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World Make Way – Art Inspired Poetry Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins

WORLD MAKE WAY:
New Poems Inspired by Art
from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins
(Abrams BYR; $16.99, Ages 5-9)

 

World Make Way cover image of Cat Watching a Spider by Ōide Tōkō

 

A curious, crouching cat on the book’s cover immediately drew me into World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Eighteen thoughtful and evocative poems and the accompanying works of art that prompted their creation kept me turning the pages. This beautiful collection is everything a poetry anthology for children should be: diverse, original and, as the title suggests, inspiring. In the book’s back matter I learned that Lee Bennett Hopkins, the editor of World Make Way, holds the Guinness Book of World Records citation for compiling the most anthologies for children, making him more than well-suited to spearhead this satisfying project in conjunction with the Met.

I appreciate the breadth of art that was selected and the variety of poems that were commissioned for World Make Way. There is something that will appeal to every reader who dives in, whether they like short, simple poems or those more complex and layered. There are serious poems and those that have fun with the reader like Marilyn Singer’s poem, Paint Me, the first in the book. In it the teen subject of Gustav Klimt’s portrait, Mäda Primavesi, bids the artist to make haste and finish up the painting because she’s such a busy person, hence the book’s title World Make Way, a line she utters in desperation! She has places to go. People to see. After all, if her family can afford to have Klimt paint her, she’s likely a socialite. Ultimately the book will show children how to look at art with fresh eyes and take from it something unique to them. Art evokes something different in each person who beholds it and the poems included perfectly capture that.

One particular poem that stayed with me was Young Ashoka Sundari by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater inspired by Shiva and Parvati Playing Chaupar: Folio from a Rasamanjari Series, 1694-95 by Devidasa of Nurpur. Her poem introduces readers to Ashoka who secretly observes her parents: I stand behind this neem tree / to watch my parents play / a game of chaupar / on a tiger rug / beneath bright mango sky. Offering a child’s perspective in her poem, Vanderwater helped me to have a lightbulb moment with the artwork. It’s not always about what we see when observing art, it’s also about what or who the artist left out, or where the scene is set. What a wonderful conversation starter! What does this art say to you? What do you think is happening here now? How does this picture make you feel? What might happen now that the child has witnessed this scene?

In my multiple readings I found myself wondering what I’d write about a certain piece of art such as Henri Rousseau’s The Repast of the Lion, but if I ever see the painting again, I’ll forever associate J. Patrick Lewis’s poem with it. Now that he’s fed and jaguar-full— / Finally his appetite is dull— And of Joan Bransfield Graham’s Great Indian Fruit Bat, a poem about a painting of the same name attributed to Bhawani Das or a follower, 1777-82  I marveled at her internal rhyme and alliteration. As my wings whisk me, swooping through / this black velvet night, who will admire / my elegant attire, the intricacy …  A bat’s point of view, fantastic!

Other featured poets are: Alma Flor Ada, Cynthia S. Cotten, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Julie Fogliano, Charles Ghigna, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Irene Latham, Elaine Magliaro, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Ann Whitford Paul, Carole Boston Weatherford and Janet Wong. Other featured artists are: Rosa Bonheur, Fernando Botero, Mary Cassatt, Liberale Da Verona, Leonardo Da Vinci, Han Gan, Martin Johnson Heade, Frank Henderson, Utagawa Hiroshige, Winslow Homer, Kerry James Marshall, José Guadalupe Posada and Ōide Tōkō.

While I can definitely see educators enjoying the book for its varying forms of poetry and the individual interpretations of the poets to accompany the magnificent works of art, I can also easily see a parent sharing the book before any museum visit or simply as a way to spark a child’s imagination. It certainly sparked mine.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Read a review of another poetry collection here.

 

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Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian

Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian is reviewed today by the newest member of the GRWR team, Dornel Cerro.

Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian and iIlustrated by Jeremy Holmes (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2014. $17.99, Ages 4-8) is a collaboration by two accomplished and prolific children’s poets whose imagination, word crafting skills, and humor know no bounds. Lewis, author of over eighty children’s books and winner of the National Council of Teachers of English 2011 Poetry award, was the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate from 2011-2013. Florian, who has written and illustrated over fifty children’s books, won Parent Magazine Best Book of the Year award in 2003 for Bow Wow Meow Meow: It’s Rhyming Cats and Dogs.

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Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian with illustrations by Jeremy Holmes, Schwartz & Wade, 2014.

