Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cybils Poetry Books

Cybils2013SmallPoetry is a tough category, because so many children's picture books rhyme. Are they all poems? When does a picture book become an illustrated poem? And it's hard for me to drag along the rest of my family -- a few years ago I'd sneak in a poem each night as part of our reading, but somehow the habit of reading with my kids at night has fallen away. We read in our separate beds, and make sure we overlap at least one book a month with our family book club (a good excuse to go out and eat sushi!).

So I'm glad I'm not a judge. I have almost no experience of kids liking poetry. I know the Cybils tries to pair kid appeal with adult assessments of quality, and on that basis I'd have have to give the nod to Follow Follow although my favorite read of these books was Poems to Learn By Heart. Both my kids vote for Follow Follow but I barely count that since they refused to read most of the other books.

I now peek at the winner and it was: Forest Has a Song.
  1. Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems, Marilyn Singer. I read this last year when it came out -- my family is a big fan of Reverso poems. We liked it, but without the wild enthusiasm of the first book.
  2. Forest Has a Song: Poems, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. Nice enough, but more a picture book than a poetry collection.
  3. Poems to Learn by Heart, Caroline Kennedy. I like learning poems by heart, although sadly I've never convinced my kids to try it. In fact, they tend to recoil if I start to recite. But I enjoyed seeing some old favorites (some of which I know by heart) and I even added a few to my poetry notebook.
  4. Pug: And Other Animal Poems, Valerie Worth. Picture book with nice illustrations.
  5. The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses, Lisa Wheeler. A sa, almost tragic story of a girl afraid to love, frightened by the idea of imperfections. It ends with the child's commitment to loneliness and isolation. But I liked the kitten poem, except for the last line -- I say yes to the contradictions, and open my heart to joy and pain. The poet backs away.
  6. What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings, Joyce Sidman. I liked the idea, but none of the poems themselves spoke to me. I found nothing I wanted to commit to memory.
  7. When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders, J. Patrick Lewis. This felt more like a picture book about the various leaders.

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