Archive for the ‘Poetry Books’ Category

Poetry Friday ~ Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So,

Friday, June 14th, 2013

It’s Poetry Friday and in honor of the recent launch of Project Splash! Asia (an annotated bibliography of water-themed stories from and about Asia), I thought that today it would be appropriate to highlight a poetry book about water! Here’s our review of Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems written by Kate Coombs and illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle Books, 2012). For those of us with summer holidays just around the corner Water Sings Blue is the perfect picture book to bring on a trip to the beach. If your  young readers can’t wait for a trip to the beach, this book will take them there immediately in their imagination! Enjoy!

Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So,
Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems
Chronicle Books, 2012.

Ages 4-11

The finely tuned observation in both the poetry and illustrations of Water Sings Blue draws young readers into that world of the shoreline where time just seems to disappear and exploration offers up endless possibilities for discovery.  Kate Coombs’ poems are satisfyingly memorable, with their cohesive patterns of meter and rhyme that, nevertheless, contain plenty of surprises – like, for example, the alliteration and internal rhyming at the end of “Sand’s Story”, in which mighty rocks have turned to sand:

Now we grind and we grumble,
humbled and grave,
at the touch of our breaker
and maker, the wave.

… Not to mention the witty pun on “breaker”: and the gentle wit of Coomb’s verse also lights the imagination throughout this collection.

Turning the pages, readers encounter a vast array of sea characters, starting in the air with the seagull; then listening to “What the Waves Say” before diving down to meet the creatures of the deep: like the shy octopus author (think ink…), or the beautiful but self-absorbed fish whose tail and fins act as brushes, and who concludes his/her soliloquy with the wonderfully evocative: “I’m a water artist. / You wouldn’t understand.”  As well as creatures like sharks and jellyfish, there are poems about fascinating, less well-known fish – “Oarfish”, “Gulper Eel” and “Nudibranch”: they could become a follow-up project by themselves!  There’s also a deep-sea shipwreck, and back on the sea shore, a gnarled “Old Driftwood” telling stories “to all the attentive / astonished twigs”, and a property agent hermit crab with a salesman’s patter.

Bringing all the poems together in a visual feast are Meilo So’s gorgeous watercolors.  As well as her depiction of jewel-colored corals and waves in every shade of blue imaginable, her illustrations are clearly also influenced by direct observation of the shoreline around her Shetland Isle home, from fishermen’s cottages to diving gannets.

Just like in real beachcombing, young readers will lose track of time as they pore over So’s seashores for what they can find.

paw_sm3Do read our recent interview with the illustrator of Water Sings Blue, Meilo So, here and see our gallery of her work here.

This week’s Kidlitosphere’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Reflections on the Teche – head on over…

Poetry Friday: A Shout Out for the San Francisco Flor y Canto Youth Festival ~ April 6th

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Poetry Friday ButtonThe 2013 SF Flor y Canto Youth Poetry Festival hosted by SF Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguía will be the first Flor y Canto in San Francisco showcasing the work of young poets ages 14 and under. The event takes place tomorrow, April 6th, at the Children’s Creativity Museum.

“Flor y Canto is about the pursuit of peace through the celebration of poetry, art, culture, and friendship,” says event host and 2013 SF Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguía. “We want to bring together people from all walks of life to be part of this extraordinary event.”

The festival will kickoff at 1:00pm with an opening dance performance by Grupo Danzante Teokalli. Fifteen youth poets will be selected to read their original poems on stage in the Theater at the Children’s Creativity Museum. Awards will be presented to participating poets.

Details for the event are here.

San Francisco teachers take note that poetry workshops are available either in your classroom or at 826 Valencia to teach students about the history of Flor y Canto and to help them with the three forms of poetry. Contact Kimberly Escamilla at kimberly(dot)escamilla(at)plsf.org to set up a workshop.

