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Recommended Poetry: Intermediate

fogliano_when green becomes tomatoesFogliano, Julie When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons
56 pp. Roaring Brook/Porter 2016. ISBN 978-1-59643-852-1

Illustrated by Julie Morstad. The book begins and ends on “march 20” with a blue bird on a flowering tree branch (and with the same poem). In between are poems for days throughout the year. Morstad’s gouache and pencil crayon pictures and Fogliano’s poetry are delicately precise, gracefully and economically expressed, and filled with the wonder of genuine childhood experience.
Subjects: Poetry; Seasons

hopkins_amazing placesHopkins, Lee Bennett Amazing Places
40 pp. Lee 2015. ISBN 978-1-60060-653-3

Illustrated by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale. Each of fourteen poems centers on one particular location in the U.S. The focus is as much on people as on scenery, with many of the poems written in the first person. Soentpiet and Hale combine their talents to showcase the special elements of a place as well as the response of people to it. An impressively diverse, polished, and inspiring collection. Information about the sites is appended.
Subjects: Poetry; History, American; National parks and reserves

janczko_death of the hatJaneczko, Paul B. The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects
80 pp. Candlewick 2015. ISBN 978-0-7636-6963-8

Illustrated by Chris Raschka. In their fourth collaboration, Janeczko and Raschka offer readers fifty poems, a variety of selections from the early Middle Ages to the postmodern and contemporary movements. That all the poems are about objects unifies the collection; their chronological organization provides structure (however, there is no index or information on place of origin). Soft, impressionistic watercolors showcase each poem and visually encourage continuous reading.
Subjects: Poetry Collections

lewis_voices from the march on washingtonLewis, J. Patrick and Lyon, George Ella Voices from the March on Washington
114 pp. Boyds/Wordsong 2014. ISBN 978-1-62091-785-5

Poets Lewis and Lyon here give voice to a cross-section of the 250,000 participants of the 1963 March on Washington: from first grader Ruby May Hollingsworth and Aki Kimura, a Japanese American sent to an internment camp during WWII, to Coretta Scott King. Many fine works on the civil rights movement are available; this adds the power of poetic imagination. Reading list, websites. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Poetry; Race relations; African Americans; Washington (DC); Civil rights; Activism; Prejudices; King, Martin Luther, Jr.

orgill_jazz dayOrgill, Roxane Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph
54 pp. Candlewick 2016. ISBN 978-0-7636-6954-6

Illustrated by Francis Vallejo. On August 12, 1958, fifty-plus jazz musicians gathered in Harlem for a group photo shoot. This iconic photo is the springboard for a series of twenty-one poems and a set of personality-rich illustrations. The words take you back to the photo — reproduced here as a gatefold spread — and the excellent list of sources leads you back to the music. Bib.
Subjects: Poetry; Music—Jazz; Musicians; Photography

raczka_wet cementRaczka, Bob Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems
44 pp. Roaring Brook 2016. ISBN 978-1-62672-236-1

Graphic design meets riddle meets visual wordplay in Raczka’s collection of sturdy and joyful perspectives on the ordinary stuff of the world. Each offering consists of a one-word title and a more extended poem. The poems themselves variously involve reading aloud, turning the page upside-down, and in one case, reading in a mirror. An entertaining chance to dig deep into words and their meanings.
Subjects: Poetry—Concrete poems

schmidt_pond full of inkSchmidt, Annie M. G. A Pond Full of Ink
40 pp. Eerdmans 2014. ISBN 978-0-8028-5433-9

Translated by David Colmer. Illustrated by Sieb Posthuma. A skinny, long-nosed poet fills his pen from the ink pond in his garden and offers the reader a selection of story poems featuring personalities old and young, human and animal, animate and inanimate. The wordplay is energetic; healthy handfuls of enjambment mitigate against dreary dum-di-dum; and the small narratives celebrate lateral thinking, community, and kindness.
Subjects: Poetry; Books in translation

viorst_what are you glad aboutViorst, Judith What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem
102 pp. Atheneum/Dlouhy 2016. ISBN 978-1-4814-2355-7
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-2355-1

Illustrated by Lee White. Viorst’s collection of over fifty poems expresses wry humor and sharp observation about the range of feelings children experience in their everyday lives. Subjects include school, friends, and family; the strongest poems go to the heart of feelings (such as the one about breaking up with a best friend). White’s illustrations bring zany humor, and even sometimes add their own little twist.
Subjects: Poetry—Humorous Poetry

woodson_brown girl dreamingWoodson, Jacqueline Brown Girl Dreaming
328 pp. Penguin/Paulsen 2014. ISBN 978-0-399-25251-8

