The 2015 Poetry Finalists

Flutter and Hum / Aleteo y Zumbido: Animal Poems / Poemas de Animales
by Julie Paschkis
Henry Holt
Nominated by: Linda Baie

Flutter and Hum: Aleteo Y Zumbido by Julie Paschkis, is a collection of fifteen free verse animal poems- including snake, turtle, crow, heron, parrot, dog, cat, cow, fly, whale, deer, moth, owl, fish– in both English and Spanish. The poems are accompanied by Paschkis’ vibrant folk art, with words from the poem/palabras de los poemas embedded in the illustrations.

The author’s note is particularly interesting. In this note, Paschkis explains that she is not a native Spanish speaker, and became interested in the language when she was illustrating a book about Pablo Neruda, approximately ten years ago. This sparked her interest in learning Spanish, which ultimately led to the publication of Flutter and Hum: Aleteo Y Zumbido. Paschkis says, “Somehow my unfamiliarity with Spanish freed me to write poetry. I felt like a visitor wandering through a forest of Spanish words, marveling at the beauty of sound, meaning, and syntax.” This is a book sure to delight both English and Spanish readers.

Carol Wilcox, Carol’s Corner

Full Cicada Moon
by Marilyn Hilton
Dial Books
Nominated by: MotherReader

Mimi’s appearance is what her new classmates see. They do not see Mimi. She looks different than anyone in a nearly all-white New England town. She acts different. Mimi wants to be in Shop Class, not Home Ec. The school says “no.” Mimi wants to be an astronaut. Classmates make fun of her. But Mimi refuses to let go of her dreams, her goals, and who she is, no matter how much she is teased and bullied. And then someone dares to speak up.

This historical middle-grade novel is told in verse, a lyrical and emotional journey from Mimi’s perspective over the course of one year of surviving in an unwelcoming new school and town

Nancy Bo Flood, The Pirate Tree

House Arrest
by K.A. Holt
Chronicle Books
Nominated by: Mike Jung

When Timothy is caught shoplifting, he’s under “house arrest” for a whole year, required to keep a journal, see a therapist, and check in with a probation officer. But in this compelling and honest novel in verse, we come to see he is dealing with some very difficult circumstances that center around an overworked mom, an absent father, and an infant brother who suffers from a severe, chronic and life-threatening condition: subglottic stenosis. Although based on the author’s own experiences with her own son, this is not a didactic treatment of childhood illness, rather it’s about how difficult times force us to dig deep to find the inner resources that can help us rise to the challenges we face in life. Timothy is difficult, obnoxious, totally absorbing and often hilarious. Even the adult characters are multi-dimensional with side stories of their own. Told from Timothy’s point of view, the poetry manages to convey so much information, emotion, and growing self-awareness, while giving the reader plenty of space to think, too.

Sylvia Vardell, Poetry for Children

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom!
by J. Patrick Lewis
National Geographic Children’s Books
Nominated by: bevpdx

This outstanding companion to Lewis’s 2012 collection of animal poetry, The Book of Nature Poetry includes more than 200 poems from writers both classic (Blake, Dickinson, Thoreau, Whitman) and contemporary (Hoberman, Nye, Mora, Yolen). Paired with superb and often breathtaking nature photography, readers will return to this book often to appreciate both the poems and the photographs. Organized into the categories The Wonder of Nature, In the Sky, In the Sea, On the Move, Across the Land, In Shad, In Distress, In Season, In Splendor, and Last Thoughts, the collection celebrates biodiversity and the amazing landscapes that support life on our planet. Back matter includes an essay on Mother Nature, a bibliography of children’s books on wordplay in poetry organized by poetic form, and indices of the poems by title, poet, first line, and subject.

This is a massive volume that includes something for readers of all ages, and one that will have them anxious to step outside and explore the world around them.

Tricia Stohr-Hunt, The Miss Rumphius Effect

Paper Hearts
by Meg Wiviott
Margaret K. McElderry
Nominated by: Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Based on a true events, this historical verse novel celebrates friendship in an unlikely place: the munitions factory in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Two girls separated from their families tell their stories in alternating chapters that chronicle the daily horrors, and also the small, tender triumphs that sustain them in beautiful unflinching verse that never once loses sight of hope for survival, escape, and a future filled with family and love. The book includes a historical note and actual photographs of the birthday card (now on display at Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre) that was created in secrecy and defiance, and was signed by the whole group of friends. This powerful, meaningful story for ages 12 and up will “unfold… a corner of your heart.

Irene Latham, Live Your Poem

The Popcorn Astronauts: And Other Biteable Rhymes
by Deborah Ruddell
Margaret K. McElderry
Nominated by: Bridget Wilson

Delicious. Ridiculous. Funny. Engaging. Popcorn Astronauts offers a variety of “edible” poems that are as strange and crazy as the book’s title. For example, try a shake ordered to poetic specifications: “A frosty cup of moonlight, please … As mushy as a mittenful of slightly melted snow ….” If that is a little on the chilly side, then try “Dracula’s Late-Night Bite,”especially after he “flosses his fangs and he slides out the door for dessert.” Great poems to cause both laughter and interest in young readers and examples for writing one’s own delicious verse.

Nancy Bo Flood, ReaderKidz

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (Junior Library Guild Selection)
by Joyce Sidman
HMH Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Maria Gianferrari

Did you know that bees stay active in the winter? They boil, teem, and hum to keep themselves and their queen warm and safe. Winter Bees is full of fascinating facts about plants and animals in winter. The poems offer vibrant, moving energy around words and images. Rick Allen’s illustrations take you into the midst of the snow and wind with vivid expression. From free-verse, rhyming, to original poetic forms, Joyce Sidman warms our hearts through the cold tundra. Dancing with the chickadee “From dawn to dusk in darkling air/ we glean and gulp and pluck and snare”, discovering snow fleas “A mob of us, a mass of us, a throng of us,” and wondering with the trees “Roots are deep and time is slow./ All we grasp we must let go,” Winter Bees is a treasure to hold.

Margaret Simon, Reflections on the Teche

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