The two poets have combined their prodigious writing talents to create a collection of poems about cars. Oh, I’m not talking about the boring kind we adults drive, but really wild, weird, and wacky cars. You know, the ones children would like to drive. Like “Balloon Car” (p. 20):  “My daddy drives a car that floats/an inch above the street a hundred colorful balloons/tied to a bucket seat.” Along with some luscious vocabulary (fiery, sudsy, plop, fragrant), the poets use a variety of signature techniques such as rhyme, alliteration, and word plays that tickle a child’s fancy and delight the ear:   …”I’m a battery-powered/ automobeeeeeeeeeel!” (“Electric Eel”, p. 11).  “…The cars behind our school/ Are big Tyrannosaurus wrecks …” (“Jurassic Park(ing”), p. 12).

Holmes’s digitally colored, pencil and watercolor illustrations are set against a pale background dotted with inventive, mechanical looking elements that enliven the words and increase the zaniness of the poems. Children will want to pour over the illustrations to discover all the neat objects Holmes has inserted into his illustrations.  The collection received great reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, and School Library Journal. I read this collection to my K-1 classes who laughed out loud with delight (their favorite poem was “The Banana Split Car,” of course) and found both the poems and the illustrations humorous and imaginative. Adults will enjoy sharing this with their young children (ages 4-8) and, with the intriguing selection of vocabulary and word plays, creativity, teachers will find that any poem in this collection would make a wonderful creative writing or arts and craft project.

dcParisMeet our newest reviewer, Dornel: Dornel Cerro has been a children’s librarian for 17 years and has spent the last 10 years as librarian at Sequoyah School in Pasadena.

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Animal Poetry for Kids from National Geographic

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We could not let April end without reviewing this fantastic collection of poems. It’s entitled National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs that Squeak, Soar, and Roar! (kids.nationalgeographic.com, $24.95, ages 4-8) which is just how we like our animal poetry to be.  Here’s the bonus – the book is edited by J. Patrick Lewis, the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate.

For fellow Californians, included is an evocative Haiku inspired by Bali Sardines from L.A. local, Joan Bransfield Graham:

Dancing through the waves,
ballerinas of the blue —
the ocean their stage.

You’ll also find poems from UCLA graduate and award winning poet, Janet S. Wong; Pulitzer Prize winning former U.S. Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan; Betsy Franco; and Kenn Nesbitt to name a few. Seeking poems about hamsters and honey bees? You’ll find ’em! Want to read about Roosters and Raccoons? They’re there, too. Eager for elephants? Look no further.

This treasury is really not just for 4-8 year-olds because the photographs are simply spectacular and ideally suited for each poem. I’m certain that even teens and adults will find themselves amazed at the variety of details, colors and moods conveyed in all 186 pages.  Of course all the great poets are here to enjoy, and easy to find with the Poet Index: from Aiken to Sandburg, Frost to Madox Roberts, and Rosetti to Whitman.  The helpful Subject Index, Title Index and First Line Index make this book indispensable for students. There’s also a super spread devoted to writing poems and another for resources, but the poems themselves are what we’re here for.  Broken down into manageable sections, this collection divides the poems into an intro called Welcome to the World. This is followed by other sections called The Big Ones, The Little Ones, The Winged Ones, The Water Ones, The Strange Ones, The Noisy Ones, and a Final Thought in closing.

I have nothing but praise for this marvelous book that is not only an homage to the animal kingdom and its beauty but to every word used to describe it.

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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World Rat Day and Other Poems

World Rat Day: Poems about Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard  Of written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Anna Raff, (Candlewick Press; $15.99; ages 4 and up) is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.

0763654027Any concept that poetry is high culture and addresses only the topics of love and death flies out the window with World Rat Day: Poems about Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of. Featuring over 20 poems celebrating holidays as unusual as Happy Mew Year for Cats Day (January 2), Bat Appreciation Day (mark your calendars for April 17!) or International Cephalopod Awareness Day (October 8), this compilation is silly fun wrapped in verse.

If you’re in the mood to appreciate dragons—and let’s be honest, who isn’t?!—then don’t wait until January 16 to do so. Read along as we get an inside look at dragon dining etiquette with “Eight Table Manners for Dragons.”

At every meal, bow your head, fold your wings, and say, ‘Graze.’/Wait till someone screams, ‘Let’s heat!’/Don’t talk with people in your mouth./Never blow on your soup. That only makes it hotter./Don’t smoke./Never remove a hare from your food./Play with your food, but don’t let it run around screaming./Chew your food. Once.

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Each poem has accompanying illustrations that portray the whimsy of the verses. The characters’ expressions are hilarious and the ink wash style presents the scenes perfectly. World Rat Day: Poems about Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of is a great way to start a youngster’s introduction into the world of poetry.

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All Treat, No Trick Halloween Giveaway

The leaves are changing color, there’s a cool breeze in the air, nights are longer, baseball season’s winding down, pumpkin patches are popping up on every other corner and bags of candy are already stacked a mile high on supermarket shelves. It must mean Halloween’s on the horizon. And to get the excitement brewing, we’re giving away a bunch of books for boys and ghouls (and one for parents as well) to enjoy before their big night out. Scroll to the bottom for more info after reading all the reviews.

Bedtime For BOO ($10.99, A Golden Book, ages 2 and up) written by Mickie Matheis and illustrated by Bonnie Leick is a real treat. Young Boo is going to stay up late to go a-haunting and, as little ones can imagine, Boo’s thrilled. Always with a smile on his face, Boo will swirl through the sky, whoosh past an owl and stir up the leaves as part of the fun. But soon bedtime beckons and Mama Ghost wants young Boo to go to sleep even though he claims to not be tired. “Listen to the sounds of the house,” Mama Ghost suggests. All around you can hear noises from bats flapping, footsteps tapping, mice squeaking and doors creaking. Of course there are black cats hissing and wolves howling all included in rhyme that a parent can whisper as the book nears its end. What could be scary is actually comforting when shared from a sweet little ghost’s perspective. I found the illustrations to be perfectly suited to the text and when kids are less tired they, too, will want to study every page.

Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs ($16.95, Charlesbridge, ages 7-10) written by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen with illustrations by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins is just the kind of offbeat picture book that is at times ever so subtly humorous and other times outright in your face. Either way, the variety of the verses are clever and catchy and the gray-toned artwork is moody and evocative with the occasional surprising smidgen of scarlet. Look closely, too, or you might miss some very funny touches Timmins has tossed in to keep you on your toes as you walk amongst the tombstones. Whether the creatures have been crushed, fallen ill or been struck while crossing the street (see page 6 Chicken Crosses Over), the myriad methods of demise are as hysterical as the epitaphs! I have a feeling this original and whacky poetry book might just tickle a few funny bones and get more than a few kids eager to try their hand at a few epitaphs this fall. With a chill in the autumn air, it’s really the right time of year to nurture all those budding Edgar Allan Poes.

Making a Jack-o’-Lantern, Step by Step (Captsone/A+ Books: Step-by-Step Stories, ages 5 and up) by J. Angelique Johnson is a terrific book for children parents will want to have on hand for a variety of reasons. First, the photos are fantastic!  They help to illustrate the simple, straight forward text and are so good they could work without words though not for a beginner pumpkin carver. Second, the book is divided into 4 easy steps or mini-story chapters so a child can learn sequencing along with just enjoying young Elliot’s first time helping his dad find, set-up for, prepare and finally carve a Jack-o’-Lantern. At the end readers are rewarded with seeing the fab finished product and also have a chance to participate in a photo sequencing activity.  Also provided are a helpful glossary, reading recommendations and internet sites for more fun after finishing the book.  So parents, while this may be a messy activity, it will be worth every minute! Other books in this series are: Fighting a Fire, Getting a Pet, and Recycling.

Halloween Howlers: Frightfully Funny Knock-Knock Jokes ($6.99, Harper Festival, ages 5-8) by Michael Teitelbaum with pictures by Jannie Ho will make your child’s All Hallow’s Eve and the days leading up to it a laugh a minute. Whimsical, colorful illustrations pair well with humor like “Knock, knock! Who’s there? Disguise! Disguise who? Disguise giving me the creeps!”  I counted over two dozen jokes, lots with funny lift-the-flaps that help make this inexpensive book something different to send along to school to spice up a lunch box or to stuff into a backpack to make the bus ride home a giggle fest or even to give out as a Halloween season birthday party favor.

