If I could, I would be a kids’ poetry teacher. Does such a job exist? I wish it did. I adore teaching poetry. I adore poetry books written for children. It would be dreamy to spend my days introducing young’uns to beautiful verses and talented poets. There’s been a bit of a shift away from teaching kids to read and write poetry, I think, with so much emphasis being placed on developing literacy skills that are “practical” in the world. In my experience, children enjoy reading and writing poetry. It would be a shame to sacrifice that experience in the name of teaching more “job related” text forms. Reading and writing poetry teaches you to think, obvserve, pause and reflect. Pretty important skills for anyone in the “real world” I think.
I will now step down off my elf-sized soapbox to tell you a bit about a truly gorgeous poetry book for children, one that has been sitting on my desk for way too long, waiting to be reviewed here at Shelf Elf. Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, is a collection of poems inspired by the seasons. This book celebrates the natural world as it moves from season to season, focusing on the colours as they change from spring all the way through to winter. The colours are actually more like characters. They sing and hold hands and sip lemonade and keep secrets. Sidman’s verses are perfect, with rich and evocative language that bring the essence of each time of year vividly to your mind. Here’s a bit on Fall,
old leaves, crushed berries,
squishy plums with worms in them.
Purple: the smell
of all things
But since it’s wintery now (finally a little snow in my neck of the woods), here is a snippet from the winter section:
traces its wet finger
on branches and stumps,
White dazzles day
and turns night
A wrestle, a romp,
winter tastes White.
Pamela Zaragrenski’s mixed media illustrations offer so much to look at. They are whimsical – a whale floats in the fall night sky behind the moon, the little creatures wear tiny crowns in all of the pictures. The collage elements are detailed and surprising, and just flicking through the book from beginning to end moves you from the fresh blues and greens of springtime to the dull grey and brown and bright white of winter. (*Sigh*)
From an educator’s perspective, this is a book that is teeming with potential curriculum connections: Science, Art, Language, Media. It’s a rich text for teaching, without a doubt.
Note: this is the second collaboration between Sidman and Zagarenski. You must also buy and love This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness, another book that makes me want to teach poetry and only poetry for ever and ever. I think these two ladies need to write more books. Give us more!
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Red Sings from Treetops is published by Houghton Mifflin.