Poetry Studio

Poetry and Verse Novels for 2016 Archive

Poetry and Verse Novels for 2018 Archive

Poetry and Verse Novels for 2019 Archive

Poetry and Verse Novels for 2020

Poetry and Verse Novels for 2017 Archive

Alexander, Kwame (with Mary Rand Hess and Dianna Nikaido).  Animal Ark.
Photographs by Joel Sartore.  National Geographic Kids.  Gr. All ages
Longtime National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore created the Animal Ark project, a multiyear effort to photograph every species in captivity with the intent of inspiring people to care passionately about saving them. This collaboration with Newbery medalist Alexander showcases many of those photos. The animals are set against a backdrop of either black or white, which further enhances their characteristics, and are shown in the same relative size, singly or in groups. Three gatefold illustrations show more photos from the collection and elaborate on the featured animals. The poetic style of choice is haiku, and Alexander retains the language but takes advantage of freeing his words from the typical 5-7-5 pattern of syllables. A multi-colored font swirls as it changes size. In the middle of the book, a long poem, "Chorus of Creatures," reminds readers that their actions matter and to "listen to the earth." A must for any bookshelf - this book will provide hours of awe as readers pore over the photographs.

Alexander, Kwame (with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth).  Out of Wonder: Poems
Celebrating Poets.
  Illus. by Ekua Holmes.  Candlewick.  Gr. 3-8
In this unique volume that celebrates poetry and poets, three critically acclaimed poets pay tribute to 20 notable poets whose lives cross cultures and time. Ancient poets such as Rumi and Basho are honored along with Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Langston Hughes, and contemporary poets, including Maya Angelou, Billy Collins, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Mary Oliver, among others. Biographical sketches of the featured poets are appended. Holmes's vibrant layered multimedia collages fill the pages and capture the varying moods of the poems. Educators looking for material to introduce students to famous poets will welcome this book and will want to collaborate with the school librarian to find age-appropriate samples of poetry for reading aloud that illustrate the poets' styles and subject matter. This idea of homage to a favorite poet can be incorporated into writing workshops in which students write in the style and theme of poets who write primarily for young people (see list of poets on this website).

Coombs, Kate.  Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems.
Illus. by Anna Emilia Laitinen.  Sounds True.  All ages
The 14 first-person tankas in this collection introduce readers to the concept of mindfulness. Vivid word choice illuminates a variety of feelings: anger ("Sometimes I'm a cloud"); anxiety ("Thoughts flutter and dart like birds"); solitude ("…a quiet place in my head like an egg hidden in a nest."). Delicate pen and watercolor illustrations work in harmony with the poems to show how nature restores and reassures us if we take the time to observe and to listen. An author's note explains the mindfulness concept and defines the tanka poetic form. These contemplative poems encourage children to notice even the smallest details in nature. A nice collection to begin or end the school day or for moments during the day when everyone just needs to breathe.

Davies, Nicola.  Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals.  Illus. by Petr Horáček.
Candlewick.  Gr. K-5
Poetry meets science in this extraordinary collection of more than 50 animal poems. The contents are divided into sections: Big and Small, Colors and Shapes, Animal Homes, Animal Babies, and Animals in Action. At the end of each section is a double-paged spread of short facts pertinent to the subject (e.g., characteristics of animal groups, functions of spots and stripes, parasites, eggs, and how animals use tools.) The poems are a mix of rhymed poetry and free verse with lovely visual imagery, as in "Monarch Butterflies" - "Like autumn leaves played backward,/they fly up onto the twigs,/clothing, covering, the trees/in a thick coat of living flame/that shimmers as a shiver passes/from wing to wing to wing." Layered collages rendered in a variety of media fill the pages of this oversized volume with vibrant color and details about the animals' appearance and habitat. This book is an excellent example of how poetry can provide information and supplement science curriculum. Students who enjoy reading about the natural world (animals in particular) will spend hours poring over the pages.

Derby, Sally.  A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices.  Illus. by Mika Song.
Charlesbridge.  Gr. K-5
Who doesn't worry about starting a new school year? In a series of 24 free verse poems, six children - Ethan, Zach, Katie, Jackie, Carlos, and Mia - representing kindergarten through fifth grade, get ready for the first day of school. The children are diverse in their cultures and backgrounds, yet their worries are universal - new teachers, making mistakes, finding new friends, fitting in. The poems are divided into four sections: "The Night Before," "In the Morning," "At School," and "After School." There is one poem in each child's voice in every section, giving readers a glimpse of their experiences on that first day. Muted watercolor and ink cartoon-like illustrations portray the emotions of the children effectively. As it is with most children, the first day of school turns out better than they expected. This collection might inspire students to write about their own first day anxieties.

