We’re continuing our salute to trees this month.

If you are a fan of Douglas Florian, then you probably know he has a new book of poetry, aptly named Poetrees. poetrees

For once, I’ll let the author’s words speak for themselves:

This book is ripe with poetrees,
They’re grown to educate and please.
You’ll see a cedar.
Oak tree too.
Birch and banyan,
Pine and yew.
Palm and gum
And willow tree,
Plus more you’ll love tree-mendously!

I love that Florian chose trees from around the world like the banyan, not just common North American ones. He also uses and explains many common botanical terms “to educate.” As usual there is an element of gentle humor, both visual details and the word play of the poems.

The layout of this book shows how much thought went into its design. The entire book consists of vertical, two-page spreads, giving the feel of looking at a tall tree. If you are familiar with Florian’s illustrations, you will recognize his unconventional art.

Given the spare words and whimsical illustrations, Poetrees has sometimes been mislabeled as a picture book for very young children. For example, I found this book in the children’s section at my local library (we have a juvenile section for older children), and Amazon says a reading level ages 4-8. This is too bad, because most very young readers will probably not be ready to enjoy this book. Booklist suggests grades 3-6, which I think is much closer to the mark. Older children and adults will appreciate it more thoroughly.

Poetrees definitely deserves an appropriate audience. It is a fun way to learn more about trees.

Reading level: Ages 4-8 (according to Amazon, I’d recommend at least 9-12)
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Beach Lane Books; 1 edition (March 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416986723
ISBN-13: 978-1416986720


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Anastasia Suen’s Nonfiction Monday page. This week’s post is at Abby (the) Librarian.

Short Poem Carnival

Laura Salas has a fun blog carnival today called “15 Words or Less: Raining Metal.” The idea is that she posts a photo and a prompt and you leave “poems” in the comments section that are up to 15 words long. I put poems in quotes, because it can be completely free flow.15words

If you want to learn more, check the 15 Words or Less Guidelines.

Today the photo prompt is a shower head spurting water drops.

Here are my 10 Words:

Ideas flow
in the shower
Can’t stay in
all day

Wow, what a great way to jump start the writing muse in the morning.

Bursting With Poetry

April is a wonderful time for National Poetry Month. Flowers are blooming, the leaves are popping, insects are buzzing. Spring is a magical time of rebirth, which seems can only be fully and joyfully expressed in the form of poetry.

For example, the bright yellow brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) are blooming on the roadsides right now in Arizona.



The bright yellow masses inspired this simple acrostic poem:


Bright yellow flowers
Rattlesnakes slip into shade
Indigenous to Arizona
Tortoises munch
Tarantulas wander by
Lizards sunbathe quietly
Elegant bouquet

Bees slurp, then zip
Underneath is cool
Sun loving
Heat resistant

By Nathan and Roberta


And this haiku:

bee sits on flower

buzz buzz bee sips sweet nectar

quick! next flower waits

Roberta Gibson

If you are in the mood to read some insect-inspired poetry, then Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (illustrated by Eric Beddows), is an absoulutely wonderful older book to pull out and enjoy once again. It was the winner of 1989 Newbery Medal.Joyful-Noise

On page 3, the grasshopper poem is a perfect accompaniment to a good bout of spring fever.


Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (December 28, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0064460932
ISBN-13: 978-0064460934
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices


(Affiliate link to Amazon)


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Shelf-Employed.

Nest, Nook and Cranny Review

How do poets like Susan Blackaby do it? In her new book, Nest, Nook and Cranny (illustrated by Jamie Hogan) Blackaby manages to condense an obviously superb understanding of animal behavior and ecology into 22 beautifully-crafted poems, while still injecting humor and word play. What a delight!nest-nook-and-cranny

Teachers will absolutely love this book. Not only can you squeeze in science (the book is organized by habitats and the author includes a description of each in the back), but also language arts. Blackaby has added a behind-the-scenes look at each of her poems in her “Writing Poetry” section. No need to guess whether or not she intended the poem about the skink to be a cinquain, she tells you that it is, and explains the form. This section will be especially helpful to budding poets because they can go to the poems and see concrete examples of different types of poetry, from sonnets to triolet.

You might think that this revealing of craft could make the poems seem artificial or stiff, but they hang together wonderfully as a coherent package. And describing hanging bats as “fur bangles,” you just have to laugh.

The charcoal and pastel illustrations give the feel of a nature journal, with just the right touch of sophistication added by use of occasional silhouettes.

My favorite part of reading this book to my son was when we reached the poem about the duck on page 24, he spontaneously decided to read the quacks in counterpoint to my reading the text. It was a special moment.

If you love poetry and nature, this book is a sure winner.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 49 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing; New edition (February 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1580893503
ISBN-13: 978-1580893503


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Miss Rumphius Effect.