Posts tagged ‘poetry’

2 the Point Tuesday — Follow Follow

For my new job, all the librarians write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be adding my contribution to the blog in a new feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Follow FollowTitle: Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems
Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Josee Masse
ISBN: 9780803737693
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group Inc., c2013.
Publication Date: Feb. 7, 2013

Marilyn Singer retells several fairy tales through two poems , one being the flipped version of the other one and only changing punctuation in order to convey different points of view. For instance: “Jinni of the Lamp/ I am just a poor/ young knave/ Give me all I crave” becomes “Give me all I crave,/ young knave./ I am just a poor/ Jinni of the Lamp.” Singer maintains the uniqueness of the format in this second volume of “reverso poems”. Josee Masse’s split drawings complement both poems and the pictures interact with each other while portraying the different perspectives. I especially like the picture for Little Mermaid’s poem, where a mermaid literally becomes intertwined with a girl with legs.

Oh I wish I got more words to talk about this book! I really admire and love what she does with words, and when I reviewed Mirror Mirror, I tried to copy it and now we see her tackling that same story in Follow Follow. Has anyone else tried or had success attempting reverso poems?

The Spider and the Fly

Today’s author featured on the Picture Book Month calendar is Tony DiTerlizzi. I’m trying to keep pace with the calendar and blog about either the person or the theme featured each day of this month on the calendar. I’m currently reading his second book in the WondLa series (review to come soon hopefully), but since it’s picture book month I figured I should go back to his roots as a picture book illustrator.

Title: The Spider and the Fly
Author: Mary Howitt
Illustrator: Tony DiTerlizzi
ISBN: 0439579287
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2002.

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly.

According to the author’s bio in the back of the book, DiTerlizzi of Spiderwick and now WondLa fame was a “relative newcomer to the world of children’s literature” when this book was published and won a Caldecott Honor. It’s hard to imagine that was just ten years ago. Perfect for spooky Halloween themed story times (oh wait, we’re done with those now, aren’t we?) DiTerlizzi breathes new life into a poem that is just shy of two centuries old. Although it turns didactic in the end when it cautions children “to idle, silly, flattering words I pray you ne’er give heed,” the beginning has a tension to it as it draws readers along with ultimately drawing the fly into the spider’s web.

DiTerlizzi’s illustrations are very well done, and I can easily see why he received a Caldecott Honor. My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann won that year, and he was in good company with two other honor titles, Hondo & Fabian by Peter McCarty and Noah’s Ark by Jerry Pinkney. Plus, that honor sticker looks so good on the cover, it matches the intended color scheme. The black and gray tones convey an appropriately eerie setting, and even though there are hints of lightness, only the font can be called pure white. The humor in this grisly tale is in the details. Spider has an extraordinarily large stove-pipe top hat, his house has a dragon-fly lightning rod (or maybe it’s a horse fly weather vane *chuckle*), and even the wallpaper is a repeating bug pattern. Fly is very prettily dressed in what resembles a flapper outfit to my uneducated eyes, with a fringed dress, a cute round hat, and a flower parasol.

My one complaint is regarding the layout of the book. The double page openings definitely set the tone for the story as we see first a large, possibly abandoned house, then zoom in to a smaller, doll house version that appears to have been abandoned in the attic. Then we switch back and forth from single to double page spreads as the story progresses. The single page spreads aren’t really single pages though, because they mimic the old silent movies. The illustration is on one side, and then a progressing spider web with the words is in the other side, inset into a black box with a border. I think I would have enjoyed it more if that layout had continued throughout the entire book and then ended with the last two pages being double spread, almost serving as book ends to the old movie style.

If that doesn’t make sense, I guess you’ll just have to look at the book to see what I mean, which I encourage you to do anyways. While probably not the best choice to use with story times due to the lack of color, I think it would still delight children who know how spiders and flies get along. As DiTerlizzi adds at the end; “What did you expect from a story about a spider and a fly? Happily ever after?” A great introduction to poetry too.

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night

Title: Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night
Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Rick Allen
ISBN: 9780547152288
Pages: 32 pages
Publisher/Date: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, c2010.

“To all of you who crawl and creep,
who buzz and chirp and hoot and peep,
who wake at dusk and throw off sleep:
Welcome to the night.” (6)

With these opening lines, Joyce Sidman presents a collection of twelve poems describing the forest night life. From the tiniest snails to the mightiest oak tree, her poetry presents a typical night as animals and plants stir, eat, grow, and then fall back to sleep with the setting of the moon. I’m partial to the rythmic and ryhming poems, such as “Welcome to the Night,” “Oak After Dark,” and “Ballad of the Wandering Eft.” While the poems are on the left hand page, a small inset accompanying a detailed picture (more about that later) gives factual information about the animal (or plant) in the poem on the right hand page. The information is intended for young audiences, featuring little-known facts like “most orb spiders eat their damaged webs” or “young snails add a layer to their shells each night.”

While the poetry varies from rhyming couplets to more free verse, the illustrations by Rick Allen are uniformally stunning. People interested in learning how the pictures are made should look at the copyright page, where it gives a short tongue-in-cheek description that “There are definitely faster methods of making a picture, but few more enjoyable in a backwards sort of way.” In fact, I’m kind of disappointed that it got a Newbery Honor but nothing from Caldecott.

