Poetry Books

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Favorite Poems Old and New selected by Helen Ferris

A thick volume of poems for children that is sure to contain many old favourites, plus introduce some new friends. The word “wholesome” comes to mind.

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The Children’s Book of Virtues edited by William J. Bennet

This large (not thick) richly illustrated picture book contains about 20 short stories and 10 well-chosen poems.

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Leaves from a Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

With illustrations by Donna Green

Stevenson’s poems are almost a must as a first introduction to poetry for kids. There aren’t many full colour illustrated copies of his work available, that I know of, and so I appreciate these illustrations by Donna Green.

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The Random House Book of Poetry for Children: A treasure of 572 Poems for Today’s Child  selected by Jack Prelutsky

Mostly humorous poems, but some gems hidden in between. Kids will laugh and learn to love the rhythm and rhyme of poetry through some of these pieces. The illustrations are aptly silly.

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A Child’s Book of Poems  by Gyo Fujikawa

For those who find the book above a disgrace to all serious poetry, here is an alternative. About half as thick, this picture book is full of gems with a few humourous poems hidden in between. The illustrations are simple in colour and line.

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The Ideals Treasure of Best Loved Poems

Contains many classic favourites for teens and adults; is fully illustrated throughout with photographs from nature.  A good variety of well-known poems.

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Poems for Children: A Delightful Collection for Boys and Girls

A slimmer picture book, illustrated in an old-fashioned style that matches the tone of these old classics for children. This volume has fewer (if any besides R.L. Stevenson) modern poets than the others.

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When We Were Very Young

And Now We are Six

Or compiled in one volume as The World of Christopher Robin

By A.A. Milne

Very true to the style of the original Winnie-the-Pooh books. These poems are a light and over-all fun read if you enjoy that whimsical ho-hum what am I thinking of train of thought…  A thick volume with line illustrations on each page.

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The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies

By Cicely Mary Barker

A volume that contains the flowers of each season, then the flowers of the garden, trees, and wayside, and lastly the flower alphabet. Each page introduces another flower or two.

With children dressed up with wings on each picture, this is an odd place to turn for nature study, one would think, but Cicely Barker’s beautiful paintings have realistic flowers that are accompanied by just as realistic poems that tell one or two striking characteristics for each flower.

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Out and About: A First Book of Poems

By Shirley Hughes

I was a little disappointed in this thin picturebook. The pictures and topics are very suitable for kids, but although I know poems don’t need to rhyme or have rhythm, I did miss it throughout, and I think kids would too.

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Winter Poems

Selected by Barabara Rogasky

I loved this book for the beautiful watercolour scenes that gave such a rich background to the winter season.  This book is intended for teens, however, I find, with more difficult language and the theme of death in one poem. Not as satisfying as some poetry collections, since for every classic favourite author, there were a few more stilted poems in between (personal opinion!)

 

Little Night Cat

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By Sonja Danowski

This author does something amazing with her illustrations, pencilling and painting a warm, wonderful world, with houses overflowing in creative activity.

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Tony gives up his stuffed animals for the animal shelter cause, then misses his animals, but in the end gets a real live cat. A warm simple story, although the animal shelter raffle and prizes does take place on a Sunday.

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Also by Sonja Danowski: The Forever Flowers.   The story-line again is quite simple, although the lesson is not as clear (about letting go), but may open the  door for a discussion.

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Ages 4-8

Available from public libraries

Reviewer: Doreen

One Was Johnny: A Counting Book

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By Maurice Sendak

For those kids struggling to read but bored with the careful Reading Level books…

This simple, grade 1-ish level, counting book adds some adventure to the predictable Clifford and Biscuit books, by way of humorous pictures and events. Definite boy-appeal, although my daughter laughed at it too.

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Available from public libraries

Ages 4-7

Reviewer: Doreen

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The Night Gardener

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by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

(not to be confused with a book of the same title by Jonathan Auxier)

When William awakes, someone has transformed the shrubs and trees into animal-shaped works of art. One night William follows the night gardener and ends up helping him with his work.

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Beautiful illustrations and a lovely story. Highly recommended.

Ages 3-9

Reviewed by Esther

Available from public libraries

Bunny’s First Spring

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by Sally Lloyd-Jones

A little bunny watches as the seasons change, and gets worried when everything seems to disappear and die in the winter. Continue reading to witness his joy at the return of spring. Great illustrations.