This week’s Kidlitosphere’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Robyn Hood Black– head on over…

Poetry Friday: Meeting up with Debjani Chatterjee

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Let's Celebrate! Festival Poems from Around the World. edited by Debjani Chatterjee and Brian D'Arcy (Frances Lincoln, 2011)I was in Sheffield (UK) yesterday and met up with Debjani Chatterjee and her husband, fellow-poet Brian D’Arcy, which was definitely something to celebrate – so for today’s Poetry Friday, I turn to the recent book they edited together, Let’s Celebrate! Festival Poems from Around the World, imaginatively illustrated by Shirin Adl (Frances Lincoln, 2011). And since the joyous Jewish festival of Purim falls this weekend, here’s the beginning of “Three Loud Cheers for Esther: A Poem for Purim” written by Debjani and Brian:

Listen to the tale of Esther:
The story of a savvy queen
Who became her people’s saviour.
Let’s hear: ‘three loud cheers for Esther!

Stamp your feet and shake your gregger…’

The whole poem evokes a traditional Purim spiel, reflected also in Shirin’s illustration in the book, which shows a young audience enjoying a puppet play, greggers and hamentaschen in hand, for, as we learn in the backmatter information About the Festivals, “Home-made rattles called greggers are shaken to drown out Hamen’s name whenever it is mentioned.  Poppy-seed cakes called hamentaschen or ‘Haman’s ears’ are eaten.”

Let’s Celebrate! is a wonderful gathering of poems, bringing together a whole world of festivals, so I was delighted to hear that a second anthology, this time about children playing around the world, is nearing completion. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye open for it and I’ll keep you posted!

It was lovely to catch up with Debjani and to meet Brian – thank you, both.

Poet Debjani Chatterjee and Marjorie Coughlan (PaperTigers) in SheffieldPaperTigers

Debjani shared with me some of the beautiful poster poems she had created as part of a community mother-daughter poetry project with Roshni Sheffield Asian Women’s Resource Centre. She is also very  involved in running a local cancer support group called The Healing Word, and you can read some of her powerful poetry about her own cancer journey in her Dare to Dream collection, and in this issue of Poetry Express, the journal of Survivors’ Poetry, which promotes poetry by survivors of mental distress (Debjani is its patron).  Debjani is also a noted translator of poetry – do read these “Eight Poems by Five Bengali Poets” and her prize-winning translation of some of Bangladesh’s national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam’s work.  You can find out more about Debjani and her many books of poetry and children’s stories on her website.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Sheri Doyle – head on over… And Happy Purim!

Week-end Book Review ~ Juba This, Juba That, by Helaine Becker and Ron Lightburn

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Cover: Juba This, Juba ThatHelaine Becker, illustrated by Ron Lightburn,
Juba This, Juba That
Tundra Books, 2012.

Ages: 3-8

Adapting a traditional “juba” rhyme, and certainly maintaining the toe-tapping snappiness for which juba is renowned, poet Helaine Becker and illustrator Ron Lightburn have created a dynamic, joyous picture book that will have young readers up on their feet dancing along in time to the words. While the poem creates a narrative of Juba having a fun time at a fairground, the illustrations contextualise the sequence within the suggestion of a dream; so despite its lively energy, the book would also work well as a bed time story…

Read the full review

Poetry Friday: Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems by Francisco X. Alarcón, illustrated by Christina Gonzalez

Friday, January 11th, 2013

This week seemed to fly by and I can hardly believe that Friday is upon us and it is time to celebrate Poetry Friday! For those who may not be familiar with the concept, at the end of the week many children’s book aficionados and bloggers often use their sites to contribute favorite poems or chat about something poetical in an event called Poetry Friday. The features can be original poems, reviews of poetry books, reviews of poetic picture books, links to poems at copyright protected sites, thoughts about poetry, song lyrics and  more.  One blog rounds up all the posts on the subject, so that poetry aficionados can read more posts on a favorite subject. The list of blogs scheduled to host  Poetry Friday in 2013 can be found here and you can delve into our PaperTigers’ Poetry Friday time vault here.

For this week’s Poetry Friday contribution I’d like to highlight one of my favorite children’s poetry books: Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems / Iguanas en la nieve y otros poemas de invierno by Francisco X. Alarcón, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez (Children’s Book Press/Lee and Low Books, 2001). If the winter days in your neck of the woods are depressingly short, dark and gloomy, get hold of a copy of Iguanas in the Snow and prepare to have your spirit restored. You’ll immediately be taken to a wintery world of bright, engaging colors that looks to be just as magical as the long, golden days of summer are. Celebrate winter with a Mexican American family in Nothern California and witness their joy as they frolic in the snow, an experience that reminds the author of the iguanas playing by his grandmother’s house in Mexico. Celebrate life in a city where people are bridges to each other and children sing poetry in two languages. Be dazzled by the promise of seedling redwoods—like all children—destined to be the ancestors of tomorrow. This book was a well deserved winner of the 2002 Pura Belpré Award Honor Book for Narrative and can be read online on the International Children’s Digital Library  website by clicking here.