The detail that went into these photos prints is impressive. (That little goof just proves how much I admire the pictures.) The owl on the cover is the first clue that this is not your typical picture book of poetry. The leaves pop from the page, and there is texture on the tree bark that makes you think it’s a touch and feel book. On most of the scenery pages, readers can hunt for a tiny red eft (like a newt or salamander) amongst the leaves, grass, and mushrooms. I wish that the newt had been included on all the pages, because you miss him on the pages he isn’t present.

A must buy for nature lovers, poetry lovers, and art lovers alike.

Mirror, Mirror

Title: Mirror, Mirror
Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Josee Masse
ISBN: 9780525479017
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Dutton Children’s Books, c2010.

Cinderella’s Double Life
Isn’t life unfair?
Stuck in a corner,
while they’re waiting for a chance
with the prince,
dancing waltz after waltz
at the ball,
I’ll be shining
these shoes
till the clock strikes midnight.

Till the clock strikes midnight,
these shoes!
I’ll be shining
at the ball,
dancing waltz after waltz
with the prince
while they’re waiting for a chance,
stuck in a corner.
Isn’t life unfair?

I’ve heard rave reviews of this book and convinced my coworker she had to get it, if just so I can get a look of it. The reviews are justified for the most part, with Singer turning poetry literally on it’s head with what she calls “reversible verse.” Changing just punctuation and capitalization (with one noticable exception in a poem about Goldilocks that I’m willing to forgive), poems get new meaning depending on whether they are read up or down. Understandably, some work better than others, like the Cinderella poem quoted above. The bisected illustrations by Josee Masse mimic the reversable quality of the poem. Half the clock in the picture for Cinderella becomes the moon that she and the prince dance under, and the dress for Sleeping Beauty become the rolling hills that the prince travels over to get to her castle. While probably a challenge for beginning poets to immitate, it’s a light-hearted and familiar way to introduce poetry. Another one of my favorites is “The Doubtful Duckling,” which you could have a lot of fun with inflection when reading aloud “Plain to see–/ look at me./ A beauty I’ll be.” and the corresponding “A beauty I’ll be? / Look at me — plain to see”. Other poems include the stories of Rapunzel, Rumplestiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood (who skips through the wolf’s ‘hood), Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, the princess who kisses a frog, and Beauty and the Beast. Golidlocks also makes an appearance, with the poems featuring the points of view from herself and the three bears. They read like a news blotter, or two arguing attorneys. “She / unlocked / the door. / “They shouldn’t have left,” / Goldilocks claimed.” becomes “Goldilocks claimed, / “They shouldn’t have left / the door / unlocked.” “

Preschoolers and poets alike will be enthralled by this book.

My pathetic attempt at Reversible Verse:

Little Pigs and Wolf
A fire is lit.
Little Pigs
build
houses
from the straw and sticks
Here he comes;
“Let me in.”
“Not
by the hair on my chin.”
He huffs and puffs.
How dare
the wolf!
Bricks lock him out.
Whew!

Whew!
Bricks lock him out.
The wolf
“How dare!”
he huffs and puffs
“By the hair on my chin
not
let me in?”
Here he comes
from the straw and sticks
houses.
Build
little pigs!
A fire is lit.

Borrowed Names

Title: Borrowed Names: Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters
Author: Jeannine Atkins
ISBN: 9780805089349
Pages: 209 pages
Publisher/Date: Henry Holt and Company, c2010.

You’re like your grandfather, Mam writes.
He always thought he’d find something better
somewhere else

Rose wonders if he did. (58)

Through this book of poetry Atkins tells the stories of three inspirational women who were all born two short years after the Civil War ended; Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, and Marie Curie. She begins each of these women’s stories while their daughters are still young, effortlessly shifting the point of view from mother to daughter and back again. The diversity of these women is astonishing when you realize their similarities. All three women seem through Atkins portrayal to be self-reliant and self-sacrificing, but also work-aholics, consumed by their own lives rather than those of their daughters. Laura Ingalls Wilder refuses to leave the farm to visit her daughter. Madam C.J. Walker seems frightened that the money from her business will someday run dry (“Don’t wait for an open door, she says, /Open one yourself.” Irene Curie describes the discovery of radium as being “nudged between her parents as they stared /the way she is certain they once gazed at her.” (151)

Jeannine Atkins has a unique way with words that I envy. Her poetry skillfully presents feelings with facts, and there are facts laid out in three overlapped time lines for the three women. It’s amazing in my mind how driven these women were and the parallels that can be drawn between their lives and their daughters’ lives. All three women went on to write about their extraordinary mothers, with Rose Wilder Lane editing the works of her mother. I’m not sure to who I would recommend this book. Possibly fans of these women who want a different perspective, although besides the bibliography in the back it’s not meant for research. Another suggestion is a mother/daughter book club, considering the topic. I personally thought this was a good choice for today, as it closes out March (Women’s History Month) and begins April (National Poetry Month).

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