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Recommended

Ages 0-5

Reviewed by Esther

Available from public libraries.

Houndsley and Catina

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by James Howe

The stories about this cat and dog centre around the homes of two friends who work at friendship, for a friendship with two different characters will always have a few kinks. How do you deal with a friend who wants to be a writer but writes horribly? Or who won’t stop talking when you’re trying to enjoy nature on a canoe ride? What about a snowy day lacking in excitement? These books offer gentle solutions that celebrate enjoying the simple things in life. Each book has a few chapters with a satisfying ending to the book.

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The illustrations in this series use a casual-looking watercolour style, but are beautifully done. You can see the thought and planning that went into each picture, and I love how the artist adds to each friend’s character simply by how she depicts their homes and clothing—did you notice Catina’s love for enormous, ornately patterned skirts and dresses? And Houndsley’s distinctive British air?

Other titles in the series:

Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time

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Houndsley and Catina: Plink and Plunk

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Houndsley and Catina and the Birthday Surprise

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Not officially Easy Readers, but could be used as such, (probably a Level 3), since they are published in that format with short chapters.

Ages 4-8

Available from public libraries

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

 

 

The Nutcracker

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By Susan Jeffers

If the magical Nutcracker fairytale reads like a dream, that’s probably because it is! The picturebook story tells the dream that follows the receiving of a Nutcracker as a Christmas gift.

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Is this book for you? Well, if the music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker thrills your heart, or you just can’t resist the twirling snowflakes in a land of lollipops; if a look at a real Victorian Christmas makes you smile or you want to at least familiarize your kids with The Nutcracker Story, then, yes, this is a picturebook for you.

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Author/illustrator Susan Jeffers wanted to retell the story of the Nutcracker in a version short enough for young listeners and to include pieces of the ballet in her illustrations, which she does. The artwork is truly Victorian from outside architecture to house décor to clothing fashion, and the ballerinas in the Land of Sweets are presented prettily, suiting a little girl’s dream of what a flower fairy should look like.

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Ages 4-7

Available from public libraries

Reviewer: Doreen

The Awakening of Miss Prim

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By Natalia Fenollera

There is just too much that you could talk about with this book, so much so that you can find numerous reviews on various aspects of the book, both negative and positive.  The downside to this book is that although the book is primarily about a Christian religious awakening, a few characters flippantly mention hell or God. The upside to this book is the refreshing look at our modern-day culture and society’s expectations, through fresh eyes.

As for the whole notion of classical education, home education with a community’s involvement, a utopian society where people farm and produce their own goods and engage in debates and discussion on heady matters…such as whether Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott truly deserve a place among the classics, whether serving the living God changes a person so drastically that he can no longer marry a person who doesn’t believe, whether God can be found by skeptics who are open to finding the Truth—this and more I will leave the reader of Miss Prim to ponder for themselves…

I don’t particularly love the writing style, but there are so many quotes that made me think, such as Lulu Thiberville’s comment that: “Young people today extend childhood well beyond the chronologically allotted time. They’re immature and irresponsible at an age when they should no longer be so. But at the same time they lose their simplicity, their innocence and freshness early. Strange as it sounds, they grow old early.”

Adult fiction

Available from public libraries

Reviewer: Doreen

 

The Snail and the Whale

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By Julia Donaldson

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I really loved this book :). It’s a board book but not just for babies. Toddlers and preschoolers and early elementary will enjoy: “This is a tale of a tiny snail…this is the whale who came one night…” With a real adventure and rescue, rhythmic language, and well-done illustrations (although they are a little spoiled by the comic-strip eyeballs), it is sure to be enjoyed a few times over. Includes an audio version with background music, that is wonderfully read.

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A long picture board book, with audio CD

Ages 3-8

Available from public libraries

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Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

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Fire Engine No. 9

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By Mike Austin

A brief dramatic telling of fire engine no. 9’s call and response to a fire, with lots of smoke and one word exclamations on each page, and the rescue of a baby from a burning building. Preschoolers will thrill to the story and older kids will benefit from the “What to do during a home fire,” on the last page.

Picturebook

Ages 2-6 + older kids for the last page

Available from public libraries

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen