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Poetrees | Class #5, 2016

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
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.
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John Travis

Thank to all of the previous commentators who have lifted up design as a central component of this work. The design elements of Poetrees are most essential for understanding the experience of reading it. The book opens up, not sideways, with the orientation of a calendar. The illustrations look like they were made on folded paper bags and the title page lists a range of media from gouache water color paints to rubber stamps. The mixed media give a full aesthetic experience that is full of symbolism, the heart of any good poetry. Even just examining the first poem about a seed, you see the combination of picture and text setting to convey the infinite circle of possibility found in a single seed. I found it very compelling.

Posted : Apr 26, 2016 08:50


Addie Webb

Like others have already commented, I loved the design of this book and the illustrations, which felt very natural and whimsical (not at all overworked or commercial) like the poems themselves. I especially loved the poem entitled "Coconut Palm", which I felt really captured the spirit of a coconut tree. I had never thought about how the coconut tree is not one that you climb leisurely, but rather "scurry up and hurry" until reading this poem. Reading it aloud also brought out the rhythmic humor of the word choice, especially "for coco I am loco", which I can see children really enjoying!

Posted : Apr 26, 2016 08:44


Montserrat Cubillos

I was impressed of how little green is needed to illustrate a book about trees. The way the illustrator broadens the color palette and plays with textures is very impressive. In one of the poems, I was pleased to find our very own Chilean Araucaria, but completely taken aback by the name they call it! I cannot believe the beautiful native name is translated into "Monkey Tree"! I wonder, as well, why did the author choose to mix tree-related "concepts" (like rings and roots) with different tree species (like baobabs and oaks). Also, does the order in which trees are presented respond to a certain reason?

Posted : Apr 26, 2016 08:42


Gabby Cohn

I enjoyed the poems and design of this book (particularly the earthy vibes of the illustrations and color choices). As a child, I loved reading and writing poetry. However, like others mentioned, not every student loves poetry. In my personal experience, I've found that young readers tend to enjoy poetry, especially poems that rhyme. This book presents an exciting way for students to learn and memorize new information. This book caters to different elementary subjects; literature, reading, science and even art. In case there are students that don't like poetry, they can still refer to the "Glossatree" in the back of the book. Overall, I loved the creative, beautiful nature of this book.

Posted : Apr 26, 2016 07:59


Andrew Bauld

This is a very attractive book to look at, and I appreciate the format choice, as it doesn't come off as a gimmick and fits the subject matter, but I really had trouble getting past the poems themselves. As a teacher, and whenever I tried to teach poetry, kids would always complain that they hated poems, especially writing their own, because they held the expectation that poems all sounded a certain way because of only being exposed to traditional rhymes. I think it would have been so much stronger if this book had played with a few different forms (maybe even just a few blank verse poems) to show young readers that poems, just like trees, come in all different shapes and sizes.

Posted : Apr 26, 2016 07:20


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