is your voice.
What only you have to say.
But it delights you when someone else
Says they also feel that way.

flower1