Engle, Margarita.  All the Way to Havana.  Illus. by Mike Curato.
Henry Holt.  Gr. K-3
In this lively prose poem, a boy and his parents take a road trip to visit a new baby cousin in honor of his zero-year birthday. Their antiquated vehicle, known as "Cara Cara," has undergone many makeshift repairs in the past, and its strange noises indicate that additional work is needed before they leave home. They finally figure out the problem and are on the road, passing farms, beaches, and forests, and managing to pick up a carload of other travelers on their way to Havana. The city is filled with old cars and friendly people. Colorful illustrations with nearly photographic detail reflect its vitality. Readers will enjoy the extensive use of onomatopoeia in Cara Cara's noises. Automobile enthusiasts will want to pore over the drawings of old cars on the endpapers. Both of the appended author's and illustrator's notes illuminate the creation of the book. Their complementary efforts have resulted in a fine introduction to the beauty and culture of Cuba.

Engle, Margarita.  Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics.  Illus. by Rafael López.
Henry Holt.  Gr. 4-7
Engle introduces 18 Latinos from different countries of origin in this collection of free verse biographical poems. Some of the subjects are better known - Roberto Clemente, César Chávez, Tito Puente, Pura Belpré, Tomás Rivera - than others. All give first-person passionate expressions of their experiences, beliefs, and dreams. Each individual is presented in a double-paged spread with a stunning illustrated portrait rendered in a variety of media. A concluding poem mentions many more outstanding Latinos who have made their dreams come true. Additional facts are appended with just enough information to inspire student research. This book is a valuable introduction to Latinos who have left marks of historical significance in the United States.

Engle, Margarita.  Forest World.  Atheneum.  Gr. 5-8
Edver is not happy about spending the summer in Cuba with his father, a rain forest ecologist, whom he barely knows. To complicate matters further, he is surprised to learn that he has a sister, Luza, who is one year older and was left in Cuba by their mother when she moved to the United States to pursue her career as a cryptozoologist. They are wary of each other…he has grown up in a world of smartphones, online games, and skateboards; whereas, having sufficient food to eat can been a challenge for her. Edver has a strong interest in science; Luza is artistic and creative. They are both very competitive. They come together to hatch a plan via the internet intended to lure their mother to Cuba, but they instead attract the attention of a "Human Vacuum Cleaner" who collects endangered species and sells them to the highest bidder. The resolution to this problem takes place a bit quickly at the end, but the family dynamic is more realistic and left unresolved. This novel in verse is told in the alternating voices of Edver and Luza. The confusion about their family situation and their deep respect and concern for the ecosystems of the rain forest are reflected in the poignant poems. A glossary of biodiversity terms is appended. The book provides an introduction to life in modern Cuba and a glimpse into the extraordinary world of the rain forest.

Frost, Helen.  Wake Up!  Photos by Rick Lieder.  Candlewick.  Gr. K-3
In another stunning collaboration, Frost and Lieder invite young readers to explore their world and see what nature has to offer. As in their three previous books - Step Gently Out (2012), Sweep Up the Sun (2015), and Among a Thousand Fireflies (2016) - a thought-provoking poem accompanies exquisite full-page photographs. This time, they ask, "What's new?" and feature a variety of insects, birds, amphibians, and mammals as they "wake up" for the first time. Lieder must be the most patient of photographers as he waits for just the right light to fall on his subjects. The photo showing the shadow of a Chinese praying mantis against a peony petal is jaw-dropping! At the end of the book is a catalog of thumbnail photographs identifying each animal and offering a bit of information. Children (and adults) will be mesmerized and, hopefully, head out the door with a notepad and a camera.

Frost, Helen.  When My Sister Started Kissing.  Margaret Ferguson/Farrar Straus Giroux.
Gr. 5-7
Claire and her older sister Abigail have always been part of a close family with their single parent father since the accidental death of their mother when they were both very young. Every summer, they look forward to spending a month at a lake cabin, a place connected to their mother, even though that is where she died. This year, however, they have a new stepmother and a sibling on the way. To make matters worse for Claire (in whose voice most of the poems are told), Abi, now 13, has discovered boys and with new clothes, hairstyle, and makeup, she begins to accept their stepmother. As in her other verse novels, Frost tells a seamless story using the viewpoints of both girls as they deal with an evolving family dynamic as well as navigate their changing relationship. Different poetic forms represent the two main characters - Claire, mostly quatrains; Abi; free verse. Even the lake has a voice in selected poems. The lake poems are acrostics with the first letter of each line spelling out a quotation from a famous poem. (Frost identifies these poems at the back of the book.) This is a heartwarming story of a family coming together, with which many readers of blended families will identify.

Green, Shari.  Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess.  Pajama Press.  Gr. 4-6
Macy, a deaf sixth grader mainstreamed in school with an interpreter, has challenges ahead: her mother is getting married to a man with six-year-old twin daughters; they are leaving the home (and garden) that she loves; she has a serious argument with her best friend and fears she will lose her, and her teacher has assigned a genealogy project (Macy has very few people in her "family tree"). When her mother asks her to help Iris, their elderly neighbor, pack her enormous collection of books in preparation for moving to assisted living, Macy is less than thrilled. But then she gets to know Iris (whose name means "rainbow goddess"). They communicate in writing (Iris doesn't sign)...and cookies, and Macy realizes that everyone gets angry at times, makes mistakes, and misjudges people. She ultimately pulls all the threads of her life together in her genealogy project. In free verse format, Green tells a poignant story peopled with well-developed characters, both primary and secondary. Iris's written comments to Macy are filled with illuminating poetic sentiments. This heartfelt story will resonate with readers.

Grimes, Nikki.  One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance.
Illus. by 15 artists.  Bloomsbury.  Gr. 6 & above
Evocative illustrations by 15 different African American artists reflect a variety of styles and media. The preface of the book is a personal note by Nikki Grimes about her evolution as a poet, followed by an overview of the Harlem Renaissance. In an Author's Note, she explains how the poets represented in this collection inspire and provide "reason to hope and to dig deep for the strength hidden inside of us." She also describes how to write in the poetry form she used in this collection - "Golden Shovel," which utilizes words from an existing poem at the ends of the lines in a new poem. Grimes takes themes (e.g., identity, racial inequality) by poets such as Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and others, and crafts poems of hope and resilience that speak to today's readers. Each of Grimes's poems is accompanied by the poem that inspired it and an illustration. Appended material includes short biographies of the poets with selected works and thumbnail portraits, biographical sketches of the artists, sources, and a detailed index. Students might want to try writing poetry in the Golden Shovel form, though Grimes admits it is challenging.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett (Ed.).  Traveling the Blue Road: Poems of the Sea.  Illus. by Bob Hansman & Jovan Hansman.  Seagrass Press.  Gr. 4-8
Fourteen poems related to historical and contemporary sea voyages make up this unique collection. The book's Forward, a poem by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, evokes the hold of the sea over those who have "traveled away from,/traveled toward." Grouped by century, the subjects range from Columbus's voyage through the sailing of the Mayflower, the Middle Passage, the Titanic, and into present day with the plight of refugees trying to reach new lands. The descriptions of the journeys are vivid with realistic details that are unsettling, yet the travelers' courage, hope, and faith emerge in the haunting lines. A "Who's Who" of young people's poets have contributed to the work, including Margarita Engle, Georgia Heard, Paul Janeczko, J. Patrick Lewis, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, and others. The father-son team of illustrators blended archival images with a variety of media to create art that reflects the emotion of the poems. Back matter provides historical information about the voyages, bios of the poets, and notes about the art including the choice of type for the poems. Absorbing and thought-provoking, this collection will leave readers wanting to know more.

Keats, John.  A Song About Myself.  Illus. by Chris Raschka.  Candlewick.  Gr. 2 & above
About 200 years ago, poet John Keats left his London home to wander the hills of Scotland. He wrote a letter to his sister, Fanny, that included a poem about a naughty boy who packed a knapsack of necessities (including a "Book full of vowels") and left home "To the North, To the North, And follow'd his nose to the North." In three numbered verses, he travels, writes poetry and wonders about people and places. Raschka's whimsical watercolor illustrations match the carefree nature of the poem. Playful endpapers show New York City and islands along the coast of Scotland separated by "Much Water." A concluding note provides a bit of biographical information about Keats. The lilting quality of the poem makes it fun for reading aloud, and the tale is sure to inspire imagination.