A memoir-in-verse so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing Woodson’s childhood along with her. We see young Jackie grow up not just in historical context but also in the context of extended family, community, and religion (she was raised Jehovah’s Witness). Most notably, we trace her development as a nascent writer. The poetry here sings: specific, lyrical, and full of imagery.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Religion—Jehovah’s Witnesses; Women—Authors; Writing; Authors; Women—Autobiographies; Autobiographies; Women—Biographies; Poetry; African Americans; Women—African Americans

 

Added April 2017:

alexander_out of wonderAlexander, Kwame Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
50 pp. Candlewick 2017. ISBN 978-0-7636-8094-7

With Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth. Illustrated by Ekua Holmes. Twenty poems written by Alexander, Colderley, and Wentworth, each one “celebrating” another notable poet, are divided into three sections. The poems in “Got Style” pay tribute to highlighted poets by mimicking their styles; those in “In Your Shoes” incorporate their feelings and themes; and “Thank You” acknowledges and thanks particular poets. The celebrated poets and represent a wide range of cultures and time periods. Vibrant, arresting mixed-media collages complement and extend the poems’ themes and rich imagery.
Subjects: Poetry

argueta_somos-como-las-nubesArgueta, Jorge Somos como las nubes / We Are like the Clouds
32 pp. Groundwood 2016. ISBN 978-1-55498-849-5
Ebook ISBN 978-1-55498-850-1

Illustrated by Alfonso Ruano. Translated by Elisa Amado. Argueta’s bilingual collection gives voice to refugee children who emigrate from Central American countries to the United States in search of safety or better lives. The poems, written in the first person, present the candid perspective of the children’s experiences; they include whimsical imagery but also scary threats. Delicate illustrations present both realistic portrayals and surreal depictions that complement the textual imagery.
Subjects: Poetry; Refugees; Foreign languages—Spanish language; Immigration; Central America; Bilingual books; Books in translation

atkins_finding wondersAtkins, Jeannine Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science
198 pp. Atheneum 2016. ISBN 978-1-4814-6565-6
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-6567-0

The stories, in poetry, of three self-taught female scientists: in seventeenth-century Germany, Maria Sibylla Merian studies silkworm metamorphosis; in eighteenth-century England, Mary Anning develops paleontological skills selling fossils to keep her siblings fed; and Maria Mitchell joins her father at his telescope on nineteenth-century Nantucket. Atkins guides readers through themes that connect the women’s scientific quests and zeroes in on small but telling moments. Bib.
Subjects: Collective Biographies; Anning, Mary; Poetry; Women—Biographies; Scientists; Women—Scientists; Merian, Maria Sibylla; Gender roles; Mitchell, Maria

bryan_freedom-over-meBryan, Ashley Freedom over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life
56 pp. Atheneum/Dlouhy 2016. ISBN 978-1-4814-5690-6
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-5691-3

Bryan restores humanity to ten real-life slaves listed for sale on an 1828 document (plus one fictional slave), giving them ages, African names, relationships, talents, and dreams. Each individual receives two spreads of poetry: the first serves as introduction (accompanied by a wood carving–like portrait, suggesting the mask each wears for day-to-day life on the plantation); the second (illustrated in brilliant colors) is devoted to his or her dreams.
Subjects: Poetry; History, American—Plantation life; Dreams and dreaming; African Americans; Slave trade; Slavery; Prejudices; Race relations

grimes_one last wordGrimes, Nikki One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance
120 pp. Bloomsbury 2017. ISBN 978-1-61963-554-8
Ebook ISBN 978-1-61963-555-5

This tribute to the great poets of the Harlem Renaissance offers new verse with contemporary settings using an unusual form called Golden Shovel, in which each line of the new poem ends with one of the words in a line from the original. Themes of the new poems include self-pride, aspirations, bullying, and peer relations. A clean layout juxtaposes each original poem with its new verse. The poems are complemented by original artistic interpretations by fifteen black artists (e. g., E. B. Lewis, Javaka Steptoe, Christopher Myers, Shadra Strickland) who offer absorbing and engaging images. Bib. Ind.
Subjects: Poetry; African Americans; Harlem (New York, NY); Harlem Renaissance

weatherford_you can flyWeatherford, Carole Boston You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen
82 pp. Atheneum 2016. ISBN 978-1-4814-4938-0
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-4940-3

Illustrated by Jeffery Boston Weatherford. Thirty-two second-person poems and dramatic scratchboard illustrations bring to life the experiences of the pilots, bombardiers, maintenance workers, and navigators trained to fly and maintain combat aircraft at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute during World War II. Informative, evocative poems follow the Airmen from the early vision to the flyers’ experiences at home and abroad, as they fought another war — against prejudice. Reading list, timeline, websites.
Subjects: Poetry; African Americans; History, Modern—World War II; Vehicles—Airplanes; Pilots; Tuskegee Airmen; United States Army; Race relations; Prejudices

From the April 2016 issue of What Makes a Good…?: “What Makes Good Poetry?”

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