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Poetrees | Class #5, 2015

PoetreesAs you know if you’ve read Susan Lempke’s article, there are lots and lots of books with poems about a particular subject — enough to read one every day of the school year. As she says, some work better than others as poems.

What do you think of this one? Florian has several volumes of this kind: poems about planets, amphibians, fish, mammals, seasons, etc. I think his poems and art work on several levels. In most cases, they are both simple and quite sophisticated.

One thing to bear in mind as you read any book that has multiple poems: you are not necessarily supposed to read the whole book in one sitting. Poems need breathing room, both on the page and in time. They are meant to be savored one at a time, so if you are reading this book all at once, give yourself a few beats to digest the words and images before you move on to the next one.

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. Sara Gordon says:

    I thought this book was beautiful in both its text and illustrations. I found the watercolor illustrations simple at first glance, but very intricate after looking more closely. I loved the different styles and organization of the writing (i.e. some of the text was organized into certain shapes, others written in a circular form, others written “normally,” etc.). Also, as we had discussed in class, with informational text and assessing accuracy of the facts, there is a “Glossatree” (which I think is adorable, especially because it aligns with the “Poetrees” title!) at the end, along with an Author’s Note that cites five texts that he (the author) used for information while writing. While this book seems to be written for children, as an adult I definitely learned from it (as I am not a tree expert) and would probably learn from it each time I read it! It was helpful advice, also, to read slowly and take breaks between every few poems, as it otherwise became overwhelming to soak it all in.

  2. Annie Thomas says:

    This book is awesome. I love the illustrations and how the words are on the page match what is happening in the poem. The lend to the artful nature of the poems and stick to poetry as art. I loved the different words Florian used to describe the thickness of the Baobob tree, and I think children could definitely think of this poem when trying to remember various vocabulary words.

    The illustrations were fantastic and fun and the whimsical nature of the drawings lent itself to the spunky-ness of the poetry.

  3. Geri Low says:

    I wished I came across this book as a child! Back then, poetry always seemed quite dry. Poetrees help bring poetry to life in the way the book was designed. I liked how all poems centered around one theme, and focused on different aspects of the theme. The way the words were displayed helped to show the beauty of the poem. I also liked that the book was displayed in an unconventional fashion – flipping upwards instead of across. In a way, this felt like a non-fiction informational book, rather than one that is purely an artform because there’s so much detail to learn in each of the poems!

  4. Kasey Michel says:

    love love love the interplay between the words and the pictures; much like Lolly said, I found that the illustrations were both simple and sophisticated, subtle and explicit. I think the intricacies of the images helped me to spend more time on each poem, seeing it as its own entity before flipping the page and moving on to the next. I found that as I allowed my eyes to wander the whole page I found things I had overlooked: words within the tree branches, animals hiding behind trunks of trees, and lots and lots of hands. I have not been able to share this book with anyone yet but look forward to having the chance to read the poems aloud and seeing what else I may have missed within the illustrations

  5. Hannah Hanssens-Reed says:

    I agree with the other comments, that this book has a certain magic. I began by reading in my head, but then returned to the Seed poem and read the poems aloud. There is a natural rhythm to all of them, something that I remember connecting with as a child. Even the simple change in how the book opens was appealing, challenging the typical book orientation, suggesting the length of a tree growing upward. There were some illustrations that I loved, especially when the text’s shape matched the words. And the few illustrations that I liked less I still appreciated in their brightness, joy, and the way they used all of the page. I loved this book and will continue to come back to it.

  6. Moses Kim says:

    The very first poem I read in this book was in a figure-8 shape, an immediate trick out of left field: this book felt like unwrapping a Christmas present with seven different layers. I love the spatial arrangements of the text, and I imagine kids may find it rewarding to engage with the book physically. I think the art style here has a softness to it that makes even darker images feel warm and full of life: this would be a good resource to have on a field trip to the outdoors. I also appreciate how the book delivers information in a surreal, playful way.

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