Tag Archives: poetry

Remembering James Stevenson

You might know the work of James Stevenson whether you are a child or a grown-up. He was a cartoonist at the New Yorker for many years. He also illustrated books for children, including his own stories and poetry, poetry by Jack Prelutsky, and stories about “The Pain and the Great One” by Judy Blume. We would be happy to help you find his work in our collection or place a hold on titles available at another library.

More interesting women: Beyond picture books

aw
Amazing Women by Caryn Jenner
Shares the experiences of important women in history, including Aung San Suu Kyi, Arianna Huffington, and Madam C.J. Walker.

fnf
Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights by Mark Cronk Farrell
Traces the life of Fannie Sellins, a union activist who traveled the nation promoting fair wages and decent working and living conditions for workers in the garment and mining industries.

fw3
Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins
A novel in verse about three girls from different time periods who grew up to become scientists introduces the lives of insect life-cycle artist Maria Merian, fossil pioneer Mary Anning, and comet discoverer Maria Mitchell.

kgfl
A Kids’ Guide to America’s First Ladies by Kathleen Krull; illustrated by Anna Divito
Examines Americas first ladies and how they helped advance women’s rights, political causes and other important progressive changes.

mg
Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly into the Twentieth Century by Sue Macy
Presents the first generation of female motorists who drove cars for fun, profit, and to make a statement about the evolving role of women.

African American History in Poetry

fics
Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square.
This title received honors as a Caldecott Honor Book and a King Illustrator Honor Book this year.

jday
Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxanne Orgill; illustrated by Francis Vallejo
When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day. Francis Vallejo’s vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author’s note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane’s famous photograph.

letsclap
Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin, and Turn It Out! Games, Songs, & Stories from an African American Childhood collected by Patricia C. McKissack; illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Parents and grandparents will delight in sharing this exuberant book with the children in their lives. Here is a songbook, a storybook, a poetry collection, and much more, all rolled into one. Find a partner for hand claps such as “Eenie, Meenie, Sassafreeny,” or form a circle for games like “Little Sally Walker.” Gather as a family to sing well-loved songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Oh, Freedom,” or to read aloud the poetry of such African American luminaries as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. And snuggle down to enjoy classic stories retold by the author, including Aesop’s fables and tales featuring Br’er Rabbit and Anansi the Spider.

1last
One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking. This special book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today’s most exciting African American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki’s original poems.
Nikki Grimes is the 2017 winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”

pforp
A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney
A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day. The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and … it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book. For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers

youcan
You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford; art by Jeffery Boston Weatherford
This history in verse celebrates the story of the Tuskegee Airmen: pioneering African-American pilots who triumphed in the skies and past the color barrier.

7 Principles

2016 is the 50th anniversary of the creation of the holiday Kwanzaa.  There still aren’t a lot of picture book published about the holiday (Kevin’s Kwanzaa is the only new one in the collection since I last wrote about the topic), so instead I’m going to suggest some titles that go along with the principles of Kwanzaa:

Umoja (unity)

goalsb
Goal! by Mina Javaherbin
In a dangerous alley in a township in South Africa, the strength and unity which a group of young friends feel while playing soccer keep them safe when a gang of bullies arrives to cause trouble.

Kujichagulia (self-determination)

itoo
I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier
Presents the popular poem by one of the central figures in the Harlem Renaissance, illustrated with images of Pullman porters and a contemporary child riding the subway.
Some other suggestions for this principle would be Princess Grace or My Friend Maya Loves to Dance (which could both also be used to introduce kente cloth), Thunder Rose (an original tall tale about a girl who starts life by controlling the lightning and picking her own name), or another Langston Hughes poem, My People.

Ujima (collective work and responsibility)

hhoop
The Hula Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Kameeka yearns to continue her hula hooping competition with her rival, Jamara, rather than help prepare for Miz Adeline’s birthday party, and “the itch” almost ruins the party before a surprise ending.

Ujamaa (cooperative economics)

dgift
Destiny’s Gift by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley; illustrated by Adjoa J. Burrowes
Destinys favorite place in the world is Mrs. Wade’s bookstore, so when she finds out it may close she stirs the community to help out, then works on a special gift of her own to encourage Mrs. Wade.
Two more books about this principle are The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore and Uncle Jed’s Barbershop.

Nia (purpose)

giants
Giant Steps to Change the World by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Sean Qualls
Pursuing one’s own path in life takes courage, strength, and perseverance, as demonstrated by such inspirational leaders as Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, and Muhammad Ali.

