Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April is National Poetry Month!

"If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!"
- Shel Silverstein, "Invitation" from Where the Sidewalk Ends

April is National Poetry Month which ties in very nicely with our April book club selection, The Aurora County All-Stars, a book all about baseball and poetry. (I wish I could take credit and say that of course, I planned it all this way, but it really was just a lucky coincidence that I chose Aurora County now). Anyway, I thought I'd start off this lenghty post with Shel Silverstein's wonderful poem "Invitation" from one of the best poetry books ever (in my opinion) Where the Sidewalk Ends. Sidewalk was first published in 1974 but is as wonderful today as it was then with great poems like "Boa Constrictor" and my personal favorite "Sick" which is about a girl who complains that she is very ill and can't go to school until she finds out it's actually Saturday. So great!

Aurora County is centered around Walt Whitman's poetry, specifically his book Leaves of Grass. These are the lines that have such a profound effect on the main character, House Jackson:

"After the dazzle of day is gone,
Only the dark, dark night shows to my eyes the stars.
After the clangor of organ majestic, or chorus, or perfect band,
Silent, athwart my soul, moves the symphony true."
- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Very thought provoking and very important to the plot and House's personal journey. We will have much to discuss at the book club meeting on the 28th!

I also wanted to take a moment to recommend some poetry books for you to enjoy this month. There are so, so many wonderful poetry books that it is almost ridiculous to try and highlight only a few as "the ones worth checking out." So instead I will recommend just a few of my favorites:

A Maze Me: Poems for Girls by Naomi Shihab Nye - I really love Naomi Shihab Nye. She has a lot of books out and this is a great one to start with if you haven't read her work before.

"Life is a tangle of
twisting paths.
Some short.
Some long.
There are dead ends.
And there are choices.
And wrong turns,
and detours,
and yield signs,
and instruction booklets,
and star maps,
and happiness,
and loneliness.
And friends.
And sisters.
And love.
And poetry.

Life is a maze.
You are a maze.
And amazing.

Poems in Black and White by Kate Miller - This 2007 book is new to our collection and wonderful in its exploration of black and white in both the poems and illustrations. It really makes you think about the things around you in new ways.

In Aunt Giraffe's Green Garden by Jack Prelutsky - It would be impossible for me to put together any sort of poetry list without including at least one Jack Prelutsky; he is after all the Poetry Foundation's first ever Children's Poet Laureate. Aunt Giraffe was published in 2007 and is full of nonsense verse which begs to be read aloud. Mr. Prelutsky also has two new poetry books out in 2008 that you'll definitely want to check out: Pizza, Pigs and Poetry: How to Write a Poem and My Dog May be a Genius: Poems.

For more poetry books, come in to the library and see our display in the Children's Department above the children's reference collection. Also I've created a list of great poetry books in our collection which you can find here.

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