We’re getting to a time of year when seasonal books are flying off the shelves. People are coming in asking for holiday books and new versions of old classics and holiday tales starring familiar characters. But when picking gifts for older readers, sometimes it’s nice to give a book with beautiful illustrations and words that resonate beyond winter. Here are two books suited to older readers or perhaps a family to whom you want to give something special.
What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings by Joyce Sidman, illus. by Pamela Zagarenski; Houghton Mifflin; 16.99; Ages 12 and up
Sidman’s latest book of poetry tackles some of the harder moments in a lifetime: heartache, illness, and loss. In four different sections, Sidman celebrates the idea of words as magical. The section headings (Chants, Charms, Spells, etc.) reinforce this idea, that words can smooth over hurt places and help us heal. Beautiful mixed-media illustrations by Zagarenski, twice a Caldecott Honor winner, capture the essence of each selection. This is a wonderful choice for a loved one, a teen getting ready for new experiences, or anyone facing change in their life.
Giving Thanks by Katherine Paterson, illus. by Pamela Dalton; Chronicle Books; 18.99; Ages 6-10
Celebrated author Katherine Paterson brings a calm wisdom to this collection of poems, prayers and praise songs, just in time for Thanksgiving. If you are looking for a new reading to share with family at your dinner table or just to read in quiet moments, this is a wonderful choice. Paterson includes prayers and poetry from different cultures, Bible selections alongside Native American blessings, lyrics to spirituals, and “Amazing Grace.” Dalton’s illustrations are traditional scherenschnitte paper cuttings. Elaborate borders and page edgings are in white and some pieces are painted with watercolors, creating a nice contrast. This beautifully designed book would be a special addition to any family collection.
The poems in Follow Follow are mostly short and deceptively simple. You read one poem top to bottom. Then on the other side of the page is the exact same poem written backward (only changes in punctuation or capitalization are allowed). You’ll be amazed at the new voices, details and attitudes that emerge simply from reading the words in reverse order. Following the fairy tale theme of Mirror, Mirror, each poem connects to a story either well known (The Three Little Pigs, The Twelve Dancing Princesses) or slightly more obscure (Pied Piper of Hamelin, Puss in Boots). Hans Christian Andersen is especially well represented here, with ‘Thumbelina’, ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Nightingale’ among others. Singer achieves the best results with poems connected to fairy tales with clear oppositional characters. ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ from the Tortoise and the Hare is especially witty. Poems that present a dilemma from two points of view, such as ‘The Little Mermaid’s Choice’ are sometimes less immediately engaging. Masse’s clever illustrations make use of a split page to show either two different characters or the same character in different attitudes, as in the sweet final selection ‘Now it’s Time to Say Good-Night.’ This will be a great addition to bedtime reading or classroom shelves everywhere.
Follow Follow: a Book of Reverso Poems, by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse, Dial, $16.99
Singer brings her signature style of vivid language and precise poetry forms to this collection about animals that live in dangerous habitats. While some kids can tell you everything about the zebra or the tiger, others are committed to learning about far stranger creatures. The anglerfish is always popular, as is the electric eel. Singer has created a book to aid those children who live for the moment when they spout a fact and their friends respond “Whaaat? They do what? They live where?”
Singer uses poetry forms such as the triolet, haiku, sonnet and villanelle to give information about a list of animals just as diverse. From the Humbolt penguin to the ice worm to camel, these creatures live in habitats all over the world, all of them dangerous places where you need special skills to survive. At the back are further notes about each species, as well as a note about the poetry forms. As a teacher, I love using poetry to teach science because all the information is there, but not up front. You have to read carefully and think about the language in order to understand that the flamingos eat shrimp from the salt lakes. Singer’s poems are perfect to read if you want to learn a little about the fascinating species of our planet.
A Strange Place to Call Home by Marilyn Singer, Chronicle Books, $16.99
Sometimes poetry gets a bad rap. In school, poetry always ended up being the “boring” subject that no one wanted to participate in and I think if kids just had the right poems in their hands, they would see how fun and interesting poetry can really be!
April is National Poetry Month and we have a great poetry section in the store that will certainly spark an interest in your kids. Funny poems, shorts poems, long poems, dog poems, etc. We have something for every reader! If you or your children haven’t yet read any poetry together, April is definitely the month to do so. You can learn more about National Poetry month here.
One of the fun events that happens during Poetry Month is Poem in Your Pocket Day, which we encourage everyone to participate in! It’s easy: just selection a poem that you love, carry it in your pocket on April 26th, and share it with your friends, family, coworkers, etc. Spread the poetry love!
If you come into Hooray for Books! and share your poem with us, you’ll receive a gift from our grab bag!
Poetry can be cool, fun, and exciting! Just because it’s not a book with chapters or a picture book with lots of illustrations doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. Encourage your kids to read poetry and to have fun with it! We would love to show you some of our favorites in the store.
Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein;$19.99; HarperCollins; Ages 4+
Here’s A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry by Jane Yolen and illustrator Polly Dunbar; $21.99; Candlewick Press; Ages 4+
Cristi loves finding the perfect book for customers and will always go out of her way to make sure you’re happy with your purchase! She loved a lot of books that were published this year and had a hard time choosing just a few! These are the ones that really stood out for her:
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness; $28.95; Penguin Group; Adult Fiction
It’s a Little Book by Lane Smith; $7.99; Roaring Brook Press; ages 2+
The Man in the Moon by William Joyce; $17.99; Simon & Schuster; ages 3+
Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein; $19.99; HarperCollins; ages 8+
Goodnight Ipad: A Parody for the Next Generation by Ann Droyd; $14.95; Penguin Group; ages 5+
Yes, you heard that right! Foremost Seuss scholar (how’s that for a job title?) Charles D. Cohen has rescued seven stories that were previously published in magazines, and then discarded with that month’s issue. With some persistent sleuthing, Mr. Cohen dug up those stories and published them in a wonderful new volume, “The Bippolo Seed and other Lost Stories.”
We are certainly indebted to Mr. Cohen! Fans of Seuss will know to expect outlandish creatures, exuberant rhyme, funny adventures, and even a little food for thought. You’ll find all that and more in “Bippolo Seed.” The title story explores the nature of greed, “The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga” is a witty tale of brains versus brawn, and “Steak for Supper” is populated with Gritches and Grikkles and Nuppers galore. My personal favorite, “The Great Henry McBride,” encourages children to use their imaginations and not limit themselves to one answer to that ubiquitous question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s an inspiring message for adults and children alike.
This book is a fantastic find for Seuss fans of all ages, especially those of you who can’t stand the thought of yet another bedtime reading of “The Cat in the Hat!”
The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories; 15.00; Random House Books for Young Readers; Ages 4+
Everyone needs a little poetry in their lives and what better to read than poems about books? Author Laura Purdie Salas has created a wonderful collection of book-related poetry, perfect for reading with all ages.
Poems like “Calling All Readers” encourage us to put down our remotes and controllers and take an adventure within a book, and “Cliffhanger” brings us into the world of suspenseful endings. You’ll be able to feel the excitement of a great cliffhanger after reading that poem! Our favorite here at Hooray for Books! would have to be “Lights Out at the Bookstore,” in which anxious readers await the closing of a bookstore (when the real party begins, of course).
Colorful, collage illustrations bring a sense of whimsy and charm to this lovely poetry collection. A beautiful gift for a child…or an adult who loves books!
Book Speak: Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas; $16.99; Clarion Books; Ages 5+