Thursday, April 19, 2007

Janeczko, Paul B., ed. 2001. Dirty laundry pile: Poems in different voices. Illus. by Melissa

Sweet. New York: HarperCollins.

I read two other books of poetry selected by Paul Janeczko books before I chose this one. It was my favorite because all of the poems seemed like they would appeal to and be understood by the children that I teach, PreK through fifth graders and because I love to read writing and poems written from unusual perspectives, like objects or animals. As with all of his books that I read, the poems are high in quality. Mostly their mood is silly, although a few are more serious. They range in “speakers” from a seashell to the winter wind to a crayon to a pair of red gloves. Most, if not all, of the poems were previously printed in other books or anthologies, and I really appreciate the way Janeczko brings them all together in this book with a theme of different voices.

One of my favorite poems in the book is “Prayer of a Snowflake,” by Cynthia Peterson, on the fifth page (pages are unnumbered). It reads as follows:

“Prayer of a Snowflake”

Let me land, oh Lord,
On a narrow needle of pine,
or a sheltered slope
where I can memorize
the trim track of a passing fox.
I want more
than a month before melting.

If I can’t have
that long, quiet life,
grant me a sledded slope.
Or better yet, I hope
for my swirling journey to end instantly
on the hot tongue
of some shivering child
out reveling in the return
of my tribe.


I like this poem because it seems like what a real snowflake might say, had they brains and mouths for thinking and speaking. I also think it has numerous options for sharing with students. Younger children can just enjoy it as it is; older ones, capable of more abstract thinking, can think about what kind of life they want – long and sheltered or short and glorious or something else.

Another one I really like is “Crayon Dance,” by April Halprin Wayland. It’s about a “Sky Blue” crayon who wants to be picked out of the box and then is. He revels in the movement he experiences through the child’s hand and in what he is coloring. In the penultimate stanza he cries: “They gave me a chance! / All of me rocks in this / Fine, wild dance— / The dance of me, Sky Blue!” I just love thinking of what a crayon feels about being used, and it certainly opens up the imagination to what other art supplies or tools would say about their own use by us humans.

As I mentioned, there are also serious poems in the book, like “The Red Gloves,” spoken by (you guessed it ) a pair of red gloves who want their owner to come back and find them, and “Roots”, spoken by a tree about the great importance of its roots, which it compares to “a grandmother’s fingers.” What a great image!

One more poem I must share because it is about poetry and words (and you can’t pick a more poetic topic than poetry), is “Hippopotamus,” by Ronald Wallace:


I am tired of wallowing
in this mud and my own hide.
If I were a poet,
and not a hippopotamus,
I could be anything I wanted.
A gazelle, for instance.
The word springs from my mouth,
grows graceful
legs and muscles:
gazelle, gazelle,
it dances on its syllables.
Excited by flies,
I waddle over to my thick wife,
full of the secrets of poetry.

One thing I would say is that the book’s layout isn’t the most practical. As I mentioned, there are no page numbers, making it difficult to refer to or return back to a particular poem; there is no list of what poems are included either in the form of a table of contents or an index. There are some very fetching, child-like, watercolor illustrations by Melissa Sweet on each page, illustrating the various masks the poets take, about which sometimes there is one poem and sometimes there are two or more, from laundry to trees to kites. All the text of the poems is set off nicely and easy to read, but I do wish there were at least page numbers to help me find the poems again.

Overall, this is a really enjoyable book. It is full of poems I would definitely share with my students during poetry breaks or other instruction and that I would refer teachers to when they come to me for material to use on certain topics or writing techniques. The dramatic voice type used, known as a mask, really brings these everyday topics to life in a new way. After all, isn’t that part of the joy of poetry: exploring new perspectives on things we already know or know about?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Poetry Break #11 - Serious Poetry

Introduction: Talk about what it means to fit in and what makes some people different. Ask students if they’ve ever felt that they didn’t fit in. Tell them we’re going to read a poem about what that feels like.

Read the Poem:

“Speech Class (for Joe)”
by Jim Daniels

We were outcasts—
you with your stutters,
me with my slurring—
and that was plenty for a friendship.

When we left class to go to the therapist
we hoped they wouldn’t laugh—
took turns reminding the teacher:
“Me and Joe have to go to shpeesh clash now,”
or “M-m-me and J-Jim ha-have to go to
s-s-speech now.”

