Poetry is a wonderful way of displaying words artistically, uniquely and with space. I love poetry books that do all three in bright and inventive ways for kids to enjoy and relish. These kinds of books become invaluable as children become enlightened to the beauty of our language and the many creative ways to express it. Here are some of the best new poetry picture books for kids of all ages.
Jack Prelutsky is perhaps one of our best children’s poets and one of my favorites as well as the first American Children’s Poet Laureate. Here is his latest poetry book, Camille Saint-Saens’s The Carnival of the Animals. Saint-Saens composed his beautiful and inspiring classical work in 1886 and since then many poets and authors have written much from the music. Prelutsky has written fourteen different poems that match this festival of animals from the music. The vivid artwork, by Mary GrandPre, flows perfectly, setting the rhythm to each rhyme along with the CD of the music from the composer. Note the information at the back for parents and teachers to incorporate and help promote classical music.
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, by Joyce Sidman, and beautifully illustrated by Rick Allen, is this year’s Newbery Honor winner and upon first glance the reason is obvious. The wondrous and glorious pictures are made from a relief printing which is a complex process and the painting of the objects and animals on each page seem to all be part of the night. The book opens with the onset of dusk and progresses into night and then returns dawn and you see at the end, the sun rising. The varied types of poems take on plants and nocturnal animals that include owls, spiders and crickets. You’ll find factual information on the opposite page of each poem. There’s no doubt as to why this outstanding book won the award!
I Didn’t Do It, by mother and daughter team: Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest, and with paintings by Katy Schneider, includes poems that puppies express with a bit of bite (that is – the poems reflect what puppies could say in poetic fashion if they could talk.) The fourteen poems are free verse with expressions of joy, regret, curiosity, love and more. The beautiful oil paintings of different breeds exemplify and replicate each perfectly! Be sure to check out the title poem; it’s hilariously on the mark!
Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems, collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, is a very large book with full page paintings and large text that will surely help little ones drift into a sweet sleep. The book is sectioned into three groups: going to bed, sweet dreams and in the night. This is the perfect book for a quick, simple and soothing read when time doesn’t allow for more at bedtime. If this book doesn’t set the eyelids down, I don’t know what will!
Oh, How Sylvester Can Pester! And Other Poems More or Less about Manners, by Robert Kinerk, and illustrated by Drazen Kozjan, includes twenty amusing rhyming poems that teach us how to be nice and considerate of others. They include cleaning your room, interrupting, shaking hand and eating. The illustrations are digitally rendered and colored and go nicely with each poem. Be sure to check out the first and last poems which are the simple culmination of the purpose of manners!
Another Jar of Tiny Stars, edited by Bernice E. Cullinan and Deborah Wooten, is a fabulous collection of poems by award-winning poets. This large edition is organized by poet and comprises more than 75 exhilarating and magically inspiring poems. If you could only own one children’s poetry book, this is the one to have! The only draw-back is there are no illustrations, but in a way, that’s good because the emphasis is on the poem.
If you’re looking for a picture book that incorporates the story completely in rhyme, Meow Said the Cow, by Emma Dodd, is perfect! Cat doesn’t like the rooster waking up the farm with his loud cock-a-doodle-doo. So he magically transforms the rooster’s voice to a squeak. But this event catapults into a frenzy and other animals are discovering their voices have been transformed into another animal’s voice. The pictures have been digitally mastered with bright and full page pictures.
The Silly Book with CD, by Stoo Hample, has a warning on the inside cover to be sure to read this book while sitting: otherwise you might just fall down from laughing! The book was first published back in 1961 and now has a CD to go along with these side-splitting poems. Here, at last, is a book to lift the spirit and bring giggles from deep inside the soul! The pencil and ink drawings go along perfectly with the retro-feel.
Twosomes: Love Poems From the Animal Kingdom, by Marilyn Singer, and simply illustrated by Lee Wildish, is a smallish gift book with two line couplets on each page with the subject of an animal. These quick poems are delightful and just might make your heart pitter-patter.
A Dazzling Display of Dogs, by Betsy Franco, and illustrated by Michael Wertz, is comprised of concrete poems in a variety of settings of fonts and art. There is almost too much going on here with colors and words practically bouncing off the page. But that’s what makes this book amazing and entertaining to pour over again and again. There is also a nice assortment of poems which include haiku, cinquain and free verse.