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SCHOOL PEOPLE by Lee Bennett Hopkins


edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins ; illustrated by Ellen Shi

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-62979-703-8
Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Poems about school staff aim to reassure anxious young students.

Prolific anthologist Hopkins encourages his audience with a series of poems describing school personnel, from the bus driver and crossing guard to the librarian and sympathetic nurse. He opens with the building’s welcome—“I am waiting—come on in!”—from Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Most adults are described from a child’s point of view. Matt Forrest Esenwine’s bus driver has a “good-morning smile.” In Michele Krueger’s art teacher’s room, “my imagination soars.” Irene Latham’s music teacher makes us “walk in music like morning rain.” Shi’s digital illustrations show students of varying ethnicities and a staff diverse in age and gender though not so much in race. They add significant details. The white custodian smilingly feeds a guinea pig; the brown-skinned, male librarian wears groovy shades. A small dog follows the children who walk to school and is waiting for its owner, a little brown-skinned child, at the end of the day. This surprisingly even collection includes short poems by 14 different authors including the compiler. These are mostly free verse, with two exceptions. The rhyming couplets Darren Sardelli uses to describe the custodian come as a pleasing change of pace. Alma Flor Ada takes advantage of the rhyming sounds of Spanish to celebrate learning that will “spice up / a world / twice as flavorful.”

Useful, if not vital, for a back-to-school collection and good for reading aloud.

(Picture book/poetry. 4-7)