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Best & Brightest Children's Poetry of 2019


This Best & Brightest list was created by Denver Public Library librarians to celebrate our favorite recently published children's poetry. Enjoy!

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The Undefeated
Alexander, Kwame, author.
Kindergarten-8th grade. Poet Kwame Alexander teams up with illustrator Kadir Nelson to create a stunning lyrical and visual tribute to the joys, sorrows and strengths of the African American community. The use of white space focuses the reader’s attention on the text and illustrations, while thoughtful page breaks keep the rhythm and power of the poem intact. Readers explore the black experience through history and into the present day with strength and resilience laying a foundation for hope into the future. Back matter includes an afterword by Alexander, as well as additional information about historical figures and events featured in the book.
Climbing Shadows: Poems For Children
Bramer, Shannon, author.
2nd-5th grade. Inspired by her work in a kindergarten classroom, Bramer wrote a poem for each child in the class. The collection covers a wide range of everyday childhood experiences, from birthday parties to school and everything in between. Each poem is written mostly in free verse and honors the child’s experience and their emotional complexity. Derby’s watercolor, India ink and digital collage illustrations reflect the mood of each poem and are a perfect match for this thoughtful collection.
Up Verses Down: Poems, Paintings, And Serious Nonsense
Brown, Calef, author.
2nd-5th grade. From “The Intro” to “The Outro,” the nonsense never stops. Brown’s latest poetry collection includes comical wordplay, rich vocabulary and a boatload of silliness. The poems and illustrations weave themes of unity and inclusivity into the humor, exemplifying that messages don’t always need to be serious to be taken seriously. Many of the poems celebrate writing and creativity, culminating with an invitation to readers to create their own masterpieces.
Dreams From Many Rivers: A Hispanic History Of The United States Told In Poems
Engle, Margarita, author.
5th-8th grade. Journey through 500 years of history with this collection of free-verse poetry told in Hispanic, Latino and Indigenous Taíno voices. The book is divided into six parts: "Freedom,” “Survivors,” “Independence for Some,” “Heroes,” “¡Sí Se Puede!/Yes We Can!” and “For Our Lives.” Each contains its own brief introduction providing historical context for the poems that follow. The poems feature the perspectives of both historical figures and fictional characters, which are enhanced by Hernandez’s black and white illustrations. The content and multiple perspectives make this title an excellent way to extend and expand the history curriculum in the classroom.
Boom! Bellow! Bleat!: Animal Poems For Two Or More Voices
Heard, Georgia.
Kindergarten-5th grade. What sounds do animals really make? Georgia Heard broadens readers’ understanding of animal sounds through brief poems written to be read aloud. Voices combine to reveal the songs of geese, whales, rattlesnakes and more, while DeWitt’s vibrant illustrations depict the animals with accuracy and whimsy. The color-coded text helps readers know when it is their turn to speak. The poetry placement among several of the illustrations adds to the feeling that the animals are raising their own voices. With additional information about each animal included at the end, this poetry collection will appeal to animal lovers of all ages.
Hutchens, Verlie, author.
Preschool-3rd grade. Enter into the quiet, strong world of trees. Verlie Hutchens’ poems celebrate a variety of trees found across the United States. Each poem, while brief, reveals the essence of the tree it describes with a combination of personified characteristics and precise language. The two-page spreads alternate between horizontal and vertical layouts, not only adding visual variety and interest, but also emphasizing the vastness of Oaks, Spruce and Sequoias. Block print swirls add wind and light to each landscape, and color palette changes complement the tone of each tree and poem. Readers inspired by nature will fall in love with this short poetry collection.
Lion Of The Sky: Haiku For All Seasons
Salas, Laura Purdie, author.
1st-5th grade. Journey through the four seasons in this innovative collection of “riddle-ku.” Riddle-ku, a form created by Salas, combines the traditional structure of American haiku (a three-line poem with five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables pattern) with a mask poem in which something nonhuman narrates the poem. The result is a joyful celebration of language and the changing seasons, which would work well as an interactive read aloud. López’s evocative, muted acrylic illustrations provide hints to each riddle-ku answer. Back matter includes information about the riddle-ku form, an answer key and a poetry bibliography for further reading.
Soccerverse: Poems About Soccer
Steinglass, Elizabeth, author.
1st-5th grade. Some kids play soccer, and some choose to live it. Soccerverse: Poems About Soccer has something for all who are drawn to the sport. It dives into multiple elements of the game--from the ball, to the various positions, to the passion and love it evokes, utilizing a variety of poetic forms to marvelous effect. While each poem shines independently, taken as a whole, the collection celebrates the universal experience of playing soccer. The saturated illustrations feature players with different skin tones who all love the game and experience its highs and lows. Clean lines and curves further the sense of motion and emotion evoked in the text. Whether a veteran or first-year player, readers will love seeing themselves in the Soccerverse.
Hawks Kettle, Puffins Wheel And Other Poems Of Birds In Flight
Vande Griek, Susan, 1950- author.
2nd-5th grade. Birds fly, but they also stoop, skein, mob and murmurate! This collection of poems celebrates the unique flying characteristics of a variety of birds from crows and geese to falcons and eagles. Each page spread features a poem along with a brief informational paragraph about the featured bird’s flight pattern. Hoffman’s gouache and digital illustrations mirror the movement and motion depicted in each poem. At the end, a glossary, an illustrated guide to types of feathers and additional information about each bird encourage readers to learn more.
The Day The Universe Exploded My Head: Poems To Take You Into Space And Back Again
Wolf, Allan, author.
2nd-5th grade. Personified planets and celestial scientists star in this humorous collection of poems about space. Starting with the sun, readers are introduced to various elements of our solar system, galaxy and beyond through clever rhymes that educate as well as entertain. Wolf utilizes a variety of poetic forms, including several meant for multiple voices. Raff’s lighthearted ink wash illustrations shine against dark, starry backgrounds and match the tone of each poem. The notes and glossary included at the end make this a natural fit for elementary classrooms.