Friday, April 4, 2014

Poetry + Fact = Picture Book Fun! by Patricia Toht

I confess.

I have a crush.

Oh my! Not this -  



            This -                  



My crush is lasting.

It began in 2006, when the Caldecott committee awarded an Honor medal to the picture book, Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems. 




I bought a copy and discovered not only wonderful woodblock, hand-colored illustrations by Beckie Prange, but also page after page of witty poems and fascinating facts.

What? Poetry and nonfiction? Together? In one book?

A pairing as perfect as peas and carrots! Strawberries and cream! Chocolate and more chocolate! I was smitten.

The book's author is Joyce Sidman, whom I consider to be the queen, the Grand High Poobah, the doyenne of this style of writing. (Too much? Am I gushing?) My personal favorite of her books is Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night (a Newbery Honor book, illustrated by Rick Allen).



This collection of poems explores the nighttime forest. The opening poem invites the reader to:

"Come feel the cool and shadowed breeze,
come smell your way among the trees,
come touch rough bark and leathered leaves..."

Each spread combines a clever poem with a column of factual information. The length and language of the lyrical and nonfiction parts are in perfect balance. Her observations are amazing. Wonderful for elementary school students and poetry lovers, too.

But watch out, Joyce Sidman! Others are vying for my attention.

Laura Purdie Salas has authored two books that fit the mold:


A Leaf Can Be...                     and                     Water Can Be...











For a younger-aged reader, each book consists of a single poem - a few luscious words per page that tease readers to discover the diverse and amazing uses of leaves and water. Illustrations by Violetta Dabija are as soft and cozy as a cashmere sweater. Factual information is left to the end of the book, so it doesn't interrupt the flow of the poems.

I also recently picked up Jennifer Ward's Mama Built a Little Nest. 

Another great book for younger ages! Snappy four-line poems describe different types of nests being built, and snippets of facts expand the information. Realistic paper collage illustrations by Steve Jenkins had me thinking a bird might actually hop off the page and into my hands. 

April is poetry month and the perfect excuse to read a book that combines poetry and fact. Maybe you'll develop a crush, too! 

Find Joyce Sidman here, Laura Purdie Salas here, and Jennifer Ward here.
(And don't forget to sign up for our party prizes!
              On this side >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>)

59 comments:

  1. Love your voice on this post! Hooray for poetry month. Thanks for sharing these books.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I share your crushes Patricia - these are some of my most favorite books! Steve Jenkins is amazing - what he can do with collage - Wow!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to know I have good company in my crushes! ;-)

      Delete
  3. I've savored several of these books--now to put the remainder on my reading list! The different illustration styles are intriguing along with the poems.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the examples you gave here. They are examples of how sometimes the resulting combinations are even better than the sum of the two great pieces (poem and illustrations).

    ReplyDelete
  5. You've made me a fan!! Off to find these books...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me know what other ones you find, Kristi. I'm always adding to my list. :) Happy reading!

      Delete
    2. I have a Pinterest board that's rhyming nonfiction books--maybe a few you haven't seen yet... http://www.pinterest.com/salaslp/rhyming-nonfiction-picture-books/

      Delete
  6. Great post! I think poetry is a great way to activate the right brain in left brain content areas such as science and math. Students may be bored or have trouble comprehending concepts or textbooks in those areas, and poetry can open their minds to wonder and curiosity, and make them willing--even eager--to give it a go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great point about right and left brain areas, Jane. A great new resource for science is Sylvia Vardell's anthology THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR SCIENCE.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  7. I love rhyming PBs and have just gotten into NF writing. This post was very timely and useful for me. I look forward to checking out the recommended books. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck with your writing, Rebecca!

      Delete
  8. I am a big Joyce Sidman fan. I love her book Dark Emperor and Butterfly Eyes and will get Song of the Water Boatman. My favorite, though, is What the Heart Knows. I also like Laura Purdie Salas's books. They are fun. I haven't read Mama Built a Little Nest. It sounds great. I'll check it out as well. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love What the Heart Knows! Amazon has it pegged for high school age - what do you think, Rosi?

      Delete
  9. Dear Patricia, what a good timing of your post! Yesterday I helped my daughter's teacher copy and laminate some poems from Laura. I was quite amazed by the poems and wanted to find out more. Now you gave me all the references. Thank you!

    Ping Wan

    (I guess it's poetry month and all poetry lovers are in action :) )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad it helped, Ping Wan. Poetry lovers are indeed in action this month and I'm enjoying it.

      Delete
  10. Loved RED SINGS FROM THE TREETOPS, and just placed Ms. Sidman's others on hold. Science and poetry are my first loves. I'm going to look into this more and thank you for the great post, Patricia. :0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Donna. I love RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS, too. And I just noticed that it was a Caldecott Honor winner, too!

