New Books of Poetry for 2015


Brown, Calef. Hypnotize a Tiger: Poems about Just about Everything. Henry Holt. Gr. 1-5
Humorous illustrations quite nicely match the 84 nonsense poems (about all sorts of things!) in this collection. Readers will enjoy the silliness, and Brown's zany Q & A about himself at the end is an added delight.

Bulion, Leslie. Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse. Illus. by Mike Lowery. Peachtree. Gr. 3-8
Enormously useful collection of poems for health classes or as models of writing poetry. Each poem features a different body part and presents information in riddle format. Inset facts accompany each poem. Photographs and cartoon-like illustrations enhance the information. Back matter includes a glossary, notes on the poetry, and a diagram of the human body.

Engle, Margarita. Orangutanka. Illus. by Renée Kurilla. Henry Holt. Gr. K-3
A collection of linked tanka poems (an introductory note discusses this form of Japanese poetry) tells the story of an orangutan family. A young orangutan would rather dance than sleep like the rest of her family, and she is joined by a surprising companion. The colorful illustrations add humor. Orangutan facts and sources are appended.

Florian, Douglas. How to Draw a Dragon. Beach Lane. Gr. K-3
"Drag a dragon to your backyard" is the first piece of advice in this irresistible book about how to draw all of its parts and enjoy its company in the mean time. Large, colorful mixed media illustrations add to the fun. Sketches on the front endpapers show a variety of ways to draw body parts. Back endpapers show a dragon with its parts labeled. The final gatefold illustration suggests an idea for a classroom project that is a must to accompany this book.

Frost, Helen. Sweep Up the Sun. Photos by Rick Lieder. Candlewick. Gr. Pre-3
Stunning color photographs illustrate a poem featuring familiar birds in flight or in interactions with each other. Appended pages offer facts about the birds. A lovely addition to the science curriculum.

Grimes, Nikki. Poems in the Attic. Illus. by Elizabeth Zunon. Lee & Low. Gr. 2-5
While visiting her grandmother, a young girl discovers a collection of poems written by her mother as a child. The poems reflect on her life as part of a military family who moved frequently from bases in the United States and around the world. Grimes relates the story in alternating voices between the daughter (in free verse) and the mother's poems (in tanka). Warm, paint-and-collage illustrations depict a close family at home and in exotic locations. A discussion of the two poetic forms is appended.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett (Sel.). Amazing Places. Illus. by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale. Lee & Low, 2015. Gr. 2-5
Fourteen locations that reflect the culture, history, and beauty of America are featured. In addition to familiar places like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, and Denali National Park, places such as Harlem, San Francisco's Chinatown, and the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. add diversity. Other spots including the Ringling Circus Museum in Sarasota, Florida, Fenway Park, and the Texas State Fair add interest for young readers. Poems written by a "Who's Who" of children's poets make up the text. Highly detailed illustrations rendered in pencil and digitally colored enrich the content of the poems and depict the wonder of visitors to these landmarks. Information about each place is appended, and endpapers show a map with each location labeled.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett (Sel.). Jumping Off Library Shelves. Illus. by Jane Manning. Wordsong/Boyds Mills. Gr. K-4
Library users will readily identify with the experiences of the children in these 15 poems that thoroughly explore the magic of the place. In addition to the joys of reading, the poems recognize a special librarian, the power of a library card, reading with the library dog, the travel potential of the internet, and much more. A poem by Hopkins pays homage to legendary storyteller Augusta Baker. Most of the poets are well known among children's writers. The colorful gouache and pencil illustrations are filled with the energy of the joyful library patrons. A good reminder of what libraries mean to our lives.

Hughes, Langston. Sail Away. Illus. by Ashley Bryan. Atheneum, 2015. Gr. All ages
Ashley Bryan has assembled a collection of poems that traverse waters at home and abroad with Langston Hughes. It includes familiar poems, such as "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," as well as a number of lesser known works. Intricate and brightly colored cut-paper collage illustrations reflect his admiration for the poet. For Bryan, who lives in Maine near the ocean himself, this compilation is a true celebration of the sea.

Hughes, Shirley. Out and About: A First Book of Poems. Candlewick. Gr. Pre-3
A young child's view of the world during each of the four seasons is highlighted in this collection of 18 poems meant to be read aloud. Cheerful paintings that feature many chubby-cheeked children contain numerous details for young listeners to pore over. A real charmer!

