Monday, April 27, 2009


Bernier-Grand, Carmen T. 2007. Frida: viva la vida = long live life. New York: Marshall Cavendish Children/Marshall Cavendish Corp.

Florian, Douglas. 1994. Bing bang boing: poems and drawings. San Diego: Harcourt Brace.

Franco, Betsy, and Michael Wertz. 2009. A curious collection of cats. Berkeley, Calif: Tricycle.

Franco, Betsy, and Nina Nickles. 2001. Things I have to tell you: poems and writing by teenage girls. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.

Greenfield, Eloise. 1978. Honey, I love, and other love poems. New York: Crowell.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett, and Karen Barbour. 2001. Marvelous math: a book of poems. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett, and Stephen Alcorn. 2000. My America: a poetry atlas of the United States. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Janeczko, Paul B. 2004. Blushing: expressions of love in poems & letters. New York: Orchard Books.

Larrick, Nancy, and Ed Young. 1988. Cats are cats: poems. New York: Philomel Books.

Livingston, Myra Cohn, and Antonio Frasconi. 1990. If the owl calls again: a collection of owl poems. New York: M.K. McElderry Books.

Moore, Lilian. 1982. Something new begins--: new and selected poems. New York: Atheneum.

Myers, Walter Dean, and Christopher Myers. 2006. Jazz. New York: Holiday House.

Prelutsky, Jack, and Carin Berger. Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant: And Other Poems. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2006.

Schroeder, Lisa. 2008. I heart you, you haunt me. New York: Simon Pulse.

Viorst, Judith, and Lynne Cherry. 1981. If I were in charge of the world and other worries: poems for children and their parents. New York: Atheneum.

Worth, Valerie, and Natalie Babbitt. 1994. All the small poems and fourteen more. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Module 6- Book Review- Blushing

Blushing: Expressions of Love in Poems & Letters

Janeczko, Paul B. 2004. Blushing: expressions of love in poems & letters. New York: Orchard Books.


Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.
--- Rumi

As the title states, Blushing is a collection of love poems & letters covering all facets of love. This anthology is divided up into five parts: I. The Beginning of Love, II. In Love, III. Alone in Love, IV. The End of Love, & V. Remembering Love. The beginning of each section is highlighted by a letter. Works of over 40 poets, both traditional and contemporary, are displayed. The poets range widely to include Rumi, William Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Nikki Giovanni, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Maya Angelou.

One struggles to find the proper words, the right words to express the deep thoughts and intense emotions exhibit by these poets. Chino Masako conveys new-fangled love in “I Shall Hide Myself:”

I shall hide myself
within the moon of the spring night,
after I have dared to reveal
my love to you.

In “Warmth,” Barton Sutter speaks of being in love:

Sometimes want makes touch too much.
I hold hands over your body
Like someone comes in from the cold
Who takes off his clothes
And hold out his hands to the stove.

Loneliness is the subject of “Separate” by W.S. Merwin:

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

Emily Dickinson addresses heartbreak in “Heart! We Will Forget Him:”

Heart! We will forget him!
You and I – tonight!
You may forget the warmth he gave—
I will forget the light!

“Longing” by Matthew Arnold is about unrequited love:

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again.
For then the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

All the poems reinforce the topic of their respective section and overall the theme of the book. This collection might not be as well appreciated or understood by young readers or those readers who have never experienced romantic love.

Module 6 - Poetry Break #6b

Poetry Break 6#b

Introduction: There are many joys to experience in life but with those joys also come disappointments. While we cannot avoid disappointments we can learn from them and move forward. Poetry is a wonderful way to express your feelings and begin the healing process. The following poem addresses a young girl’s heartbreak.


It’s not the size that counts
by Julia Gilliam, age 14

My hair blows in the wind, because it is growing regrets.
My eyes slant because I’m laughing, laughing at you.
My fist clench because I’m ready to fight, ready to fight you.
My shoulders are small, yet big enough to shrug you off.
My feet are tiny, yet big enough to walk away from you.
My hands are small, yet big enough to wave good-bye to you.
Smoke is coming from my mouth, because the fire in my heart for you
is out.
[written in chemistry]

[From: From: Things I have to tell you: poems and writing by teenage girls. By Betsy Franco and Nina Nickles, Candlewick Press, 2001.]

Extension: Have you students write a poem to express how they are feeling right now with no pressure to share with the class. Explain that every emotion both positive and negative can be expressed through poetry. As an alternate assignment have your students paint or draw how they are feeling.

