From School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-Poetry is surely a many splendored thing in this richly conceived compendium of poets and ideas. Using the handsome format of A Family of Poems (Hyperion, 2005), Kennedy and Muth gather and depict a broader, more complex array of poems, inviting the enjoyment of varied readers and audiences. Kennedy's introductory comments on the value of memorizing poetry note the growing popularity of poetry recitation in festivals, slams, and other competitive events. A major emphasis throughout the book, in introductions to the topical sections and the wide-ranging choice of poems, is the deep pleasure poetry provides its readers, reciters, and writers. Some of the topics-family, school, nonsense poems, fairies, and ogres-suggest children as readers, and some poems are old childhood favorites. All of the sections have many sophisticated selections, however, and there's a section of war poems that includes Martin Niemoller's "First They Came for the Jews," along with much older pieces. Passages from The Metamorphoses and the Bible, along with "Baby Ate a Microchip" and "The Cremation of Sam McGee," are among the many choices made by Kennedy and her teenage partners from New York City schools. Muth's watercolor paintings stretch widely, too, in small sketches on white pages, broad comic scenes, and lovely views on softly washed backgrounds. The cover picture of two young children, one with fairy wings, facing a forest dotted with flashing bits of light, lends a rather false cue. Families and teachers will find enjoyable bits to share, and older children, teens, and adults will find much to savor in this fine tribute to the powers of poetry.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Bostonα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Kennedy, who has edited several poetry books, waxes eloquently on the sturdy reasons for memorizing poetry: the empowerment and confidence it can bring. But she doesn’t skimp on the sheer delight of the exercise itself. In this volume, Kennedy has collected more than 100 poems of all sizes for a wide-ranging audience, and she has divided them into chapters, which all begin with her own introductions. Included are poems about self, school, sports, games, and war, as well as nonsense poems. With thoughtfulness and occasional whimsy, Kennedy explains how and why particular poems were selected. And a fine collection it is—one that will grab the audience. Gertrude Stein tells children, “When I wish a dish / I wish a dish of ham.” Henry Van Dyke asks them to consider the ramifications of time: “New days, / New ways / Pass by! / Love stays. ” Many favorite established poets are here, but younger voices are represented, too. The breadth of the poetry is heightened by Muth’s arresting watercolors, and with his pairings, he shows an acute sense of when the images should stay small and when they should blossom into full flower, such as the pink camellia that opens the chapter on nature. A wonderful resource to get kids reading, thinking, talking about, and yes, memorizing poetry. --Ilene Cooper