Lawson, JonArno.  Leap!  Illus. by Josée Bisaillon.  Kids Can Press.  Gr. Pre-3
It all started with a flea whose restlessness led him to leap into the path of a grasshopper and touch off a chain reaction that includes a bunny, dog, pond fish, a bullfrog, and a horse. There is a LEAP! at the turn of most pages as the story circles back to the dog and finally the flea where the two of them get some much-needed sleep. The rhythm of the text is lively, and scansion is smooth, making the book a terrific read-aloud. Vivid word choice (especially the strong verbs) extends the age range of the book beyond a bouncy younger listening audience to writing lesson examples for a bit older student. Colorful watercolor-based mixed media illustrations include physical details of the animals, create a sunny setting for the story, and add humor overall. This playful presentation will have readers begging, "Read it again!"

Lewis, J. Patrick.  Keep a Pocket in Your Poem: Classic Poems and Playful Parodies.
Illus. by Johanna Wright.  Boyds Mills/Wordsong.  Gr. 3-6
Former Children's Poet Laureate Lewis has taken 13 classic poems and created clever parodies. Most of them are humorous - Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is paired with "Stopping by Fridge on a Hungry Evening." Others are lovely - "Winter Sweetness" by Langston Hughes and Lewis's "Winter Warmth" - or contemplative - David McCord's "This Is My Rock" is partnered with "This Is My Tree." The poems are placed on facing pages, and all of them are faithful to the cadence of the original poem. Brightly colored acrylic and ink on canvas paintings feature a multicultural cast of characters in illustrations that add to the whimsy of the selections. In his introduction, Lewis explains his intention in writing a "parroty" and suggests that readers pick a favorite poem and try it themselves. Such advice requires considerable familiarity with the originals, and students may well want to try this. This collection is a great introduction to a few classic poems and poets that young people need to know.

Magliaro, Elaine.  Things To Do.  Illus. by Catia Chien.  Chronicle.  Gr. K-3
A little girl and her dog companion share the wonders of a day from dawn until the moon shines in this collection of poetic to-do lists. She imagines "things to do" if you are the sky, a honeybee, an acorn, birds, rain, a snail, even an eraser, and more, all within a child's view of the world. The text is rhymed with extensive use of alliteration, though the rhythm of the lines varies in some of the poems. The vocabulary is luscious, particularly the verbs, and the variation of the font in size, style, and color corresponds to the subjects of the poems. Colorful full-bleed acrylic illustrations have a fuzzy, dreamy quality and utilize multiple perspectives from long-distance and birds-eye views to dramatic close-ups (the orb spider illustration is sure to elicit gasps from readers). Perfect for reading aloud, this book may inspire students to create their own "to-do" poems.

Murray, Carol.  Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs.  Illus. by Melissa Sweet.
Henry Holt.  Gr. 1-5
Just about any generic insect that students can name is featured in this collection of 29 lively poems. The selections are primarily rhymed with aspects of the insect's appearance or behavior imbedded in the text. Each poem is accompanied by a fact box. Melissa Sweet's magnificent watercolor and mixed media collage illustrations have touches of humor and offer readers many small details to examine. Additional facts about each of the insects may be found in the "Cricket Notes" at the back of the book. Sure to inspire curiosity and hone readers' observation skills, this book is a great choice for reading aloud and ideal for a science unit on insects.

Perkins, Useni Eugene.  Hey Black Child.  Illus. by Bryan Collier.  Little, Brown.  Gr. Pre-3
Price originally wrote this empowering poem as the closing song in "Black Fairy and Other Plays," a children's musical about a child who doesn't see himself reaching his potential. Collier expands the interpretation to include many children, boys and girls, who have different aspirations in life. The illustrations pair children with visions of how they see themselves in future careers, set against various backdrops from African American history. Readers will enjoy poring over the fine details in the watercolor and photographic collages. Circle (most often balloons) and sunbeam motifs tie the illustrations together page by page. An appended Author's Note provides information about the poem and Price's motivation for writing it. Collier also offers comments on his decisions about the illustrations. Ask students about their dreams after reading this inspirational poem aloud. A good choice for choral reading.

