2019 Finalists: Poetry

Dreams from Many Rivers: A Hispanic History of the United States Told in Poems (Amazon, IndieBound)
by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Beatriz Gutierrez Hernandez
Henry Holt
Nominated by: Katy Manck

Backed by research, good storytelling and poetic craft, these short snippets of history from 1491 until now with multiple Latinx narrators weave a powerful chronicle, poem by poem.

Anastasia Suen, #kidlit Book of the Day

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience (Amazon, IndieBound)
Edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond
Triangle Square
Nominated by: Michelle H Barnes

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond is a poetry anthology for older readers that celebrates the lives and experiences of immigrants, refugees, exiles, and their families, who have made this land a home for generations. With poets like Elizabeth Acevedo, Tarfia Faizullah, Hala Alyan, Gala Mukomolova, Bao Phi, and Ocean Vuong, from countries such as Iran, Russia, Mexico, Vietnam, Sudan, Haiti, Syria and beyond, Ink Knows No Borders creates a sense of the immigrant and refugee experience that… honors its complexity and variety.” It gives voice to the experiences of young adult first and second-generation immigrants and refugees as well as providing a historical perspective in poems by Ellen Bass, Eavan Boland, Jeff Coomer, Li-Young Lee, and others. Although each poem channels an individual experience, the collection also offers universal themes on the power of family love, the shock of war, and the isolation of relocation. The poems take us from trauma to hope and as Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera reminds us, “let me tell you what a poem brings . . . it is a way to attain a life without boundaries.”

Sylvia Vardell, PoetryforChildren

Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir (Amazon, IndieBound)
by Nikki Grimes
Nominated by: Sylvia Vardell

Nikki Grimes’ poetry sings with emotion, imagery, and phrasing in this gripping memoir of her recollections of young life. In her author’s note, Grimes delves into the challenge of writing a memoir, and the difficulty of bridging gaps that trauma has taken. At the same time any reader of Ordinary Hazards will tell you that Grimes has done just that, bridging gaps by including snippets from notebooks through the years and piecing together a life that was left in pieces by traumatic experiences at each of life’s turns. As Grimes notes in her prologue: “It’s a long story, but I’m a poet. I can cut it short.” Ordinary Hazards is a simply stunning memoir in verse that will lead readers to understanding and empathy while being dazzled by the words that make a life.

Ellen Zschunke, On the Shelf 4 Kids

Other Words for Home (Amazon, IndieBound)
by Jasmine Warga
Balzer + Bray
Nominated by: Adrienne Gillespie

What does it mean to flee your home, leaving half of your family behind? What does it mean to have a foot in two cultures, to live between two worlds? What does it mean to be Muslim and Arab in the United States in a world after 9-11? Jasmine Warga’s free verse novel explores these questions and so much more in her verse novel Other Words for Home. Jude and her pregnant mother flee Syria, leaving her father and brother behind, to live with relatives in Cincinnati. It’s a huge change for a young girl who is trying to make sense of her new world while dealing with homesickness, fear, inequality, prejudice, and middle school. Warga’s poems sing with emotion, sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful. The verse novel also includes an author’s note and glossary of Arabic terms. Written originally as prose, Other Words for Home shines as a novel in verse.

Tricia Stohr-Hunt, The Miss Rumphius Effect

SHOUT (Amazon, IndieBound)
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Viking Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

Anderson’s powerful and captivating verse novel brims with emotion, tension, and personal reflection on her own life as well as our society and culture. Upper-YA readers will be moved by the experiences she recounts through solidly-written poems that are strong enough to stand on their own, but are even more profoundly moving when gathered together here to tell her story.

Matt Esenwine, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer (Amazon, IndieBound)
by Elizabeth Steinglass, illustrated by Edson Ike
Nominated by: jhdiehl

Short, snappy poems on a kid-friendly topic are told from a child’s point of view in a variety of fun poetic forms that young readers can try themselves. The subthemes of friendship and kindness in this poetry collection apply to this popular sport played all around the globe and to everyday life.

Anastasia Suen, #kidlit Book of the Day

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems (Amazon, IndieBound)
by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Richard Jones
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Melissa Fox

Paul B. Janeczko’s final collection of poems leaves a legacy we can all adore. The poems in The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog are all How to poems but are as unique as each title suggests. From How to Build a Poem by Father Goose, Charles Ghigna, to How to Pay Attention from April Halprin Wayland, these poems inspire children to try new things, imagine new things, and experience new things. Poetry is the right word in the right place at the right time, and these poems glitter with just-right words, as in Elaine Magliaro’s How to Be a Snowflake: “Fashion yourself/ a bit of lace,/ crystalline,/ spun in space…” Common life experiences such as roasting marshmallows (“It hinges on a second, an inch…”) as well as humorous antics (“Do not jump on ancient uncles or talk to bearded bears.”),and adventures such as “Walking on Mars” by Irene Latham will make you open this book time and time again.

Margaret Simon , Reflections on the Teche