Mrs. Clark, therapist, was also god, friend, mother.
Once she took us to the zoo on a field trip:
“Aw, ya gonna go look at the monkeys?”
“Maybe they’ll teach you how to talk.”
We clenched teeth and went
and felt the sun and fed the animals
and we were a family of broken words.

For years we both tried so hard
and I finally learned
where to put my tongue and how to make sounds
and graduated,
but the first time you left class without me
I felt that punch in the gut—
I felt like a deserter
and wanted you
to have my voice.

(Daniels, Jim. 1988. Speech class. Rpt. in The place my words are looking for, 43-44. 1990. Ed. Paul Janeczko. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.)

Extension: This poem makes a nice addition to a unit on belonging and fitting in, which for younger students could feature books like Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester and Timothy Goes to School by Rosemary Wells, or for older students it could introduce reading a novel like Geeks by Jon Katz, Lizard by Dennis Covington, or Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Baird, Audrey B. 2002. A cold snap! Frosty poems. Illus. by Patrick O’Brien. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press.

This assignment was to review a favorite book of poetry published since the year 2000. I am glad we were not asked to review our most favorite, but simply “a” favorite book, as I would still be standing at the poetry shelf trying to decide what to do in the former case. I chose this book because I felt that the poems are high in quality; they evoke a variety of moods, thoughts, and emotions; the book is beautifully and appropriately illustrated by Patrick O’Brien; and I really enjoyed the poet’s voice and take on the subject matter. It also probably helps that I tend to be a little nostalgic about cold weather and winter, since I am a displaced Kentuckian (who also used to live in Idaho and North Dakota) living in Texas.

One of my favorite poems in the book is the first one, “Caution,” (p. 6 & 7) and would be very hard to reproduce in the way it appears in the book, since there are some special font effects. It begins as follows:


Put on
a sweater
to read
this book.

Don’t leave
the door open.

Turn up the

Grab an

Words like
balmy, warm,
and mild
won’t have
a chance here.

Words like

and cold
this book.

Later it reads:


Be careful
using this

It could
nip the nose
of neighboring

to ice…

Another favorite poem is “Trees and Me” (p. 10) It is in the first part of the book with several other poems about how winter starts. Later the poems are about the experience of the middle of winter.

“Trees and Me”

Trees undress
in November,

their clothes
where they stand.

I wonder if
Mother Nature
shakes her head
and says,

and underwear

like my mother does.

I think children would really relate to this poem, even ELL students. It has humor to it, but it is the kind that everyone understands: it is funny because it is true (almost all mothers scold their children for making a mess).

There are more serious poems in the book, like “Leaving the Library,” on page 14, and “Weather Term,” on page 16, while many of the poems are very nostalgic, like “A Ritual,” on page 17, about taking winter clothes down from storage.” One more poem worth sharing has such great imagery and sounds to it; it begs to be read aloud (as if all poems didn’t). This is “The Traveler,” from page 21:

“The Traveler”

Ravenous and savage
from its long
polar journey,

the North Wind

is searching
for food—

and wild to find
shelter tonight.

Starved, it


on my house
until the roof

wail down
my chimney.

Frigid, it


at my

trying to
its way in,



at eight o’clock,

spent and

it wraps around
my chimney
with a


when Dad
builds a fire.

The book has a very attractive layout as well. It has a table of contents at the front, which I always appreciate for finding poems again. Then, almost all of the poems are printed on white paper, with either small illustrations on the same page or opposite larger ones. This helps there never to be too much or too little white space around the poem. In addition, the pictures really highlight the content of the poems so well. For example, the poem, “The Traveler,” reproduced above, is accompanied by a painting of a weathervane being whipped about by the cold, winter wind. My favorite illustration is on the last page with the poem “Add It Up.” The poem is just one line: “A soft feather quilt + a raw wintry night = sleeping, polar-bear warm. The illustration, which covers the entire page (the poem is printed in white text at the top of it) shows a bed with a white down quilt over it and the top of a child’s head peeking over the edge. At the foot of the bed, the bedspread sort of turns into a sleeping polar bear. The dark blue sky is filled with stars and snow, which are falling on the bed and the bear. It is beautiful.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for poems about this topic, especially the anticipation or approaching of winter. The poems are well-written and the book presents them very nicely.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Poetry Break #9 - That Tragic Night

Setting the Stage: A copy of the poem will be displayed on chart paper or an overhead projector in front of the class, who will be seated on the floor. The librarian/teacher will distribute silk flowers (preferably tulips) as props.