Janeczko, Paul B. (Sel.). The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects. Illus. by Chris Raschka. Candlewick. Gr. All ages
Janeczko and Raschka have collaborated on three previous poetry collections, and this volume is another stellar example of their work. Fifty poems, with a common theme of "objects," are divided into time periods from "Early Middle Ages" to "Contemporary" and feature a diverse group of writers. Vibrant watercolor illustrations enhance the subject matter of the poems. This anthology is one to own.

Lewis, J. Patrick (Ed.). The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More Than 200 Poems with Photographs That Float, Zoom and Bloom! National Geographic Children's Books, 2015. Gr. All ages
The 200-plus poems in this book are a mix of classic written by famous American poets, such as Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, more contemporary poets, such as Billy Collins and Naomi Shihab Nye, as well as a number of poets who are known to write for young people. They are grouped into 10 categories, including In the Sky, In the Sea, In Shade, On the Move, In Season, and others. The turn of every page reveals eye-popping full-page photographs with the locations from all over the world, each one labeled. Readers will want to linger over this book -- a must for all collections.

Lewis, J. Patrick & Nesbitt, Kenn. Bigfoot Is Missing! Illus. by Minalima. Chronicle. Gr. 3-6
Children are fascinated by cryptids, and these two former poet laureates introduce 18 of them in this clever book. Graphic style illustrations incorporate "facts" about them into wanted posters, a newscast, signs, bottles and cans, and more. Additional information about each creature is appended. Readers will be clamoring for more!

Paschkis, Julie. Flutter & Hum/Aleteo y Zumbido: Animal Poems/Poemas de Animales. Henry Holt. Gr. 1-5
This superb collection of 14 animal poems written in English and Spanish utilizes vivid language in offering unique perspectives of the animals ("The parrot is like a flower that talks.") and their surroundings ("The moon is a lantern in the branches."). The English and Spanish versions face each other on opposite pages. Gouache paintings dazzle in colors that are rich at times and subdued when appropriate. Adding interest to the illustrations, words in both English and Spanish are written on leaves, clouds, flowers, and waves in the ocean. In her Author's Note, Paschkis explains that she is neither a poet nor a Spanish speaker. She attributes the influence of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda to writing poems first in Spanish, then in English.

Raczka, Bob. Presidential Misadventures: Poems That Poke Fun at the Man in Charge. Illus. by Dan E. Burr. Roaring Brook. Gr. 3-6
Pen-and-ink caricatures accompany poems, written in clerihew form, that poke fun at the presidents, their foibles, and their idiosyncrasies. The poems are humorous and based on research. Additional tidbits about each president are appended. This book may send readers in search of additional information.

Rosen, Michael J. The Maine Coon's Haiku: And Other Poems for Cat Lovers. Illus. by Lee White. Candlewick. Gr. 1-6
After composing haiku about birds (The Cuckoo's Haiku, 2009) and dogs (The Hound Dog's Haiku, 2011), Rosen has turned his attention to cats. He explores the playfulness, unique characteristics, and appearance of 20 different breeds. Digitally rendered illustrations place the cats in appealing settings. Appended matter provides additional information on each breed. A must for cat lovers!

Ruddell, Deborah. The Popcorn Astronauts: and Other Biteable Rhymes. Illus. by Joan Rankin. McElderry. Gr. K-5
Superb word choice and imagery (raisins that taste like "well-worn pirate socks" and peaches with "flannelpajamaty skin") accompanied by humorous watercolor paintings in delicious colors make a tasty collection of poems that are perfect for enjoying aloud.

Shields, Carol Diggory. After the Bell Rings: Poems About After-School Time. Illus. by Paul Meisel. Dial. Gr. 2-5
Colorful illustrations complement this collection of poems in which most readers are going to find themselves. From homework to chores to practice for music lessons, greetings by pets and Friday night sleepovers, after school is time to treasure. Students will enjoy reading these poems aloud to each other.

Smith, Charles R., Jr. Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World. Illus. by Shane W. Evans. Roaring Brook. Gr. 2-6
In poetry, Smith chronologically explores 28 days of African American history beginning with Crispus Attucks, a slave killed in the Boston Massacre, to the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Figures in sports, business, the arts, exploration, medicine, politics, and civil rights activism are featured. Informational notes accompany the poems. Colorful mixed media collages provide powerful images of people and places.

Wardlaw, Lee. Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku. Illus. by Eugene Yelchin. Henry Holt. Gr. K-3
As we know from an earlier book (Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku), Won Ton leads a happy life with her boy. It's still good until an unpleasant surprise arrives one day in the form of a puppy. War is on...though the playful little dog is mostly oblivious. Readers will delight in the humorous illustrations and a satisfying ending. An introductory note explains that the form of the poems is senryu and distinguishes it from its companion form, haiku.

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