From School Library Journal
Grade 3-8–A fine, basic collection. Approximately half of the 97 selections are read or performed on the accompanying CD. The book provides a mix of adult writers (Rita Dove, Seamus Heaney, and Billy Collins, among others) and those whose work is specifically for children, such as X. J. Kennedy and Mary Ann Hoberman. Topics include childhood, animals, nonsense poems, and humor (including C. K. Williams's Gas, which dwells on the fact that FARTING IS FORBIDDEN!). The three illustrators have captured the different tones of the selections, from a comic portrait of the Jabberwock slayer wearing a colander and wielding a plunger and the wailing children in William Stafford's First Grade, to the moving paintings of a girl with flowers echoing the natural images of James Berry's Okay, Brown Girl, Okay. The CD gives children the opportunity to hear several of the poets, such as Robert Frost reading Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening and Langston Hughes reading The Negro Speaks of Rivers. They hear a variety of accents and dialects–an Irish lilt, New England inflections, or James Berry's lilting Jamaican-British voice. Readers of Roald Dahl's books will enjoy hearing him read The Dentist and the Crocodile, and fans of The Lord of the Rings books and movies will appreciate hearing Tolkien read Frodo's Song in Bree. Joy Harjo frames her Eagle Poem with a haunting vocalization that echoes its serious tone.–Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
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Gr. 3-5. Teachers will celebrate this wide-ranging collection of both classic and contemporary poetry, including selections from Robert Bly and Rainer Maria Rilke, who aren't often included in anthologies for youth. There's little organization, although similarly themed selections sometimes appear together (the witches' lines from Macbeth
come just after Karla Kuskin's "Knitted Things," also about a witch, for example). Almost every poem appears on a heavily illustrated page, and the literal, cheerful, color illustrations of animals and young children often overwhelm the imagery in the words. The pictures are handsome, but they seem aimed mostly at a picture-book audience. Many selections, such as Mary Ann Hoberman's "Rabbit," are appropriate for picture-book readers, but a large proportion of the poems will be most enjoyed by older elementary students, who will be able to focus on the words and appreciate the magnificent selection. A CD containing audio tracks of the poems being read aloud, in many cases by the poets themselves, rounds out the package. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved