From the Muse -- (Poetry Collections for Children)

By Higgs, Jessica | Teacher Librarian, September-October 1998 | Go to article overview

From the Muse -- (Poetry Collections for Children)


Higgs, Jessica, Teacher Librarian


When our feelings are captured by words, the result is poetry. When these words are shared, a bond is created between reader and poet, a bond that can last a lifetime. These poetry collections will introduce children to the scope and power of our language and our emotions.

The beauty of the best: Poems from the animal kingdom. Selected by Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Meilo So. Alfred Knopf, 1997. 101 pp. $25. 0-697-87058-X. Grades K-5.

They are all here--the insects, "in trillions we thrive"; the sea creatures, "jubilant we swim"; the reptiles and amphibians "dragons in miniature"; the birds "hollow boned singers"; and the mammals, "wrapped in coats of fur." Prelutsky has selected works from 100 twentieth-century poets for each of these categories and prefaced each section with a haiku of his own. This book appears as boundless as the animal kingdom itself. The large pages covered in verse and illustration seem barely able to contain the activity and emotion. This is due to the wonderful paintings of Meilo So. Her watercolors are powerful despite the delicate brushstrokes; the colors are at times vibrant and at others gentle and subtle. The poetry reveals animals in all sorts of moods and situations, providing the reader with an alternative and often thought-provoking viewpoint. This beautifully designed collection will bring readers back again and again, to journey on their own personal safaris.

Bone poems. Jeff Moss. Illustrated by Tom Leigh. Workman, 1997. 78 pp. $19.95. 0-7611-0884-X. Grades 3-6.

In this wonderful collection of "prehistoric" verse, Moss espouses the virtues of bones, especially the mighty ones left behind by the dinosaurs. Rhythmic and silly, these verses beg to be memorized--"Do you really want a neighbor with teeth like a saber?" or "Bones are important, They do a big job, Without them you'd just be a big squooshy blob." The illustrations match the tone of the poems perfectly. The line drawings shaded with blue and gray contain the same humor and cheekiness but despite the revelry it is clear both author and illustrator take their metier seriously. Included is a pronunciation guide to the difficult dinosaur names and other awkward words, as well as a Dinosaur Math Quiz. As for the bones themselves, Moss suggests that kids "Go to a museum, and see 'em."

Classic book of best loved children's poems. Edited by Virginia Mattingly. Courage, 1997. 56 pp. $14.95. 0-7624-0100-1. Grades 1-4.

This nostalgic look at some favorite and well-loved poems features works by Lear ("The owl and the pussy cat"), Wordsworth ("Daffodils"), and Amy Lowell ("The crescent moon"), to name a few. An original illustration accompanies each of the 45 wide-ranging poems. A pleasant introduction to both the richness of language and the rituals of childhood.

Counting crocodiles. Judy Sierra. Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. Gulliver Books, 1997. Unpaged. $15. 0-15-200192-1. Grades K-3.

A tale in rhyme about one clever monkey outsmarting numerous crocodiles. After eating all the lemons on her island tree, the monkey longs for some bananas she spies on another island, across the Sillabobble Sea. But the sea is filled with crocodiles who are hungry for a monkey lunch. Fortunately, the little monkey knows how to count and the crocodiles don't. The poem has great rhythm and readers will bounce along just like Monkey as she leaps from back to back of the unsuspecting crocodiles--all the way across the sea to the banana tree. The illustrations are lively and mischievious. Remember to watch the monkey carefully.

Dinosaur dinner (with a slice of alligator pie) favorite poems. Dennis Lee. Selected by Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Debbie Tilley. Knopf, 1997. 32 pp. $17. 0-679-87009-1. Grades K-3.

A collection for younger readers and listeners, this volume contains some of Dennis Lee's best poems, including the immortal "Alligator pie." The humor in the poetry is admirably matched by Tilley's appealing illustrations. …

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