Introduction: Talk about how it feels to freeze or forget your words or otherwise disappoint everyone when your "big moment" comes.

Inviting Participation: After reading the poem aloud at least once, the teacher/librarian should invite individual readers to read the regular text stanzas, while the whole class reads the italicized text (the refrain) in chorus.

Read the Poem:

The Tragic Night

Bloom! Bloom!
I was supposed to bloom
When the lights shone
On my side of the room!
I was a tulip,
In our class spring play,
My part was to bloom,
When lights shone my way.
All of the flowers
Were curled up so tight,
On one side of the stage,
In the dark of night.
Bloom! Bloom!
I was supposed to bloom
When the lights shone
On my side of the room!
I waited
For those lights to say,
Flowers, bloom,
It's a splendid day!
I didn't open my eyes
Or even take a glimpse,
But it took so long that
My whole body grew limp.
Bloom! Bloom!
I was supposed to bloom
When the lights shone
On my side of the room!
I started to hear
Such a soft, dreamy tune,
Then I fell asleep,
In my flower costume.
And that's when the lights shone
On my side of the room.
All the tulips
So slowly rose,
Stretched their petals,
Began to grow,
Filled a garden
In perfect rows.
One dumb flower
Stayed tucked up tight,
Didn't hear the sounds,
Didn't see the lights,
Didn't bloom at all,
That tragic night.
Bloom! Bloom!
I was supposed to bloom
When the lights shone
On my side of the room!

Dakos, Kalli. 1993. The tragic night. In Don't read this book whatever you do! Poems about school. Illus. by G. Brian Karas, 37-39. New York: Alladin Paperbacks.

Extension: Read the book The Rainbow Tulip by Pat Mora. Discuss the similarities and differences (mostly differences) in the two students' performances as tulips.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Poetry Book Review 8 - American History, Fresh Squeezed

Carol Diggory Shields. 2002. American history, fresh squeezed! Illus. by Richard Thompson. Brooklyn: Handprint Books.

The purpose of this book, according to the poet, is to tell the stories in history that she wished she’d paid attention to in 6th-grade history class, but to condense them. “Why can’t you learn about the Boston Tea Party in 17 lines? Or the Louisiana Purchase in 10?” she asks.

What follows are 45 poems about American history arranged chronologically. Some are funny (see “The Pilgrims” on page 9), some are just silly (see “The Purchase” on page 17), and others are more serious and reflective of the sadder events of our nation’s past (see “Trail of Tears” on pages 22-25), while some clearly have a mnemonic purpose (see “Presidents on Parade: Part I” on pages 26-27). All reinforce the purpose of the book to tell stories about the people who make up our history and to do it in a way that covers the major details and doesn’t get lost in the minor ones.

The book is made more enjoyable by the pen-and-ink drawings of Richard Thompson, which appear either on the page opposite each poem, or below them. I enjoyed, for example, the sketch of a tourist-trap kiosk set up in the middle of the woods and owned by the Carnarsie Indians that accompanies the poem “Manhattan,” about how the Dutch paid these Indians for Manahttan Island, but it turned out that they didn’t own it.

At the top of each two-page spread runs a timeline with generally accurate (though sometimes humorously written) events shown in the years in which they occur. For example, on pages 8 and 9, it shows “1607: First permanent English colony is founded at Jamestown, called ‘Jimtown’; 1609: English colonists prepare to leave Jimtown; 1611: Colonists decide to stay following first tobacco harvest; 1620: Before going ashore, Pilgrims check to see who they look, using the Mayflower Compact.” After this point in the book, though, most of the events actually did happen.

In addition to being arranged in chronological order, the poems are also listed in an index by title at the back of the book. Next to each title is a parenthetical explanation of what it is about. This would make it easier to find a poem about a specific event, instead of having to search through all the poems in the era in which it occurred.

This was a very enjoyable book, but no poetry book review would be complete without a sample of the work contained therein. The following poem from pages 44-45 is entitled “Poor You” about child labor in at the turn of the last century:

“Poor You”

Oh poor, poor you!
All that homework you must do,
And then there are the chores—
Feed the dog, sweep the floors.
Don’t you wish that you
Lived in nineteen-oh-two?

Only three short months in school!
(Now that sounds really cool),
And throughout the other nine,
You’d be working in a mine,
Thirteen hours every day
(No summers off
or time for play).

