Staff Favorites: Poetry

This is Just to SayThis Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness
By Joyce Sidman, Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Ages 8-12

When the kids in Mrs. Merz’s 6th grade class have to write their own apology poems, they end up liking them enough to put them together in a book. By turns poignant and hilarious, This Is Just to Say is a heartfelt collection of apology and response poems sure to delight fans of Wonder, Love That Dog and Because of Winn Dixie. CHELSIE


How I Discovered PoetryHow I Discovered Poetry
By Marilyn Nelson
Ages 9 & up

Many young people probably can’t imagine the 1950’s–a decade of racism and frightening possibilities, but also a time of innovation and progression. Luckily, Marilyn Nelson has created How I Discovered Poetry, a biographical collection of poems that document ten years of her childhood and adolescence. Readers are given a glimpse into her life, and ultimately, a trying time in our nation’s history. ALLISON



Hip Hop Speaks to ChildrenHip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat
Edited by Nikki Giovanni
All ages

Who says poetry is old-fashioned? Hip Hop Speaks to Children shows that poetry is a living and changing art form. Featuring poets and performers from local stars like Hope Anita Smith to Mos Def and Phife Dawg (RIP). KEVIN



HaikuHaiku: Learn to Express Yourself by Writing Poetry in the Japanese Tradition
By Pam Donegan
Ages 9 & up

Haiku looks easy
Until you open your eyes
Read this book to see!



Be Glad Your Nose is On Your FaceBe Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face
By Jack Prelutsky
Ages 6 & up

Is it too late to say how much I like Jack Prelutsky? That he makes me laugh when he intones “Brachiosaurus had little to do/but stand with its head in the treetops and chew?/Brachiosaurus was truly immense/ its vacuous mind was uncluttered by sense?” Or, in the character of the mouse, he notes, “if not for the cat/and the scarcity of cheese/ I could be content” and in describing his morning routine, “I put out the clock/ and I wound up the cat?” Fairness requires that I mention that my once 8 year old son (now 27) wrote his one and only fan letter to Jack Prelutsky after memorizing one of his longer poems for a second grade project. I hope it’s not too late to say how much I like Jack Prelutsky. MARCELA


A Child's Anthology of PoetryA Child’s Anthology of Poetry
Edited by Elizabeth Hauge Sword
Ages 9 & up

For children, adults, and everyone in between, there are few anthologies more accessible or well-chosen than this collection. Poetry can bring a rare depth to the life of the mind, and here you will find the best poems ever written, including some (personal) favorites by Yeats, Hardy, Stevens, and many others. This is a great addition to the library of any aspiring poet or poetry enthusiast, and can grow and change with you as you read and re-read it over a lifetime. KEVIN



The Conference of the BirdsThe Conference of the Birds
By Peter Sis
Ages 12 & up

A graphic retelling of the classic Persian poem, Peter Sis’ The Conference of the Birds is a work that is both grounded in tradition and is highly idiosyncratic and personal. Sis’ intricate and dreamlike illustrations add a new facet to the tale, and every element of the book meshes together into a whole that approaches something resembling a mystical experience. A great gift, keepsake, or coffee table book, The Conference of the Birds is enjoyable for its tactile and visual as well as its artistic qualities. KEVIN



If I Were in Charge of the WorldIf I Were in Charge of the World
By Judith Viorst
Ages 5 & up

Judith Viorst’s If I Were In Charge of the World, is a delightful poetry book told from the perspective of children. Poems cover subjects such as family, friends, pets, school, and retald fairy tales. Some poems are written upside down, some poems have titles longer than the content, but they are all very funny and enjoyable! With beautiful black and white illustrations by Lynn Cherry, it’s not quite by children, for children, but it certainly has that feel to it. A wonderful addition to every young library. ERYCA



Lemonade LemonadeLemonade, Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word
By Bob Raczka
Ages 8 & up

Do you love Scrabble, Rebus Riddles, anagrams of Puzzlemaster Will Shortz? This book is for YOU! This is not your average poetry book. It breaks the conventional mold of prose (literally) and you are left with seemingly a jumble of ABCs?until you look closer. The author not only extracts letters, but he fuses various permutations together to create new words. Like the title suggests, Racka does an excellent job of “squeezing” a myriad of words from one theme word. He takes everyday objects and challenges you to see them in a new way! As you flip through the pages, you will see cascades of words flowing out of a singular source. It is enjoyable to decipher how they fit together and create new poems. You may not be allowed to play with your food, but it is quite fun to play with words! GRACE


Once I Ate a PieOnce I Ate a Pie
By Patricia MacLachlan
Ages 6 and up

If you like dogs you’ll adore this collection of 13 free-form story poems, each told from the viewpoint of one of man’s best friends. Sweet, funny and heart-warming, this collection is a must-have for the dog-lover in your life! CHELSIE


Poetry SpeaksPoetry Speaks Expanded
By Elise Paschen and Rebekah Presson Mosby
Ages 9 & up

Reading poetry is always a pleasure, but why not go one better? Poetry Speaks Expanded represents a collection of poetry’s all-time heavy-hitters including dignified, timeless Tennyson; playful, obtuse Wallace Stevens, and goateed bad-boy Ezra Pound (bad person, great poet!), all of them in their own words. Hearing the author read gives a better sense of the cadences and rhythms as well as an insight into their (sometimes weird) personalities. This, combined with some top-rate capsule biographies, makes for top-class education and first-rate enjoyment. KEVIN


Time You Let Me InTime You Let Me In: 25 Poets under 25
Ages 12 and up

Award-winging poet and Guggenheim Fellow Naomi Shihab Nye is known for her poems about the beauties and challenges of daily like and the importance of family. She consistently champions the voices of new poets. Time You Let Me In startles and touches readers with lines like:

“I’m like the weather, never really can predict
when this rain cloud gonna burst…” Lauren Stacks

“The Bodhisatta Cat is, of course, a vegan:
He will not eat the inexpensive dry food
I fed my last cat, who was unenlightened…” by Margaret Bashar

Tender and tough, these poems resonate with love, loss, struggle and strength. A wonderful gift for the youthful poet in your life, or within yourself. JANET


A Visit to William Blake's InnA Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers
By Nancy Willard, Illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen
Ages 6-10

An ideal mixture of whimsical illustrations and magical, humorous poems, this muse on William Blake’s original works collected both the Newbery Medal, and a Caldecott Honor Award in 1982. Peppered with wonder, wisdom, and colorful characters such as the King of the Cats, the man in the marmalade hat, and the namesake poet himself, this book is perfect for introducing poetry to young readers. It definitely deserves your visit! NIKKI


Where the Sidewalk EndsWhere the Sidewalk Ends
By Shel Silverstein
Grades 3 & up

Do you know any children who say they don’t like books, or poetry, or both? I dare a child or adult to crack open any page of Where the Sidewalks Ends: The Poems and Drawings of Shel Silverstein and not instantly break into a smile. The delightfully silly and expressive black and white line drawn illustrations add to the humor of the brilliantly witty poems. From the cautionary plight of “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Who Would Not Take the Garbage Out” to the “Crocodile’s Toothache”, this book is filled with humor guaranteed to enchant! SHARON