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Poetry

Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino, ill. by Steven Kellogg

Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino, ill. by Steven Kellogg

Is Your Mama a Llama? was one of my favorite books from when I was little. Clyde the llama knows that his mama is a llama, but is wondering about all his friends' mamas. As he goes around asking them about their mamas, they each describe their mama's particular behavior. From this, Clyde can figure out what kind of animal each one is. These descriptions make this a fun guessing game if you hide the pictures of the offspring from your young listener. The illustrations themselves are beautiful, and all of the animals eyes are full of life and personality. Either way you choose to read it, this book has a lovely rhythm and rhyme scheme which is why I can still recite most of it today.

Number of Pages: 
32

Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle

Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle

In the mid-19th century, over a quarter of a million Chinese people were sent to Cuba and Peru as indentured servants. After serving eight years, they had the "option" (which wasn't always an option) of resigning for another eight years, but many did seek independence and fought for the freedom of all of Cuba's citizens. Then, in the 1870s, anti-Asian riots in California sent many Chinese-Americans to seek refuge in Cuba, bringing with them American ideals of liberty and thus bolstering the cause of Cuban independence. Amid all this, Antonio Chuffat, a young journalist, captured the spirit and voices of the oppressed Chinese living in Cuba in attempts to reverse their fate and change the country's use of forced labor.

Lion Island is the final installment of Margarita Engle's fantastic quasi-series of novels-in-verse about real life heroes who struggled to help Cuba fight slavery and achieve independence from Spain. I love the range of voices here, which highlight a part of history of which I was previously unaware. I am sorry to learn that this is the last book in this vein of her historical fiction novels, but I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next of her prolific, insightful, and lovely poetic histories.

Number of Pages: 
163

Moo by Sharon Creech

Moo by Sharon Creech

When twelve year old Reena's family moves unexpectedly from the city to rural Maine, her daily life suddenly changes. At least she and her brother have a while before school starts to get used to the town and explore -- until, that is, they are volunteered to help a cranky neighbor with whatever she needs. The older woman has a close-knit family consisting of herself, her pig, her cat, her parrot, her snake and one very stubborn cow. Reena has no experience with any livestock but finds herself in charge.

Moo is told in verse, a collection of short poems and the occasional prose chapter. Creech uses the visual space to also enhance the story and it is great fun to read.

Number of Pages: 
278

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman; illustrated by Rick Allen

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman; illustrated by Rick Allen

Award-winning children’s poet Joyce Sidman is back with her latest nature-inspired collection, this time highlighting the flora and fauna that thrive in the winter. From bees to moose, skunk cabbage to snowflakes, Sidman uses a variety of poetic structures and devices to personify and celebrate these beings. Each poem is accompanied by a short discussion providing more information about the subject, and readers will also find the glossary at the end very helpful. Rick Allen has produced stunning linoleum prints for the book, perfect for evoking the velvety, snow-covered wildlife. This is a beautiful collection of poetry best suited for grade-schoolers and nature buffs alike!

Number of Pages: 
40

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Shane W. Evans

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Twelve-year-old Amira enjoys her life in her small farming village in Southern Darfur and doesn’t quite understand the danger adults speak of until tragedy finally strikes her village. With barely more than the clothes on her back, Amira and her family must seek safety in a relocation camp, and the only salvation she finds is in a little red pencil that allows her to seek the words and pictures she’s been denied for most her life.

Through the medium of a verse novel, Andrea Davis Pinkney sheds light on the conflict in Darfur in a way that is accessible to intermediate readers. Each poem is a gem that highlights Amira’s experiences, varying in construction and poetic elements to keep readers interested. Evans’ pencil illustrations are featured throughout the novel, reflecting Amira’s own artistic talent and interests. Recommended for children ages 9 and up.

Also available on OverDrive as a downloadable audiobook, but be sure to check out a copy of the book as well to really appreciate the illustrations and the poetic structure!

Number of Pages: 
308

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson; illustrated by Hadley Hooper

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson; illustrated by Hadley Hooper

In How I Discovered Poetry, award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson has crafted 50 poems that follow her life throughout the 1950s. As the daughter of one of first career Air Force African American men, she provides a unique view of the uprooted childhood that often results from such a family dynamic and reflects upon how the Civil Rights Movement and the Red Scare of the Cold War Era shaped her young life. Nelson explores her experiences as "The Speaker" to give her more flexibility and deftly constructs each poem using the structure of an unrhymed sonnet in iambic pentameter. This Coretta Scott King Honor book is a wonderful read on many levels--for the story, for the poetry, for the historical significance--and is a great companion to Jacqueline Woodson's memoir-in-verse, Brown Girl Dreaming (which won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature last year).

Number of Pages: 
103

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

In this beautiful memoir-in-verse, renowned author Jacqueline Woodson recounts her childhood--from her birth in Ohio in 1963, a move to South Carolina to be with her maternal grandparents, and eventually joining her mother in New York City. Through her personal experiences, we follow Woodson as she bonds with her family, discovers her talent for writing, and makes new friends. On a broader scale, we get a snapshot of the turbulent 1960s and '70s, from the Jim Crow to the Civil Rights Movement. The medium of poetry suits this memoir very well as each poem shines on its own as well as a whole, bringing an immediacy to each vignette. Woodson deservedly won the 2014 National Book Award for Young People's Literature for this treasure that people of all ages will enjoy.

Also available as a CD audiobook, as well as a downloadable e-book and audiobook from OverDrive.

Number of Pages: 
336

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry

We here at Brentwood Library are rabid fans of Lynda Barry. In her latest book, she collects her syllabi over the course of three years from art/science/English classes she taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These classes were designed to include students from all backgrounds to delve into where our creativity comes from, to think about how we think, and to get past the notion of "good" and "bad" when it comes to evaluating our own creative output. Incorporating poetry, brain research, class meeting agendas, homework instructions, and her own students' writing and drawings into her madcap collage and brush illustration style, Lynda Barry has created a how-to guide to inspire readers to pick up some crayons and get to work. I dare you to come away from this without total enthusiasm to start on your own doodles.

Number of Pages: 
200

Syllabus by Lynda Barry

Syllabus by Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry is amazing! This book is to die for! This is Barry's spruced up syllabi from her courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There is homework and artwork, poetry and science. Did I mention that it is amazing? If you want to pick up drawing and writing (again) pick this book up! I have to go buy a composition book right now to fill up using a non-photo pencil and a flair pen, but if you like this one, I highly recommend One Hundred Demons as well. That book made my head explode. And this one made it explode all over again.

Number of Pages: 
200

Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge

Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge

Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses is a collection of fairy tales retold in verse, illustrated by beautiful paper cutouts. The collection, intended for teens, sometimes changes the original story; some are as dark as the Grimm originals, or follow the villains of the story rather than the heros. Koertge gives extra insight into the attitudes of the well-known characters and a modern edge to the age-old stories.

Number of Pages: 
87