Kuumba (creativity):

mman
Metal Man by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Paul Hoppe
One hot summer day, a man who makes sculpture out of junk helps a boy create what he sees in his mind’s eye.

Imani (faith)

shout
Shouting by Joyce Carol Thomas
A colorful salute to faith and gospel music links Black church traditions to the rhythms of Africa.
You might also like a story about a character named Imani, like Imani in the Belly or Imani’s Gift at Kwanzaa.

nefo
Never Forgotten by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, is a fable-like book that brings together themes of family unity and creativity.  It’s longer than a standard picture book, but beautifully illustrated throughout.  A boy and his father are cruelly separated, and the elements Earth, Fire, Water and Wind bring the father news of the son’s fate.  In a note at the end, the author writes, “…I have tried to create a story that addresses the question all of us who are descendants of the Taken ask: ‘Were we missed?’  I answer with a resounding ‘Yes! We were never forgotten.'”

If you would like a book that puts Kwanzaa in a context of other holidays celebrated with candles, fireworks, and festive bonfires, try

light
Lighting Our World: A Year of Celebrations by Catherine Rondina; illustrated by Jacqui Oakley
Starting with Up Helly Aa in January and finishing with Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa in December, you can explore religious and secular festivals around the world.

Remembering a great writer

August 19 marks the 80th anniversary of the death of poet and playwright Federico García Lorca during the Spanish Civil War.  Here are a few books in Spanish and English for introducing the writer and his work to children:

fgl
Federico García Lorca by Georgina Lázaro León
This picture book biography in Spanish was awarded a Pura Belpré Author Honor in 2010.
Poetic text recounts the childhood of the noted Spanish poet, including his love for the nature and folklore of his native Andalusia, his introduction to music and literature at home, and his health problems.

yo
You’re on! Seven Plays in English and Spanish, selected by Lori Marie Carlson
This selection includes “The girl who waters basil and the very inquisitive prince” in English and “La nina que riega la albahaca y el principe pregunton” in Spanish.

tdpp
Tomie dePaola’s Book of Poems
An illustrated collection of poems by various authors includes “Cancion Tonta” (Silly Song) and “Caracola” (Snail) in both Spanish and English.

fop
A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children, selected by Caroline Kennedy
An anthology of poems includes a different interpretation of “Caracola,” titled “Seashell,” in English.

Eve Merriam at 100

Poet Eve Merriam would have been 100 years old today.  She is known for writing everything from children’s picture books to poems for adults.  Here are some of her books that you can find at the library; her poems are also included in several poetry collections.

Goodnight to Annie: An Alphabet Lullaby
In alphabetical order, creatures all over the world fall asleep, from alligators dozing in the mud to zebras asleep on their sides.

oms
On My Street
This book is a good example of how families can make rhymes out of the ordinary people, places, and activities they see around them, like “Mr. Sklar washing his car” or “Pat at the laundromat.”

Ms. Merriam’s poems for older children are often playful.  Here’s one from Blackberry Ink:

Cat cat cat on the bed,
Bed’s too soft, it jumps on my head.
Head head, head’s too hard,
Cat wriggles out into the yard.
Yard yard, cat slips away
Over to the playground where the children play.
Playground seesaw, who wants to ride?
Cat’s all ready on the other side

chortles
Chortles: New and Selected Wordplay Poems

The Singing Green: New and Selected Poems for All Seasons features some poems that are about poetry– I could see these coming in handy for an English teacher.

spooky
Spooky ABC features spooky illustrations by Lane Smith (you probably recognize his style from books like The Stinky Cheese Man).
A poem for each letter of the alphabet introduces a different, spooky aspect of Halloween.

 

John Ciardi at 100

rpelican

John Ciardi, author of funny poetry books like The Reason for the Pelican, Doodle Soup, Fast and Slow, and Mummy Took Cooking Lessons, was born 100 years ago.  Here’s a sample of his poetry that seems perfectly suited to an election year:

 

We all have thought a lot about you by John Ciardi

Two hundred twenty thousand, five hundred twenty-three
Registered local voters (well, yes, including me)
Were asked to vote in secret on what to do with you.
Two hundred twenty thousand five hundred twenty-two
Voted to put you in a cage and throw away the key.

That isn’t quite unanimous, but I think you will agree
That as a test of sentiment their vote will surely do
To indicate what seems to be a rather general view
Shared by the mayor, the aldermen, your teachers, the police,
The deputy dog-catcher, the man who makes the keys,
The man who makes the cages, and the keeper of the zoo.
You might say everyone in town–no, that’s not strictly true–
But almost everyone in town takes a dim view of you.