Or maybe you’d rather chill
By working in a mill,
Tending a huge machine
That spits dirt and grease and steam.
Dawn to dark, rain or shine,
Each day you’d earn one thin dime!

Don’t you wish that you
Lived in nineteen-oh-two?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Poetry Break #7 – Poems for Spring

Setting the Stage: Show a short slideshow with a multi-media projector of pictures of rain falling in various places on various people.

Introduction: Ask students to think about whether or not they like the rain. Tell them we are about to read a poem about rain. As they listen, they should try to predict whether the poet will say he likes the rain or not. (Pause before the last line and ask students for their opinions on this.)

Read the Poem:

“April Rain Song”

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—

And I love the rain.

(Hughes, Langston. 1960. April rain song. Rpt. in Hull, Robert, ed. 1991. Poems for spring, 30. Illus. by Annabel Spenceley. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn Library.)

Extension: Now tell students that we are going to pretend we all hate it when it rains. Point out how Langston Hughes didn’t say, “The rain sounds like a lullaby,” but just said, “Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” Ask them each to come up with a sentence that could tell something you hate about rain, but do it in a creative way that will surprise the reader. After writing, compile the sentences to make a group/class poem about hating the rain.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Poetry Book Review #6, Love That Dog

Creech, Sharon. 2001. Love that dog. New York: HarperTrophy.

Reading this interesting book in this unique genre of verse novels has left me a little puzzled. On the one hand, I really enjoyed and appreciated the story of Jack and his poetry notebook and his dog. What educator among us doesn’t like the story of a kid who gets turned on about something he’s being taught in the classroom? On the other hand, it’s not the kind of poetry I’m used to reading. Some of it seemed like nothing more than short, choppy prose, like the entry from October 10, page 5 in my copy:

“You didn’t say before

that I had to tell why.

The wheelbarrow guy

didn’t tell why.”

That’s not to say that none of the main text of the poem contains poetic elements. There is repetition, like on October 4, page 4:

“Do you promise

not to read it

out loud?

Do you promise

not to put it

on the board?”

and part of the entry from October 24 on page 9 has nice rhythm and onomatopoeia:

“Some of the tiger sounds

are still in my ears

like drums


Of course, Jack does write some excellent poetry in response to his teacher’s requests, like his “Blue Car” poem, meant to be like William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow:”

"So much depends


a blue car

spattered with mud

speeding down the road.”

This poem has great imagery, even if the reader has no idea what significance the blue car has to the boy yet. Jack says he doesn’t like it, but I think he is still struggling with understanding what poetry is. What he says about this in his entry on January 17, pages 22 & 23, is that “maybe the wheelbarrow poet was just making a picture with words and someone else—like maybe his teacher—typed it up and then people thought it was a poem because it looked like one typed up like that.” He doesn’t realize that making a picture with words, the right words, is poetry.

The story is entertaining and maybe a little inspiring. It has some good poetry in it. Perhaps the best part is that it’s told in very few words, which is a great boon to struggling readers who have a hard time with sheer volume of words in the traditional novel. I’m glad I read this book and I think I will try to recommend it to my students where it is appropriate.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Poetry Break #5 - Dizzy Wind

This week's poetry break is based on the poem "Dizzy Wind" by Lisa Westberg Peters. It's in her book Earthshake: Poems from the ground up, which is full of poems on other great earth science topics, like layers of the earth, lava, and glaciers. The poem has a somewhat concrete form, so it would be impossible to discusss it without showing here an image of the poem on the page in the book:

Setting the Stage: A copy of the poem will be displayed by a multi-media projector in front of the class, who will be seated on the floor. The librarian/teacher will have a globe as a visual aid.

Introduction: Review what students already know about the movement of the earth and the cardinal directions.

Inviting Participation: Point out the way the words in the poem move with the directions they mention. Ask students to hold their hands in front of them and swoop down on the word "south," left on the word "west," and so on.

Read the Poem: as written above

(Peters, Lisa Westberg. 2003. Dizzy wind. In Earthshake: Poems from the ground up, illus. by Cathie Felstead, 11. New York: Greenwillow Books.)

Extension: Use the globe to show how the earth spins. Let one student spin the globe slowly to the right (east) while another tries to track a straight line from the North Pole down. Show students how the "wind" (that is, the student's finger) ends up to the west of its original longitude.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Poetry Book Review #4 - Love to Mamá

Mora, Pat, ed. 2001. Love to Mamá. Illus. by Paula S. Barragán M. New York: Lee & Low.

