We are halfway through National Poetry Month, so before the other half gets away from me, let's talk verse. While poetry is relegated to the sidelines in books for adults, it enjoys considerably more respect in the children's-book world. This year offers a number of terrific collections as well as a couple of notable books, all published just in time to be celebrated this month.

Kwame Alexander joins forces with co-authors Chris Colderly and Marjory Wentworth and illustrator Ekua Holmes for Out of Wonder, a stunning, inventive collection of tributes to poets past and present. The authors' verses celebrate and evoke the work of such greats as Rumi, e.e. cummings, Pablo Neruda, and Gwendolyn Brooks, that "Bronzeville lady / Way past cool / voice like butter / melting blues."

In Fresh-Picked Poetry, author Michelle Schaub offers a mouth-watering trip to the farmers’ market, her lines often integrated directly into Amy Huntington's illustrations, as in the scents that waft tantalizingly past, including "a hint of some cinnamon dusted on cupcakes, a sniff of plump blackberries tucked into pies."

What's under the earth is the focus of Jane Yolen's Thunder Underground, illustrated by Josée Masse. There miracles happen, including the way a seed grows: "This dot, / this spot, / this period at the end / of winter's sentence / writes its way up / through the dull slate of soil / into the paragraph of spring."

Continue reading >


Vicky_poetrybodyimageJohn Keats' nonsense poem, A Song About Myself, gives Chris Raschka's illustrations ample room to play with its tale of "a naughty boy" who packs "In his Knapsack / A book / Full of vowels / And a shirt / With some towels" and takes off on a sonically rumbustious adventure.

And on the other end of the audience spectrum—though equally naughty—David Elliott tells the story of the Minotaur in Bull, a series of earthy, dramatic monologues in verse. Poseidon sets the tone: "Whaddup, bitches? / Am I right or am I right? / That bum Minos deserved what he got."


Vicky Smith is the children's & teen editor.