Glitterville’s Handmade Halloween: A Glittered Guide for Whimsical Crafting! ($19.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing) by Stephen Brown (craft expert and judge on TLC’s Craft Wars) is for folks who are crafty in the positive sense of the meaning. Are you one of those people like Good Reads With Ronna reviewer Debbie Glade who can make something fantastic out of just about anything or are you like me whose claim to fame is the Pilgrim Placeholders I made for Thanksgiving six years ago from toilet paper rolls. I need good photos, good directions and a lot of motivation and this book has all of those things and then some! With 20 wickedly clever craft projects inside, Brown’s book reveals some spooktacular secrets this successful entrepreneur has gleaned from years of experience. He’ll tell you about the materials you’ll need with handy descriptions of them if you’re not familiar with things like monofilament (aka fishing line), other tools-of-the-trade, basic techniques and then with step-by-step instructions you’ll be ready to roll.  I’m partial to the witchy party hat, but maybe you’ll prefer the Chenille Pumpkin, the Spider Puppet, the Spooky Forest Sticks and (yum) Orange Candy Apples or the Bride of Franky GlitterStein table decoration. There are patterns provided in the back of the book and you can use this book as a jumping point for other happening holiday crafts.

Beginning today Monday, October 8 and then again on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 we’re reviewing and/or briefly mentioning books that we’ve read recently then giving them away the following week! So **read both posts before entering. And guess what? If  you LIKE us on Facebook and also send us your name and contact info in an email to Ronna.L.Mandel@gmail.com by midnight on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 you’ll be entered to win a prize package of all 11 books covered (worth a value of $153.77) just in time for Halloween!! Remember to write Halloween Book Giveaway in the subject line.  **YOU MUST LIST ALL BOOKS COVERED IN THE 2 BLOGS as part of your entry eligibility so be sure to read the blog every day!! Click here now for more detailed rules. Good luck!

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Killer Poems

Take a midnight stroll through Amen Creature Corners and glimpse what’s carved on the animals’ headstones.

Ronna Mandel wants to get your youngsters hyped up for Halloween with her  review of Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs ($16.95, Charlesbridge, ages 7-10) by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen with ilustrations by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins. 

I know what you’re thinking. Bizarre, morbid. Maybe. But I love this kind of offbeat picture book that is often ever so subtly humorous and other times outright in your face. Either way, the variety of the verses are clever and catchy and the gray-toned artwork is moody and evocative with the occasional smidgen of scarlet. Look closely, too, or you might miss some very funny touches Timmins has tossed in to keep you on your toes as you walk amongst the tombstones. Whether the creatures have been crushed, fallen ill or been struck while crossing the street (see page 6 Chicken Crosses Over), the myriad methods of demise are as hysterical as the epitaphs!

I have a feeling this kind of original and whacky poetry book might just tickle a few funny bones and get more than a few kids eager to try their hand at a few epitaphs this fall. With a chill in the autumn air, it’s really the right time of year to nurture all those budding Edgar Allan Poes. 

Here’s a brief sample of a few of my faves:

Good-bye to a Rowdy Rooster

Too cocky by far,
he head-butted a car. 

Flickering Moth

Here lies a moth
without a name,
who lived by the fire
and died by the flame. 

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It Takes Two, Baby

Two’s Company

Take Two!: A Celebration of Twins by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, illustrated by Sophie Blackall; ($17.99, Candlewick Press, ages 5 and up) is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.

If you are a twin, know people who are twins, or are expecting twins, pick up a copy of Take Two!  A Celebration of Twins by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. This amusing book is a compilation of 44 poems on all things twins. The cleverly titled sections (Twins in the Waiting Womb, Twinfants, How to Be One and Famous Twins) contain verses on the aspects of life that are particularly significant to twins— establishing identity, individual personality, looks, names, and so on. Both authors have experience with twins; Lewis is a twin and Yolen has many twin family members. Their experience and insight show in the topics of the poems, as the reader gets a sense of what it’s like to be a twin. Here’s an excerpt from a poem titled “Two’s a Crowd”:

If you never have a single moment/You can call your own,/Always being dubbed “the twin”/And never left alone,/You’ll understand the plight I’m in,/Wishing I were one…

The poems range from sentimental to tongue in cheek. Each poem is written with language and in a style that children can understand and enjoy. Sophie Blackall’s illustrations are bright, colorful and a touch mischievous, much like the poems themselves. Catching the details in her pictures is an enjoyable way to complement the reading of the poems. My daughters (not twins) and I had a good time looking at the different expressions and actions that Sophie Blackwell cleverly portrays.

Throughout the book are scientific and fun facts about twins. For example, did you know that conjoined twins occur in about 1 out of 400,000 twin births? The record holder for the highest number of twin births belongs to Mrs. Feodor Vassilyev, who birthed an astonishing 16 sets of twins in the 1700s.

Take Two!: A Celebration of Twins makes for a fun poetry read on a subject that holds much fascination, especially to children. Of course, if you’re going to give the book as a gift to twins, you might want to pick up a second copy. 

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