Iguanas in the Snow
what fun
to see snow
for the first time

on the Sierra Nevada
all dressed in white
like a bride

get out of
Papa’s car
in a hurry

touch the wet
snow with our
bare fingers

and throw
snowballs
at each other

what a ride
to slide
down slopes

on top
of black
inner tubes

together with
brothers and sisters
cousins and uncles

all sporting
green jackets
and pants

gotten
in a sale at
the army surplus

“Ha! ha! ha!”
Mama laughs
and says with joy

“we look like
happy iguanas
in the snow”

This week’s Poetry Friday is being hosted by No Water River

Poetry Friday: Congratulations to John Agard, winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2012

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Yesterday it was announced that poet John Agard has been awarded the Queen’s Medal for Poetry.  And what is especially exciting about this news?  Well, apart from the fact that this fine poet’s work has been suitably recognised, it’s exciting also because much of Agard’s wonderful poetry is aimed at young people.  The Poetry Archive website, a great place to begin exploring Agard’s work,  describes him as a “unique and energetic force in contemporary British poetry” – and two of his collections were highlighted in his selection for the Medal: Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2009), which along with an accompanying DVD brings together performances of some of his best poetry spanning 30 years; and his recent book Goldilocks on CCTV (Frances Lincoln, 2011).

John Agard was born in Guyana in 1949 and moved to the UK in the 1970s.  Along with his partner, fellow-poet and often co-author Grace Nichols, Agard has been an important voice for promoting awareness of Caribbean culture in the UK, breaking down barriers and broadening perspectives on poetry (and he is currently one of the Advisors for the Caribbean Poetry Project). The British Poet Laureate Carol Ann  Duffy says:

John Agard has always made people sit up and listen. He has done this with intelligence, humour and generosity. He has the ability to temper anger with wit and difficult truths with kindness. He levels the ground beneath all our feet, whether he is presenting Dante to children or introducing his own (Guyanan) culture to someone who hasn’t encountered it before. In performance he is electrifying – compelling, funny, moving and thought-provoking. His work in Education over years has changed the way that readers, writers and teachers think about poetry.

Here he is reciting his superb “Listen Mr Oxford Don”, one of the poems on the John Agard Live! DVD created by Pamela Robertson-Pearce to accompany Alternative Anthem:

 

I recently selected Agard’s The Young Inferno in my Top Ten Multicultural Ghost StoriesGoldilocks on CCTV continues the inspired partnership of Agard’s poetry with Satoshi Kitamura as illustrator and the contemporary take on fairy-tales  is just wonderful!  You can read “Pumpkin Biker Cinderella” on the Frances Lincoln Website (go to the “Excerpt” tab), and here’s a video of a dead-pan Agard reading the hilarious title poem:

And finally, since our current theme at PaperTigers is Cats and Dogs, do read “Books Make Good Pets” – witty and wonderful!

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe – head on over…

Poetry Friday: I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail, illustrated by Ramsingh Urveti

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Illustrated by Ramsingh Urveti, designed by Jonathan Yamakami,
I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail
Tara Books, 2011.

Ages: 8+

The glorious blue and intriguing cut-outs on the cover of this truly stunning book just beg you to pick it up and explore its pages.  As you open the book, the feathered (or is it fiery?) eye leaves the peacock’s head behind, and you have to keep on turning until you find the whole bird.  From then on, each page reveals a half-line of the anonymous seventeenth-century English nonsense/puzzle poem that makes up the text.  The clever cut-outs mean you can read the poem in two ways – in its original tricky layout that offers a surreal, perplexing view of all the amazing things that “I saw,” or the more logical sequence created by joining the second half of the former line to the first half of the latter:

I saw a peacock with a fiery tail
I saw a blazing comet drop down hail
I saw a cloud… [you can read the whole poem here]

The secret is in the lack of punctuation throughout and the poem would make a fun punctuation task for younger children to work out – but the poem offers much more than a school exercise and is a delight for people of all ages to ponder the essence of poetry.  Joined here with Ramsingh Urveti’s combination of black on white and white on black art influenced by his Gond roots, and Jonathan Yamakami’s imaginative book design, I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tale is a veritable feast for any poetry lover.

