This Best & Brightest list was created by Denver Public Library librarians to celebrate our favorite recently published children's poetry books. Enjoy!
Sing A Song Of Seasons
2nd-5th grade. This weighty volume includes 366 poems celebrating nature from poets like Emily Dickinson, Ogden Nash, Langston Hughes and translations of Native American songs. The poems are organized by month, starting with January 1. The entries take a wide variety of poetic forms and cover the big (seasons, weather) and the small (caterpillars, acorns). An introduction by the publisher invites readers to dive into the collection by reading in order, at random or by picking poems for special days. Each brightly colored mixed-media illustration covers a full-page spread. Some spreads have numerous poems grouped by subject while others highlight one poem. The illustrations are composed to provide plenty of empty space for each poem. This well-constructed book would make an excellent birthday or holiday gift to be treasured and revisited for many years
World Make Way : New Poems Inspired By Art From The Metropolitan Museum Of Art
4th-8th grade. Eighteen two-dimensional artworks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection are paired with poems commissioned for the book. Each poet brings a unique voice, perspective and poetic form to their interpretation, demonstrating that there are many ways to understand and relate to art. Variety of artistic and poetic styles and diversity of artists’ and poets’ backgrounds are a strength of this collection. The selected artworks represent a diverse array of times, cultures, mediums and subjects, including a cat stalking a spider, a young girl with her mom, wild horses being wrangled by handlers and skeletons working on crafts. Short end notes about the artists and poets provide more information. This collection will appeal to art and poetry lovers and makes an excellent classroom tool.
The Ghostly Carousel : Delightfully Frightful Poems
2nd-5th grade. Equal parts funny and scary, this irreverent collection includes 17 original poems about creepy creatures and one final relatable poem about a frightened boy alone in bed at night. These rhyming poems, full of rich vocabulary and alliteration, tell short stories about unexpected subjects, like a zombie family reunion, cannibal fondue, cheese filled fleas and more. Each full-page acrylic and gouache illustration enhances the poems. The folk art style and an earthy, green-tinted color palette add an air of decay. This is a perfect volume to read aloud or to recommend for a reader looking for a scary book.
Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Black Boy
2nd-5th grade. With a nod to Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and Raymond R. Patterson’s Twenty-Six Ways of Looking at Black Man, Medina introduces the reader to 13 black boys through a form of Japanese poetry called tanka. These short, accessible poems celebrate the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC and the diverse experiences of the black boys who live there. The variety of illustrators and artistic styles, from Floyd Coopers’ warm oil wash to Euka Holmes’ vibrant collage, mirrors the uniqueness of the children. Medina’s book is a great choice to inspire budding poets and artists.
Martin Rising : Requiem For A King
4th-8th grade. Husband and wife team, Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, combine their poetic and visual storytelling gifts in this powerful homage to Martin Luther King Jr. Divided into three parts (Daylight, Darkness, Dawn), the book follows King’s time in Memphis supporting striking sanitation workers, the horror of his assassination and the devastating aftermath for his family and the entire country. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s writing deftly weaves biography and history into verse that begs to be read aloud. Brian Pinkney’s watercolor, gouache and India ink illustrations add emotional depth and connect readers to not just King, but a wide variety of people and events of the time. This book includes extensive back matter: author and artist reflections, a timeline, historical narrative, photographs and list of sources.
The Horses's Haiku
2nd-5th grade. Author-illustrator team Rosen and Fellows follow up their earlier collaboration, The Cuckoo’s Haiku and Other Birding Poems (2009), with this new collection about horses. The poems are grouped into three sections (In the Field, At the Barn, In Saddle) and celebrate not only horses, but also the people who care for them and the natural world. Denver illustrator Fellows’ lush watercolors capture the mood of Rosen’s meditative verse. A perfect choice as a gift book for a young horse lover, this collection would also work well for classroom poetry units.
Every Month Is A New Year : Celebrations Around The World
2nd-5th grade. Dancing, eating grapes and smashing pots are some of the ways people around the world ring in the new year. This collection contains 16 original poems about these holiday traditions. Each poem is written in the voice of a celebrating child. There are plenty of differences between holidays, but the themes of hope and family run throughout. In a fun twist, the book opens like a wall calendar, with the illustration on the top page and the poem and a grid on the bottom page. Colorful torn-paper illustrations match the festive feel of the poems. The first and last poems, titled “The Year Turns” and “Turning the Year”, are mirrors of each other, and reference Singer’s series of reverso poetry collections, such as 2010’s Mirror, Mirror. Copious endnotes, a pronunciation guide and bibliography will satisfy readers whose curiosity is sure to be aroused by this multicultural collection.
With My Hands : Poems About Making Things
Preschool-2nd grade. Children and their creativity take center stage in this book celebrating making in all its forms: drawing, building, painting and much more. Lively, rhyming text is paired with colorful illustrations rendered in acrylic, crayon, ink, colored pencil and collage. The illustrations feature children with varying skin tones actively engaged in making or being transported via their imaginations into their creations (riding atop a whale or spaceship, snuggled up with a polar bear). This title is great for classroom use or to spark ideas for making at home.
Sakura's Cherry Blossoms
Preschool-2nd grade Sakura’s family is moving from Japan to the United States. She leaves behind her beloved Obaachan (grandmother) and the warm spring days they spent together under their favorite cherry tree. Just as Sakura is beginning to feel at home in her new country and make friends, Obaachan becomes ill and Sakura and her family return to Japan to say goodbye. Weston tells this moving story of love, family and friendship via a series of tanka poems. Saburi’s appealing Photoshop illustrations reflect both warm moments with family and friends, as well as Sakura’s loneliness and grief. An afterword explains the the history and structure of tanka and encourages readers to try writing some of their own.
Did You Hear What I Heard? : Poems About School
Preschool-2nd grade. This lively collection of poems covers the everyday joys and trials of elementary school. Winters’ rhyming, first-person verses take the readers through experiences such as rushing to the bus stop, celebrating a snow day and the agony of tests and head lice. Barton’s warm digital illustrations feature children with varying skin tones and bring the narrators of the poems to life. This collection works well for both classroom use and for reading aloud at home.