"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Poetry in YA Lit a rare treat

This year six YA titles being considered for the coveted Printz Award are either completely written in verse or have wonderful samples of original poetry within their pages. Add a poem to a page and I practically swoon, so you can imagine how hard it is for me to pick a favorite with six from which to choose. All six of these books have especially good poetry, too.

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatramen
Storyline: A teen dancer in India has an accident and loses a leg. She figures out how to dance again when she takes to focus off herself and focuses on Dance itself. A beautiful story of triumph, culture, and religion. Written completely in verse.
Poetry sample:
She is the edge of a spinning circle.
She is the stillness at its center.
She is light as a petal rising in a spiraling breeze.
She is a petal dissolving into flower-dust.

On the stage,
there is no dancer.
there us only dance.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Storyline: a memoir of Woodson's formative years during the 1960s with the Civil Rights movement in full swing. Written completely in verse.
Poetry Sample:
I am born as the South explodes,
Too many people too many years
enslaved, then emancipated
but not free, the people
who look like me
keep fighting
and marching
and getting killed
so that today---
Feb. 12, 1963
and every day from this moment on,
brown children like me can grow up
free. Can grow up
learning and voting and walking and riding
wherever we want.

Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Storyline: twin boys on their middle school basketball team end up at odds because of a girl. It is a story of basketball, friends, and family. Written in verse, many are concrete poems.
Poetry sample:
Not even close, JB.
What’s the matter?
The hoop too high for you? I snicker
But it is not funny to him,
especially when I take off from center court
My hair like wings,
each lock lifting me higher and HIGHER
Like a 747 ZOOM ZOOM!

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
Storyline: Selwyn Academy is now home to a reality TV show and the students are vying for positions on the cast. A group of students want their school back and attempt to sabotage things by publishing a long poem in the style of the Ezra Pound poem they were studying in their English class. The book is written in prose with the long poem called the Contracontos broken into stanzas as chapter headings.
Poetry sample:
O Selwynfolk! In days of old,
Ideals were high and art was bold.
In that primeval solitude,
We sketched and sang, our crafts pursued,
But now, we watch TV. We’re screwed!

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
Storyline: A Latina teenager faces many challenges during her senior year including changes at home with her family and parents, friendship issues and challenges, grief issues over several deaths. Gabi finds solace and strength in recording her thoughts in poems and sharing these poems with others. Written in prose interspersed by samples of Gabi's poems.
Poetry sample:
An occurrence
occupies a space
between thoughts
lies prostrate professing something
strange gurgle underground
in a wasteland
of waiting
twiddling thumbs
twiddle dee twiddle dee
and tapping fingers
tappity tappity tappity
waiting for his collapse

But you don't know my dad.

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson
Storyline: About Marilyn's own childhood from ages four to fourteen in America during the 1950s. The poems touch on racism, The Red Scare, the atom bomb, and the feminist movement. All poems in the unrhymed sonnet style
Poetry sample:
How I Discovered Poetry

It was like soul-kissing, the way the words
filled my mouth as Mrs. Purdy read from her desk.
All the other kids zoned an hour ahead to 3:15,
but Mrs. Purdy and I wandered lonely as clouds borne
by a breeze off Mount Parnassus. She must have seen
the darkest eyes in the room brim: The next day
she gave me a poem she’d chosen especially for me
to read to the all except for me white class.
She smiled when she told me to read it, smiled harder,
said oh yes I could. She smiled harder and harder
until I stood and opened my mouth to banjo playing
darkies, pickaninnies, disses and dats. When I finished
my classmates stared at the floor. We walked silent
to the buses, awed by the power of words.

All of the books are remarkable and the poetry divine. I recommend them all to you.

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