My eight year old son is home from school today: low grade fever, tummy ache. He feels too bad to go to school, but not too bad to eat like a horse and play in the backyard and talk incessantly. He had to show me all of his favorite pop-ups in this amazing book, Star Wars: A Pop-up Guide to the Galaxy. I've gifted this book many times, but only to children who are old enough to respect the pop-up genre. You know, "Flip. Look. But don't mess with it." This is probably the coolest book we own. Edmund's favorite page is the one where Luke battles Darth, and their lightsabers LIGHT UP! I like the one where Leia takes her hood off. Poetry in motion.
Speaking of poetry, our resident seventh grader has to memorize a poem for her drama club. I did not have to go to the library for this, because once upon a time, I read a really good article about poetry for children and bought every book on the recommended reading list. Turns out, I would only recommend three of their choices. Lucy loves her fancy, illustrated by Tasha Tudor, copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. (But has she actually read any of it? I suspect not.) My favorite is Robert Frost's Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening illustrated by Susan Jeffers. I keep it with our other Christmas books. It will appear during Advent, linger through the winter, and disappear around spring. Keeps it fresh and new every year.
But we found her poem in Poetry Speaks to Children, complete with audio recordings. Did you ever wonder what it's like to hear Langston Hughes recite one of his own poems? Or Roald Dahl? Or Robert Frost? Maybe it's just the English major in me, but I get worked up every time I hear the scratchy old recording of James Berry reciting his "Okay, Brown Girl, Okay." And it gets even better, because before he reads the poem, he talks about the letter he got from a girl who was teased about her skin color. It can be very moving. And good to listen to in the car. But please, don't try to listen to the whole book in one sitting. That will kill anybody's love of poetry.
Which poem did she choose? "About the Teeth of Sharks" by John Ciardi.