Powell, Patricia Hruby.  Loving vs Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark
Civil Rights Case.
  Illus. by Shadra Strickland.  Chronicle.  Gr. 7 & above
In verse novel format, the author documents the lives of Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter from their early years to the successful resolution of the Supreme Court verdict that changed the lives of interracial couples. Mildred is described as a descendent of "African slaves;" Richard was white. They fell in love, had babies, married, and wanted to make a home for their family. However, it was against the law in Virginia for a mixed-race couple to marry, so they were arrested...many times. Told in alternating voices and supplemented with archival photos, news clippings, quotations, and other primary source materials, this well-researched book is compelling and poignant. A timeline of events and a summary of the Lovings' lives after the verdict are included. A must for library collections in the area of civil rights.

Salas, Laura Purdie.  If You Were the Moon.  Illus. by Jaime Kim.  Millbrook.  Gr. K-3
In this blend of poetry and science, the moon enlightens a little girl about its role in the cosmos after the child wishes she could be like the moon and do "nothing." The lyrical text provides the moon's playful responses, and corresponding bits of informational text offer scientific explanations. For example, the moon "challenges[s] the ocean to a tug-of-war" is paired with a description of how gravity of the moon and Earth affect each other. Other topics include the light of the moon (reflected from the sun) and waxing and waning moons. The text and illustrations explore additional ways the moon is a part of life on Earth, including the activities of nocturnal animals, the influence of the moon in cultural celebrations, and even Emily Dickinson's interest in the moon. An appended glossary adds to the potential of including this child-like expression of wonder in the primary level science curriculum.

Schaub, Michelle.  Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers' Market.  Illus. by Amy
Huntington.  Charlesbridge.  Gr. 1-5
The Farmer's Market is a-buzz in this collection of 18 cheerful and delectable mostly rhyming poems. The sun comes up on a family gathering their produce to take to the market. There, they join others setting up their wares, which, like most farmer's markets, include more than garden produce. The poems are rich in sensory detail, as the children experience the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds of the various booths. At the end of the book, Schaub offers some "Fresh-picked Reasons to Spend a Day at the Market," including comments that farmers' market items are fresher, may offer unique varieties of fruits and vegetables to try, and utilize fewer resources to make produce available to the public. The watercolor, graphite, and ink illustrations are detailed and often humorous (the dogs are definitely enjoying themselves!). Readers who have never been to a farmers' market will want to sample some of the delicious fare, and those who are familiar with these events will have experiences to share.

Sidman, Joyce.  Round.  Illus. by Taeeun Yoo.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Gr. Pre-2
The ordinary becomes magical in this lyrical celebration of "round." "I love round things" begins the exploration of a little girl from objects that are naturally round (e.g., oranges, seeds, eggs) to things that grow into roundness (mushrooms, blueberries) to things that are not round to begin with but are rounded over time (rocks). She and an older character (presumably, father) examine nature for the round that is easy to see and the round that requires searching. Not all roundness is in the natural world, as she is part of a circle of friends and makes herself into a cozy ball, curled up with a book. "I love round things" ends the story with a hug. The mixed media illustrations are soft and filled with details. Back matter addresses the question, "Why are so many things in nature round?" The answers offer simple scientific explanations. A lovely book that encourages close observation and reflection.

Singer, Marilyn.  Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing.
Illus. by Kristi Valiant.  Dial.  Gr. All ages
Following two of Singer's "mirror" poems (Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems) about the joy of dancing, 15 dances from around the world are introduced in poetic forms whose cadence match the beat of the dance. Some will be familiar to younger readers—waltz, conga, square dance, cha cha; others, less so - merengue, bhangra. Meant for reading aloud, these poems make it impossible to sit still! Brightly colored Photoshop illustrations that reflect race and age diversity radiate with energy and movement. Back matter includes notes about the individual dances, including country of origin, when it is usually performed, and the basic rhythmic pattern. A CD of the author reading the poems set to music appropriate for each dance is included. Students are going to want to learn some of these dances. This book provides an opportunity to collaborate with the physical education teacher in a dance unit or to invite a dancer/dance instructor as a visiting artist.

