Saturday, April 2, 2011

Poetry Tag Time: 30 Poems by 30 Poets, compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (2011)

PoetryTagTimeThis project, released yesterday in celebration of National Poetry Month, is unique on many levels.  It's a high-quality game of poetry tag aimed at children 0-8 years old.  It's only available as an e-book (Kindle format but readable on various other devices with Kindle apps).  And it retails for just 99 cents!

This volume follows the usual "poetry tag" premise.  The first poet offers his/her contribution and then "tags" a fellow writer, who must then produce a poem that responds in some way to the first poem...and then tags someone else.  In this case, thirty poets---all  of whom have experience writing for children---each offer a poem as well as a short explanation of how they see that poem connecting to the previous one.  A list of poets and titles is available here.   It includes a nicely balanced mix of well-known poets and newer voices, silly and more serious themes, more and less conventional forms; Jack Prelutsky, Nikki Grimes, Jane Yolen, and Pat Mora are among those featured.  Poems addressing the natural world (and I include animal poems in this category) are the most strongly represented, and they offer a sensory feast for young and old.  Indeed, while these are poems that are appealing and accessible to young children, they are so beautifully rendered and universally themed that adult readers will enjoy them at least as much as the kids.

To be perfectly honest, Miss E didn't enjoy our selections from this book as much as I did, but I think that much of the fault lies in the way that I presented them.  In my eagerness to experience the whole range of poems offered here, I  tried to read the book straight through, and that is just not an ideal approach with a preschooler, especially since this book includes so few visuals (small, well-chosen graphics introduce each poem, but it's not a picture book or even an illustrated book).  Though she very much enjoyed the first three or four poems, I should have stopped there and saved the rest for another day.  (As it turns out, the editors actual describe the book as "a poem-a-day for a month of poetry reading, sharing, and exploring," clearly a much more effective approach.)

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