This is Urveti’s first solo book but he was a contributor to Tara Books’ much loved The Nightlife of Trees (New Horizons Award 2008).  Here, his artwork is extraordinary in the way it manages to convey all the twists and turns of the poem whether puzzling or logical.  He incorporates the recurring “I saw” inventively throughout.  The ebb and flow of the different scales alluded to, from a mighty oak to a tiny ant, are reflected in the intensity of the patterns that at times seem to froth from the page.  The book’s physical design is full of surprises right to the end: and this is a very physical book.  In the age of the e-book, this is an oasis for anyone who loves the physicality of the book.  If you think you know just the person you’d like to give it to, you might have to get hold of two copies – this is one of those books that would otherwise be impossible to give away!

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Robyn Hood Black at Read, Write, Howl - head on over.

Poetry Friday ~ PaperTigers 10th Anniversary: My Top Ten Picks by Sally Ito

Friday, November 9th, 2012

[Time is running out to enter our Tenth Anniversary Draw - the deadline is tomorrow - so if you haven't already, take a look here for the chance to win some fantastic prizes for you or your school or library]

Sally Ito is a poet, editor and translator living in Winnipeg, Canada, where she also teaches Creative Writing; she is currently writer.  Sally was  a book reviewer and contributor to the PaperTigers blog until earlier this year and wrote many of our contributions to Poetry Friday during that time (which is why we decided to post Sally’s selection on a Poetry Friday day!).  So we are delighted to welcome her back with her Top Ten list of favourite books, encountered through her work with PaperTigers.

As a prelude, do listen to Sally reading the title poem from her collection Alert to Glory (Turnstone Press, 2011) in the video below.

My Top Ten Picks by Sally Ito

When I joined the Paper Tigers blog contributor team in 2008, the thing I was most excited about was getting to read and review great multicultural books for kids.  What I discovered was a plethora of wonderful books that reflected who I was culturally and who my community was, culturally, as well.  From my short time with PaperTigers, these are my ten picks of multicultural books for kids.  It’s a little Japan-heavy, I realize but I hope you indulge my bias!

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin, 2008) – I found this quirky picture book amazing and it was an inspiration for me when I was teaching to take my creative writing students out into our immediate neighborhood (an historic district called The Exchange) in Winnipeg to see what we could make of our environment in a creative way.

Naomi’s Tree by Joy Kogawa, illustrated by Ruth Ohi (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2008).  This book is about a cherry tree and a Japanese Canadian girl who grew up with it and was separated from it by the circumstances of the Second World War.  This book was a personal favorite since the author’s history reflects my own family’s in Canada.

Granny’s Giant Bannock by Brenda Isabel Wastasecoot, illustrated by Kimberly McKay-Fleming (Pemmican, 2008).  This is one hilarious book about a Cree-speaking grandmother and her grandson Larf who accidentally bakes a giant bannock by misunderstanding his grandmother’s instructions on how to make the doughy confection from scratch.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, translated by Cathy Hirano (Scholastic, 2009).  This book is a translation of a popular fantasy series that was also made into a TV series.  The story is set in early imperial Japan and features a woman warrior named Balsa who protects the son of the emperor, Chagum, as he carries within him a spirit from another dimension who must lodge in a human host in order to survive.

The Song of the Cicada by Shizue Ukaji.  This is a Japanese book, yet untranslated into English, that I discovered while living in Japan in 2011.  It’s an Ainu folktale illustrated with textile creations made by Ukaji herself.  It’s the story of a woman who prophesies disaster – namely a tsunami – to her people and what becomes of her as a result.  A timely read for the year I was visiting the country.

The Fox’s Window and Other Stories by Naoko Awa, translated by Toshiya Kamei.  This is a collection of short stories spanning a career of writing by Japanese author Naoko Awa.  Magical, enchanting and absorbing are the words I’d use to describe these stories, which have also been referred to as ‘modern fairytales.’

