It’s VerseDay! VerseDay is a year long blog fest celebrating all things verse. Each Thursday one of our VerseDay bloggers will post something about verse – a review, a giveaway, writing tips, anything. Other participating bloggers will link to that week’s post on their blogs, tweet or Facebook the link and just generally add their support.
For this, our inaugural post, we’re going to take a closer look at the 2012Cybil nominees in the poetry category. Personally I love that the Cybils include a poetry category. Despite the popularity of verse novels, poetry is an oft overlooked area of writing for young readers. But as these seven nominees demonstrate, there is no shortage of great collections out there.
BookSpeak! Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas is a collection of wacky, whimsical poems about books and all the treasures they contain. With wildly colorful illustrations and captivating rhymes, Bookspeak! offers readers pages of fun and frivolity.
In the Sea by David Elliott present A New York Times best-selling author and a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator exploring life in the ocean with clever poems and bold, expressive woodcuts. This collection rounds out a trilogy of books about different environments and the creatures dwelling within.
Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs by J. Patrick Lewis is a collection of darkly humorous memorials for gruesomely killed animals. This is the kind that readers who nornally turn their nose up at poetry, especially boys will guffaw over for hours on end.
Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge is the only nominee specifically aimed at young adult readers. A collection of fiendishly clever free verse explorations on the darker possibilities of fairy tales including serial killers, drug references, blood and dismemberment this book is definitely NOT for the faint of heart.
National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!
compiled by J. Patrick Lewis seems tame by comparison (excuse the bad pun). It’s a collection of both classic and contemporary poetry about animals arrange in easy to access thematic chapters.
UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings
by Douglas Florian is a short but pithy collection of ecologically oriented poems about bees. With a subtle message about the plight of bess (they are in decline) it includes bee-related facts in addition to the poems and is illustrated by the poet in exuberant paintings.
Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs is another nature oriented offering focusing on the flora and fauna of the ocean and seashore. Its rich watercolor illustrations (by Meilo So) reflect the beauty and serenity of the marine setting.
It’s probably no surprise that five out of seven books here are on animal or wilderness themes. Long a favorite subject of writers for children, nature never seems to run out of ideas or inspiration. Although I admire all these nature books, and the other two nominees, I would love to see a broader range of topics in poetry collections for children and young readers. When you think of all the topics dealt with in novels (particularly in verse novels) such as friendship, school, family, love and death I wonder why we don’t see collections of poetry dealing with these more human themes.
Maybe next year.
I’d like to donate one of these to my daughter’s school library, and challenge other verse enthusiasts to do the same for their local public or school libraries. Which one do you think I choose? Put your suggestions in the comments. I’ll donate the one with the most suggestions.