Monday, April 19, 2010

When the world is puddle-wonderful...

In addition to a time of tulips and mud-luscious puddles, April is Poetry Month! You can celebrate with poems hilarious or poems dolorous, poems tall or poems small...whatever poem suits you, shout it all the time (they don't even need to rhyme).

Jack Prelutsky has been the Children's Poet Laureate - and he's up there with the ranks of Shel Silverstein and Dr Seuss for amusing kids with rhymes. Try out Something Big Has Been Here - it's recently in paperback, so it makes having a big collection of poems that much more affordable and comfortable. These poems can amuse preschoolers through elementary age, lots of talk of underwear, dinosaurs, and general silliness. One of my favorites is "Mold, Mold", which begins:

Mold, mold,
marvelous mold,
alluring to look at,
enthralling to hold...

For older humorists, The Tighty Whitey Spider by Kevin Nesbitt is full of "wacky animal poems" about yaks playing basketball, a lost chameleon, and of course, a spider that gets a tighty whitey wedgie (to the tune of the Itsy Bitsy Spider). You can download the poems as read by the author on the book's website. Also try Nesbitt's second collection, My Hippo Has the Hiccups.

The Tree That Time Built takes a different approach to poetry. This collection, edited by our current Children's Poet Laureate, Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston, a teacher, contains dreamy, wondrous poems about science and nature. The sections are divided into topics like "Prehistoric praise" and "Everything that lives wants to fly." The book includes an audio CD with selections of poetry and a glossary of terms.

My absolute favorite for teens is Poetry Speaks Who I Am, edited by Elise Paschen. I do love the Poetry Speaks project, and this is an incredible collection. The poets range from contemporary to classic, and the organization is brilliant: Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" across from Samuel Menashe's "Prowess", Shakespeare's sonnet # 130 ("My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun..") alongside "Litany" from Billy Collins. Of course, an audio CD of selected poems is included. If you've missed earlier books from this series, try out Poetry Speaks to Children, also edited by Elise Paschen and Hip Hop Speaks to Children, edited by Nikki Giovanni.

Since April is also Roald Dahl month, we can't forget Dahl's various collections of poetry! His chapter books are known for their bizarre humor and kind of gross weirdness, and his poems don't disappoint there. Revolting Rhymes are retold fairy tales in which the heroes or heroines are necessarily always heroic (Jack escapes the Giant in the beanstalk because he finally bathes!). Also try Dirty Beasts, or Vile Verses, which contains both Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts and poems from the chapter books.

In addition to these choices, we have a whole poetry section with other anthologies and collections ranging from Mother Goose, Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses and individual poet selections. For beginning poetry enthusiasts, I recommend the Poetry for Young People series; they are short, illustrated books from writers such as Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll, and so on.

No comments: