#Cybils2022 Poetry/Novels in Verse


At the Pond
David Elliott, illustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Lisa Rogers

David Elliott adds a celebration of pond life to his collection of charming animal poetry in At The Pond. Following the arc of a day from morning to night, readers meet a variety of pond flora and fauna, ranging from the “delicate, diaphanous, dazzling” dragonfly, to the majestic heron. The word choices are often clever, with words hiding dual meanings. The untitled poems are a linguistic treat, filled with alliteration, assonance, internal rhyme, and vocabulary that will challenge some readers. Accompanied by enchanting mixed-media illustrations, this is a collection that will engage readers of all ages. – Tricia Stohr-Hunt, The Miss Rumphius Effect

Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech
Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek, illustrated by Richard Jones
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Sondra Eklund

Although this book is marketed by the publisher as a collection of poems celebrating unusual connections and imagery through the use of metaphor and simile, it is, in fact, a collection of fun, beautiful, and brilliant poetry that needs no thematic thread to pull the poems together. At once playful and thought-provoking, these poems show how simple, easy-to-access language can be used to spur a reader’s imagination and transport them to a new, surprising view of the world around them. – Matt Esenwine, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too.: Our Story. Our Way.
Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Nominated by: Kristen

This is so much more than simply a collection of poetry. This multimedia work of art with its graffiti-type paintings, ever-changing fonts, pages turned sideways and flip flopped immediately takes the reader through an authentic sensory experience. The exceptional poems are simultaneously intimately personal yet completely accessible – thoughtful, poignant, humourous while all sharing the struggles the two Jasons (Reynolds and Griffin) went through to become the successful artists and friends they are today. Stellar design. – Sheri Howard , Lobit Education Village Library

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water
Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith
Nominated by: Jenna

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water is a beautifully written and illustrated poetry collection that brims with emotion. Moving beyond the history of slavery to one of perseverance and hope, the poems in this collection recognize the contributions of Black Americans and place them squarely within the fabric of American history. Grandmother’s story, told in verse, reminds readers that those who were kidnapped were humans thriving in their families and communities, with cultures to be celebrated. The poems that tell this story are real, informative, emotional, and inspiring. – Tricia Stohr-Hunt, The Miss Rumphius Effect

Zoobilations!: Animal Poems and Paintings
Douglas Florian
Beach Lane Books
Nominated by: Reshama

Zoobilations: Animal Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian is a fun and zany introduction to animals like the antelope, elephant, giraffe, seagull, naked mole rat, hammerhead shark, flying fox, weasel, mandrill, centipede and millipede, and more. With playful and creative art that mimics children’s crayon drawings, Florian employs easy-to-read rhyming lines, unusual imagery, and clever, groan-worthy puns to engage young readers and listeners on each double-page spread of poem and picture. Accessible, but always delightfully slightly off-kilter, this collection is sure to be a kid-pleaser. – Sylvia Vardell , Poetry for Children

Novels in Verse


African Town
Charles Waters and Irene Latham
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Becky L.

In 1860, long after the U.S. outlawed the importation of enslaved laborers, 110 men, women, and children from Africa were captured and brought to Mobile, Alabama aboard a ship called Clotilda. African Town is the story of the lives of fourteen of these enslaved people both before their capture, during their enslavement, and after their emancipation when they formed a community, named African Town, today known as Africatown. Of the fourteen characters, each has a distinct voice, written in a specific poetic form or style allowing each their own shapes and tones in keeping with the artistic decisions the authors made, matching styles to characters. This ingenious novel is based on facts and the authors did their best to stay true to actual events. – Anne Bennett , My Head Is Full of Books

Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Charles Santoso
Feiwel & Friends
Nominated by: Heidi G.

A wonderful “first verse novel” for young readers, Katherine Applegate’s newest book tells the tale of a sea otter whose life is upended when she meets a shark – and how she deals with the tumult and uncertainty the incident brings. The book is reminiscent of Aplegate’s “The One and Only Ivan” in that it lovingly and convincingly connects the reader to the animal hero of the story with simple yet beautiful language. Written in prosaic free verse, the book is an enjoyable read for kids as well as adults and should find a home in every classroom and library. – Matt Esenwine , Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Singing with Elephants
Margarita Engle
Viking Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Gary Anderson

One of Margarita’s strongest recent books: accessible, poignant. Her poetry is beautiful – never over the head of her reader, powerful, moving, and vibrant. Every word she chose, the phrases she crafted, and her unique imagery all show why Margarita is one of the best writers in this style. This book is a fine example of her talent. “There is no better home for emotions than a poem.” Great quote and there is so much emotion in this book. It’s full of heartache and loss but also love. The story is as beautiful as the poetry. – Sheri Howard, Lobit Education Village Library

The Hope of Elephants
Amanda Rawson Hill
Nominated by: Joanne R. Fritz

“Cancer visits my dad in all the odd years of my life.” This story is heartbreaking from page 2, but so relatable as twelve-year-old Cass copes with her dad’s serious illness, her mom’s overbearing positivity, and her best friend’s support. Hill’s free verse poetry builds on Cass’s clear first-person voice and uses creative spacing for effect, along with concrete or shape poems, poems for two voices or dual points of view, italics for flashback scenes, and handwritten text for lists of pros and cons. Vivid characters, baseball metaphors, and powerful writing raise big questions about the meaning of life from an authentic child’s point of view, balancing deep sadness with true hopefulness. – Sylvia Vardell, Poetry for Children

Diana Farid, illustrated by Kris Goto
Cameron Kids
Nominated by: Melissa

Ava, a Persian-American teenager, lives to surf and loves to sing. But her mother wants her to be a doctor like herself, even though Ava faints at the side of blood. Her life seems to lift and crash down just like waves do as they near the shore. Often the verses are presented as concrete poems in the shape of waves and the comings and goings of life on the beach. Waves indeed form a theme for Ava’s life in Wave – Ava is surfing with friends — Up! Ava’s father is absent from her life — down. Ava is asked to sing a solo — Up! Ava’s mom makes her volunteer at the hospital — down. Ava meets a man at the hospital who introduces her to Rumi’s poems — ride that wave! Phoenix, her best friend and fellow surfer, seems to be interested in her — Up! Phoenix’s cancer returns — crash down. Ava wants to fix things but can’t — falling off the board. Ava finds love and acceptance after grief — climbing back up. This beautiful novel-in-verse is a moving coming-of-age story. – Anne Bennett , My Head Is Full of Books