This is a very high-quality book, containing poems by Liz Ann Báez Aguilar, Francisco X. Alarcón, Rane Arroyo, Mimi Chapra, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Rigoberto González, Carmen D. Lucca, Tony Medina, PatMora, Cristina Muñiz Mutchler, Daniel A. Olivas, Virgil Suárez, and Jennifer L. Trujillo. Some of these, such as Francisco Alarcón, Judith Ortiz Cofer, and, of course, Pat Mora were already familiar names to me. Still others, such as Rane Arroyo, Rigoberto González, and Tony Medina have published books of poetry that I had never encountered before. Others had published other genres before, and one poet included could not be called anything but new, as she is only 15 years old (Cristina Muñiz Mutchler).

In her introduction, Pat Mora describes her relationship with the maternal figures in her life and says these poems are intended to “share [the poets’] love for their mothers and grandmothers” and that all of them are “proud to be Latino writers.” These two messages are certainly clear and all of the included poems reinforce that purpose, whether they are simply nostalgic, overwhelmingly proud, or simply full of admiration.

The layout of the book, especially the illustrations, very much enhances the poetry contained in it. The pencil/cut paper/gouache illustrations by artist Paula S. Barragán M. are works of art in themselves, but the poetry and the illustrations really do compliment each other. For example, the poem “Palomita,” by Judith Ortiz Cofer reads as follows:


Wearing a sky-blue skirt

embroidered by an old woman

named Consuelo from a story

she told Mamia long time ago

on her island, a cuento

in gold, brown, and silver threads,

a shower of sunlight

falling like drops of gold on

a little golden girl

who turns into a silver dove

and flies around and around a blue sky

my mami is walking with me in the park.

Palomita, palomita, is the name

she calls me, her little dove

happy to be going anywhere with her,

flying like a bird around and around

my mami in her sky-blue skirt

made from an island story

The accompanying illustration is on a dark green background with cut-paper images of bright green leaves, evoking the park or the native island mentioned in the poem. Set on this background is a woman in a long skirt. Her head is small and seems far away, but her body gets larger and larger the further down the page it goes, which seems to me partly the way a little girl would see her mom, skirt up close, head far away, and partly a way to emphasize the significance of the skirt in the poem. The skirt has on it a sun, drops of gold, a dove, and clouds, as one might imagine Mami’s skirt to have from reading the poem. The colors aren’t exactly as described, but the artist has still captured the essence of the poem beautifully.

The poems all appear in a united font on either all-white pages or all-white sections of the pages, so as not to compete with Barragán’s vibrant images. This makes it easy for the eye to find and read the poems and makes for a very appealing visual design as well. I regret that Mora did not add to the other outstanding aspects of the layout of this book by including a table of contents, index, or other aids to finding poems. It does have a glossary, which is not only a nice addition but might be considered necessary because of the many Spanish words used in the poems.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable book that I would love to share with my students, albeit many of the poems are more suitable for the older children in my school, which serves PreK-5th grade. The following poem is my favorite, probably because my own daughter is being raised bilingual, and it also happens to span the greatest age range among my students:

“My Tongue is Like a Map”

Mami said yes, Abuelita sang sí.

They said, Two languages make you a rich man,

But words never paid for my penny candy.

Agua, water. Arroz, rice. Niño, me!

Arroz con leche, sang Abuelita

As my mami said, A is for Apple.

My ears were like a radio, so many stations.

Sometimes I would dream in English and Spanish.

I was a millionaire each time I said yes and sí.

- Rane Arroyo

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Poetry Break #3, "New Jacket"

This post was to be based on a poem by an NCTE Award for Poetry for Children recipient, so I chose a poem by Mary Ann Hoberman, who won that award in 2003. "New Jacket" appears in her book Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers: A Collection of Family Poems (see full citation at the end).

Setting the Stage: A copy of the poem (provided below) will be on chart paper in front of the class, who will be seated on the floor. A variety of nicer items of clothing will be placed appropriately as props.

Introduction: Ask students to share about a special dress or item of clothing they had to take really good care of. Older students can give a quote of something their mom or dad actually said about that item.

Read Poem:

"New Jacket" by Mary Ann Hoberman

I've got a new jacket.
I don't even care.
What good is a jacket
You can't even wear?

A not-everyday jacket

That's-not-for-play jacket

Do-as-I-say jacket

Just isn't fair.