      Delete
  11. Joyce definitely has The GHP thing going--and Laura too! Thanks for mentioning The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, Patricia. Everyone: please look for Sylvia's feature article on poetry and science in this month's SCIENCE AND CHILDREN (the elementary journal of the NSTA)!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Janet, help me with 'GHP'? My brain isn't connecting with a meaning. (I popped GHP into Google and it came up with Good Hygiene Practices - haha!)

      Delete
  12. P.S. Happy to say that our books (K-5 Teacher's Edition and grade-level Student Editions) are the Poetry Foundation's "Children's Poet Laureate 'Pick of the Month'" for April! http://www.poetryfoundation.org/children/poet-laureate-book-picks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great news, Janet! I've been finding excerpts from the anthology peppered around the internet and the poems are so good.

      Delete
  13. A Lovely community of answers & ideas here, Pat. The JS & LPS titles are one I've shared with kiddos.

    I hope it's okay to share one link (there are several) for the PF anthology.
    http://readingyear.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-poetry-friday-anthology-for-science.html

    It's not only sweet to spend time with poets I know, but thank you for bringing an author new to me, Jennifer Ward. And I like how paper collage opens up child eyes wide, mebe because it's an artform they easily pick up, even at home. Looking forward to seeing each little Steve Jenkins nest for the JW poems.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hmmmm.... a poetry and nonfiction combo...I'd say the possibilities are endless, and endlessly fascinating...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! So many ideas to explore. Good luck, Christine!

      Delete
  15. This is a great post. I love poetry and nonfiction. Some of my favorite books are written by Verla Kay. The mix of poetry and history is amazing. I've used IRON HORSES, 191-words picture book to teach about the railroad in seventh grade history classes. The rhythm keeps the 12-yr-olds focus. I also love Nancy I. Sanders D IS FOR DRINKING GOURD. Four line stanza poems explain different events in African-American history. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Two great suggestions, Jackie! Thank you.

      Delete
  16. Nice! I love non fiction and poetry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many great nonfic/poetery books out there these days. Happy reading, Mona!

      Delete
  17. DARK EMPEROR is one of my favorites, too - Joyce Sidman is just wonderful. I was pleased to contribute to the Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, which was a new world for me. Intimidating at first for this non-science person, but then I really got into it. Definitely sparked more interest in the possibilities for non-fiction poetry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you stopped by, Renee! Congrats on the poems in the anthology.
      I've been hearing great things about your Lyrical Language Lab - it's on my list of classes to take.

      Delete
  18. I can't wait to read all your faves! Thx for sharing!Non-fiction poetry/rhyme is a unique and essential gift to children and teachers! Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I discovered Dark Emperor yesterday and blogged about it today. I am in love. Ditto A Leaf Can Be. I hadn't read a picture book so spare and lyrical in a long time. I haven't read Mama Built a Little Nest, but as a fan of Steve Jenkins's work, I'm sure to be dazzled. Thanks for highlighting these marvelous books.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for the references. Not sure if I've heard of poetry and nonfiction either, but it works!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Love poetry and non-fiction together, and just sent off my own collection, as a matter of fact. Leslie Bulion also has some wonderful collections out there. Thanks for this fab. post about one of my very favorite sub-genres of non-fiction!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck with your submission, Liana!

      Delete
  22. I love the cover of "Water Can Be..." Thank you for sharing these books, I will definitely check them out to learn more about non-fiction

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let us know if you find some other wonderful examples. :)

      Delete
  23. Such an outstanding post for poetry month, Patricia. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the books that are featured. Poetry truly does have some *lucious words;* words that jus roll off your tongue. ~Suzy

    ReplyDelete
  24. loving rhyming month and completely off the topic where did you find those two little dolls? My daughter had a set which went missing in a house move and this is the first time I have ever seen their like. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cecilia, I pulled the photo from morguefile, so I don't actually own them. I looked for more info there, but didn't find any. The dolls are adorable, aren't they? I hope you're able to find some replacements for your daughter.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for looking Patricia, I appreciate that, Yes they are adorable. We actually lost a whole box of porcelain dolls of my daughters but these things happen. She moved into teens and cosplay costumes instead.

      Delete
  25. Oh, what a lovely post. Thank you, Patricia! I am, of course, an enormous Joyce Sidman fan--I think she was the first melding of poetry and nonfiction I read--and I fell in love immediately. MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST looks wonderful! I'm off to put that on reserve:>)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Happy to introduce your books to even more people, Laura. They're wonderful! Can't wait to see what else you have up your writer's sleeve.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I love rhyming picture books! I am, however, still finding my feet as to writing them myself though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep at it, Becky - it takes lots of practice. :) Good luck!

      Delete
  28. Hey all, I discovered a mistake I made in the post and have corrected it. Dark Emperor won the NEWBERY Honor, not the Caldecott.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks for inviting me to the party! Looking forward to reading more!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Cool, some more awesome books for me to read.

    ReplyDelete