A variety of verses

Poetry can rhyme, or not. It can take interesting shapes, or just use straightforward lines. These collections for primary and intermediate readers are great examples of the many forms poetry can take. Look for our What Makes Good Poetry? newsletter in your inbox on April 27, 2016.

fogliano_when green becomes tomatoesWhen Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano 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; most of the illustrations show a little girl interacting with nature. She welcomes the coming spring; enjoys a summertime picnic at the beach; makes a leaf pile in fall; and imagines herself as a snowflake. Julie 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. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 5–8 years)

raczka_wet cementGraphic design meets riddle meets visual wordplay in Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems, Bob 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 titles make their wry points with an immediate impression: for instance, the is of the word icicle turn upside down, and one begins to melt. The poems themselves variously involve reading aloud, turning the page upside-down, and in one case, reading in a mirror. Wet Cement provides an entertaining chance to dig deep into words and their meanings. (Roaring Brook, 5–8 years)

viorst_what are you glad aboutWhat Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem is full of Judith Viorst's characteristic wry humor and sharp observation about the range of feelings children experience in their everyday lives. Viorst plays with school subjects such as reading, writing, and "arithmetrick," but the strongest poems go to the heart of emotions, such as worrying (about sharks at the beach, for example, and also about changing friendships). Lee White's illustrations bring zany humor to the poems, and even sometimes add their own little twists. This collection should delight kids as well as the adults who read it aloud to them. (Atheneum/Dlouhy, 5–8 years)

brown_slickety quickIn Skila Brown's playful and illuminating Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks, poems almost as varied as the creatures themselves introduce such species as the great white shark, wobbegong, goblin shark, and frilled shark. A double-page spread for each species featured gives the subjects plenty of room, while creative use of type placement and size emphasize physical attributes, behavior, or temperament. Bob Kolar's dynamic digital illustrations in blues, greens, and browns immerse readers in the underwater habitat. An accessible and engaging appreciation of these fascinating animals. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

From the April 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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