Making poetry into child's play
For readers who want to know more about poetry itself, poet and teacher Paul B. Janeczko has teamed with Caldecott Honor illustrator Chris Raschka to create A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. What a fun, informative collection (and perfect to have around when it comes time to help with poetry-related homework assignments!). In his introduction, Janeczko addresses the question young writers often ask: why do some poems have to have rules, anyway? The book includes 29 different poetry forms, from haiku to quatrain, elegy to epitaph. There are also a few that I never knew: Villanelle and Clerihew! (Forgive me, but even a non-poet can't resist finding her poetic side in April.) As usual, Raschka's illustrations are bold, witty and clever. And while there's a lot of information here, the book design is deceptively simple and clean, with lots of white space setting off the poems. A separate section at the end of the book describes the forms in more detail. The poets included range from classic masters like William Blake to contemporary newcomers.
Deborah Hopkinson is a writer (though not a poet) whose newest picture book, Saving Strawberry Farm, a story set in the Great Depression, will be released in May.