It's yellow and red.
With a zigzag design.
They bought it for me
And they said it was mine.

A must-keep-it-neat jacket

Not-for-the-street jacket

Don't-you-look-sweet jacket

Isn't that fine?

I think that they bought it
Just so they could say
Go take off that jacket.
Don't wear it today.

A don't-get-it-messed jacket

Please-keep-it-pressed jacket

That-is-your-best jacket

Put it away.

(Hoberman, Mary Ann. 1991. New jacket. In Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers: A collection of family poems, illus. by Marylin Hafner, 12. New York: Puffin Books.)

Inviting Participation:
This poem almost begs to be read by at least two people. For older students who are proficient readers, after reading the poem a couple of times aloud as a class, invite two individuals to read up front, one as the girl and one as the voice of the parent in italics.

For younger readers who aren't as proficient, I would invite a guest reader, such as their classroom teacher, to read the poem with me in the same way, one as the voice of the girl and the other as the voice of the parent. Prior to that during the initial run-throughs with the whole class, I'd teach them to all say "jacket" when I point to that word, so they can participate in the reading of the poem as well.

Extension: Ask students to share with a buddy a time when they disagreed about something with their parents.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Poetry Book Review, #2

Hopkins, Lee Bennett, ed. 1980. Morning noon and nighttime, too.

Illus. by Nancy Hannans. New York: Harper & Row.

I recently had the pleasure of reading this delightful, if older, anthology of poetry selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Although some of the poets who were included were familiar to me and others were not, I found the poetry to be of high quality throughout the anthology.

Almost all of these poems had appeared in other poetry books previously, but what makes this anthology so appealing is its theme and the way the poems are arranged throughout it to reinforce that theme. The theme is the same as the title of the book, Morning Noon and Nighttime, Too; it has poems first about morning and breakfast, then about school, playtime, dinner, and nighttime as it proceeds through a child’s day.

To show the variety of thoughts, emotions, and moods expressed in the poems, let us examine just pages three through eight, which deal with morning-time topics. The book begins with the poem, “Zebra,” by Judith Thurman, which is just a brief snapshot of what a child sees upon waking. Next appears, “Light,” by Felice Holman, an examination of the beam of light falling on a child’s hand, which is rather mellow and pensive.

The third poem is called “Morning,” by Myra Cohn Livingston, and recalls those moments in childhood when one is the only person in the house awake. This poem is bursting with energy, although it is only four lines long. “Making Beds,” by Steven Kroll, comes next. It is a rant about having to make beds with a very grouchy but good-natured mood.

Following this, “See, I Can Do It,” by Dorothy Aldis is included. It is a poem about brushing one’s teeth, with a lighthearted mood and a fun rhythm and rhyme. Finally, “Before Breakfast,” by Aileen Fisher, is a downright silly poem about what adults have to do to get ready in the morning versus what kids have to do.

The book is also filled with beautiful pen-and-ink drawings by Nancy Hannans that for the most part enhance the readers’ experience of the poetry and complement the way the poems appear on the page. If I could make any complaint, it would be that they sometimes leave little to the imagination. For example, the first poem, “Zebra,” by Judith Thurman is as follows:

white sun
fire escape,

grazing like a zebra
outside my window.

The accompanying illustration includes a picture of a girl lying in bed, looking out the window through the bars of her fire escape so the reader doesn’t have to imagine how the view of the sun through the fire escape could be like a zebra. Some younger readers might even be thrown off or confused by the presence of a stuffed animal zebra at the girl’s side, wondering if the morning is supposed to be like a zebra or if she’s just talking about the zebra in her bed.

In other cases, though, the illustration is just right, like the one next to the excerpt from Karla Kuskin’s If I Were A… The excerpt reads as follows:

If I were a sandwich,
I’d sit on a plate
And think of my middle
Until someone ate
End of the sandwich.

The illustration for this poem shows a plate with a mostly-eaten sandwich and some crumbs. It is simple, but it supplements the poem without explaining it.

My other comment about the arrangement of the poems is that I appreciated the index of poems in the back that listed all the titles and poets in alphabetical order. I also think a table of contents would have been nice and would have highlighted the chronological layout of the poems, enhancing the book’s ability to express the theme of morning to night.

Overall, I think this book has many poems that children of all ages can relate to and enjoy. It certainly has some that I do, and I would not hesitate to share it with my students.