David’s Trip to Paraguay by Miriam Rudolph.  A bilingual book with German and English text, this story is about a young Mennonite boy named David who travels to Paraguay from Canada in the late 1920s.  Rudolph, an artist, charts the arduous journey with vivid and colorful illustrations of the things David sees on the trip.

Gifts: Poems for Parents edited by Rhea Tregebov (Sumach Press, 2002).  We say we read to our children for their sake, but it’s just as true that we read to feed ourselves, too.  Poetry is a kind of bread for the soul, and this particular treasury of poems by Canadians really fed me as a poet and a parent.

Bifocal by Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters.  This is one book I read in part with my son, who later went on to have the book assigned to him for his English class in junior high school.  It’s about two teenagers – Haroon and Jay – who have to negotiate their cultural identities during a tense lockdown situation at their high school.

Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie.  I started covering graphic novels for PaperTigers a few years ago as I felt this was a developing trend in books for young people.  And this book was one of my favorites!  Aya is about a young woman growing up in Cote D’Ivoire, looking to become a medical student, but whose life is inevitably shaped and influenced by those around her with less lofty goals than her.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Ed at Think Kid, Think – head on over.

Poetry Friday: PaperTigers 10th Anniversary Top 10 Multicultural Children’s Poetry Books selected by Janet Wong

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Second up in our Top-10 series in celebration of PaperTigers’ 10th Anniversary, we are delighted to welcome poet Janet Wong with her choice of multicultural poetry books.  Janet is herself the acclaimed author of an impressive list of poetry collections and fiction for all ages of young people, including Twist: Yoga PoemsNight Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams and Knock on Wood: Poems about Superstitions, all stunningly illustrated by Julie Paschkis; Homegrown House illustrated by E. B. Lewis; and the middle-grade free-verse Minn and Jake novels.

Recently, Janet has embraced e-publishing with several collections of her own poetry, including Once Upon a Tiger and Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for an Election Year. She has also collaborated with Sylvia Vardell on three PoetryTagTime e-collections of poetry. You can read Janet’s thoughts about e-publishing here, and also my 2008 interview with her here.

I love that Janet has selected one book for each year of PaperTigers – which has also made me chuckle, since the list is actually now 11. You may have noticed that Deborah Ellis’  Top 10 also had eleven titles, grouping two books together.  Could this be a theme?  Perhaps, a bit like a Baker’s Dozen, a Reader’s 10 actually equals 11?!

 

Top 10: Multicultural Poetry Picks (2002-2012) by Janet Wong

Picking my top ten multicultural poetry books of the past decade was pretty difficult; but I managed to stick to my goal and to limit myself to only one title published in each of the ten years of the existence of PaperTigers. Here are ten books for young people that I love, some collections and some novels in verse. Please look for them at your library—and give them as gifts to your library if you can’t find them there. Read from these books aloud, a few pages now and then, when you have time. A poem is a perfect 5-minute pick-me-up, like a snack for the mind.

2002:   19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East by Naomi Shihab Nye

2003:   Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

2004:   Under the Breadfruit Tree by Monica Gunning, illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck

2005:   A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Philippe Lardy

2006:   Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

2007:   Tap Dancing on the Roof by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Istvan Banyai

2008:   Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

2009:   Yum! MmMm! Que Rico! by Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

2010:   Amazing Faces collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet

2011:   Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

2012:   The Wild Book by Margarita Engle

 

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem – Irene has a group zoo poem on offer today so head on over.

And P.S. We’ve just launched our own Facebook Page – PaperTigers: Books + Water – do visit us.

 

 

Poetry Friday: Billy Collins Action Poetry – “Now and Then” animated by Eun-Ha Paek

Friday, October 12th, 2012

On Wednesday we launched our 10th Anniversary celebrations – and we hope you’ll join us for some special features over the coming month. One of our new features is a catch-up Gallery of Eun-Ha Paek’s artwork (we first featured her in our early days back in 2002).  Eun-Ha is not only our web designer but she is also an artist, and she often combines her two talents to create very special digital animations. While researching her work for our feature, I came across this beautiful animation of the deceptively simple poem “Now and Then” that forms part of Billy Collins Action Poetry:

Billy Collins has given a TED talk about the Action Poetry project that includes viewings of some of them (plus a bonus original poem that I loved – anyone with teenage children, daughters especially, will empathise!).

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Betsy at Teaching Young Writers.