Smith, Hope Anita.  My Daddy Rules the World: Poems about Dads.  Henry Holt.
Gr. Pre-3
Fifteen poems celebrate the small moment roles that fathers play in the lives of their children. In mostly rhyming text, dads show their love playing catch, fixing breakfast, wrestling, cutting hair, dancing, reading books, and more. The poems also capture the realism of a snoring dad taking a nap and the repercussions of misbehaving. One poem is a touching salute to a dad away in the military. Torn paper collage illustrations depict the characters without facial features and reflect diversity in skin tone and hair color and show dads interacting with both boys and girls. The collection is a heartwarming tribute to fathers - if only every child could have a father like these.

VanDerwater, Amy Ludwig.  Read! Read! Read!  Illus. by Ryan O'Rourke.  Wordsong/Boyds Mills.  Gr. K-3
There are other books of poetry that celebrate the pleasures of reading, but VanDerwater takes the message a bit further by reminding children that reading is included in nearly every aspect of their lives. From the opening poem about what reading is to the poem on the back cover about being in love with poetry, the 21 poems in between have readers poring over maps, cereal boxes, the newspaper, the internet, field guides, greeting cards, magazines, and more. Poems also tell us we read to have adventures, get information, and share stories and memorable experiences with family. Different rhyme schemes along with free verse make up the highly relatable text. Vividly colored cartoon-like illustrations complement the poems and show that reading is for everyone. Meant for reading aloud, this volume is an invitation for readers to discuss their own reading lives.

Wissinger, Tamera Will.  Gone Camping.  Illus. by Matthew Cordell.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Gr. 2-5
In this companion to Gone Fishing (2013), Sam and Lucy are helping gather provisions for a family camping trip when the worst possible thing (they think) happens...Dad becomes ill and Mom decides she can't leave him…and Grandpa is going in their place. Has he ever even camped or fished or canoed? No matter. They are off on an adventure that includes setting up camp, building a bonfire, beanie weenie barbecue, s'mores, night noises (including a snoring grandpa), and some fabulous fishing. Black-and-white cartoon-like illustrations add to the fun. The entire story is told in an array of poems in different voices (mostly Lucy and Sam). Extensive back matter includes "Provisioning for Poetry," which explains the use of rhyme and rhythm in poetry; "Poetry Techniques," which discusses features of poetry, such as alliteration, simile and metaphor, onomatopoeia, personification, and more; and "Poetic Forms and Stanza Patterns, which describes 44 different forms of poetry that appear in the text. Great for reading aloud, the book invites readers to share their own experiences with camping.

Yolen, Jane.  Thunder Underground.  Illus. by Josée Masse.  Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
Gr. 1-5
The first poem in this unique collection invites readers to explore "UNDER…ground" in its varied forms: under a house; beneath the soil among germinating seeds and roots in the company of insects, earthworms, and moles; under the city; beneath the earth seeking fossils, ancient ruins, and buried treasure, and the subterranean forces that form caves, volcanoes, and earthquakes. The final poem suggests that this world so often unseen is now "UNDER…stood." The 21 poems include several different types of poetry, rhymed and unrhymed, and utilize science vocabulary appropriate to the topics. Colorful full-page mixed media illustrations feature a boy and a girl (and a baby rabbit they picked up along the way) using their bag of tools to explore underground worlds, both realistic and imaginative. "Notes on the Poems," described by Yolen as "both scientific and personal," make up the back matter. A good choice for reading aloud in science class, this collection inspires curiosity that will likely lead students to additional sources of information.

Yolen, Jane and Lewis, J. Patrick.  Last Laughs: Prehistoric Epitaphs.  Illus. by Jeffery Timmins.  Charlesbridge.  Gr. 2-5
Yolen and Lewis have followed Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs (2012) with a look at the last gasps of 19 dinosaurs (not all of them are among the most familiar). A cartoon-like, bearded, paleontologist guides readers through this collection of rhymed poems organized by the period in which they lived. The poems are playful and punny ("Woolly mammoth in a muddle,/feet sunk deep in tarry puddle./Needed pulley, not invented./Woolly now wholly lamented."), though generally too long to be written on a tombstone. Each poem is accompanied by a factual tidbit that includes information about size, distinguishing physical characteristics, diet, or habitat. A statement about layers of fossils and an illustration of dinosaurs in their respective eras rounds out the book. Photoshopped illustrations humorously depict each dino meeting its demise. This collection is sure to appeal to those readers with extensive knowledge of dinosaurs who might want to try writing their own dinosaur epitaphs (as the final poem recommends along with advice for exploring a dig). Include this book in a science unit on dinosaurs.

Page last updated 01/20/20

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