Module 6 - Poetry Break #6a

Poetry Break #6a

Introduction: Body image is a very serious and sensitive issue for teens especially for young women. Our world sends the damaging message that one is not valued unless they are thin and attractive. Young women are pressured by society, their community, their peers, and sadly sometimes even their parents or other family members/adults. This strain is often on top of other demands such as excelling in school and performing well in sports and other extracurricular activities. The following poem expresses how one young woman feels the pressure to be perfect.


Be Perfect
by Laura Veuve

Be Perfect
Perfect brain
Perfect personality
Perfect face
Perfect body
Perfect body
Perfect body
--Shocking studies show eating disorders
on the rise in teenage girls—
You should have seen this coming
You raised me
Your society screwed me up
I read your hypocritical magazines
I went to your schools
I dealt with your sons’ running commentaries
my face
my weight
my breast
my body
My parents can’t protect me
My friends can’t protect me
My wonderful, loving,
ignorant community can’t protect me
So I protect them
I have to cope to survive
Why hurt them too?
Oh, I’m fine, Mom
~ smile ~
Be Perfect

[From: Things I have to tell you: poems and writing by teenage girls. By Betsy Franco and Nina Nickles, Candlewick Press, 2001.]

Extension: Let you students know that Ms. Veuve was 15 years old when she wrote this poem. Her feelings reflect how many young people feel about body image. Let your students know that there are no benefits from focusing on what they believe are their flaws. Ask them to list 5-10 good qualities they have (they do not have share this with class). Encourage your class to get plenty of exercise, even if it is only a 10 minute walk, and to make healthier food choices such as eating more fruits and vegetables. Ask them to spend less time in front of the mirror and to treat their bodies with respect and kindness.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Module 5 - Book Review - Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant and Other Poems

Prelutsky, Jack, and Carin Berger. 2006. Behold the bold umbrellaphant: and other poems. New York: Greenwillow Books.


The clever and witty Jack Prelutsky never ceases to amaze. His Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant is a collection of delightful and silly poems about creatures that are a unique combination of animal and object. Among the critters springing out of Prelutsky’s creative genius are pop-up toadsters, shoehornets, hatchickens, the ocelock, and the keymonkey. The poems display a wide variety of emotions and spark the imagination of young and older readers alike.

The ballpoint penguins enjoy writing:

The BALLPOINT PENGUINS, black and white,
Do little else but write and write.
Although they’ve nothing much to say,
They write and write it anyway.

The Lynx of Chain is always on the run and the Bizarre Alarmadillos are constantly upset. While the Tearful Zipperpotamuses are in constant pain:

They have zippers on their bellies,
On their legs and heads and backs,
But their zippers keep unzipping,
So they rarely can relax.

Carin Berger’s illustrations are eye-catching collages of these fascinating critters in their native habitat. Appealing and stimulating, these images are very much a part of the poems they accompany. Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant is a must have for all personal libraries.

Module 5 - Poetry Break #5b

Poetry Break #5b

Introduction: Sometimes poetry and artwork are inseparable as it is with concerte poems. Expose your students to the beauty and flexibility of concerte poems.


her royal highness
(concerte poem- see image below)
by Besty Franco


Sunbeams Catch The Cat/ Curled Up On Her/ Throne Of/ Folded Laundry

[From: A curious collection of cats. By Besty Franco and Michael Wertz, Tricycle, 2009]

Extension: Go head, dive right in, and treat the class to the whole book. Ask your students if they have cats or other pets at home; ask your students if any of the poems remind them of their pets. You can also have your students create their own concerte poems.

For fun check out this clip:¤t=PICT0053.flv

Module 5 - Poetry Break #5a

Poetry Break #5a

Introduction: Poems that contain a refrain are great to present to children. Read the poem first. Then invite them to participate in the second reading by reciting the refrain every time it appears.


Wanted—A Witch’s Cat
by Shelagh McGee

Wanted—a witch’s cat, (refrain)
Must have vigor and spite,
Be expert at hissing,
And good in a flight,
And have balance and poise
On a broomstick at night.

Wanted—a witch’s cat, (refrain)
Must have hypnotic eyes
To tantalize victims
And mesmerize spies,
And be adept
At scanning the skies.

Wanted—a witch’s cat, (refrain)
With a sly, cunning smile,
And knowledge of spells
And a good deal of guile,
With a fairly hot temper
And plenty of bile.

Wanted—a witch’s cat, (refrain)
Who’s not afraid to fly,
For a cat with strong nerves
The salary’s high
Wanted—a witch’s cat;
Only the best need apply.

[From: Cats are cats: poems. By Nancy Larrick and Ed Young, Philomel Books, 1988.]

Extension: Present to the class another cat poem with a refrain such as "Chang McTang McQuarter Cat" by John Ciardi or share a poem that contains a chorus like "Rat for Lunch" by Jack Prelutsky.