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Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems Hardcover – February 28, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4-George has penned 30 sublimely simple poems that capture the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of a family's camping trip, from pitching the tent to pulling up stakes and returning home. All of the selections convey a child-focused sense of wonder as the campers explore the lakefront and surrounding terrain, enjoy the marvels of the natural world, relish meals round the campfire, and toast marshmallows ("This is art-/a time of serious reflection/as my pillowed confection/slowly reaches golden perfection"). The poems are varied and inventive, replete with marvelous images and universal truths. There's even a selection devoted to the "Mosquito Song." Each one is accompanied by a well-executed and evocative acrylic painting. Some of Kiesler's artwork sweeps across double pages to provide a dramatic vista-a meandering hiking trail, a field of wild mustard, a star-studded night sky-while other pictures reveal small, but equally telling details. In "Flannel," the child is shown holding her pine-, smoke-, and moss-scented camping shirt to her face, paired with the words, "I keep it hidden/in my bottom drawer-/where no one will find it/and wash away/my memories." A terrific idyll for summertime sharing, even for confirmed couch potatoes.
Luann Toth, School Library Journal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

George deftly describes the satisfying sequence of familiar events in a summer camping experience in this collection of 30 related poems perfectly paired once again with Kiesler's inviting oil paintings (The Great Frog Race and Other Poems, 1998 etc.) The daily rhythms of a camping trip are presented from the "Tent" to exploring an "Abandoned Cabin" to observing "A Doe." Shared common experiences include "Sleeping Bag': "It's so cold outside. I'm getting dressed inside/my sleeping bag. I wriggle, scootch, scrunch, and jiggle. Flop/Front flips, back flips—I'm a caterpillar/in a cozy cloth cocoon/that zips." Short pieces like "Mosquito Song" demonstrate pointed wordplay with a witty use of alliteration and onomatopeia. "It's Meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!/Mosqueeeeeeeeeto!/Is that you, Dinner?/Greeeeeeeeetings." Kiesler expresses the changing vistas of the countryside from the uneasy, dark palette of the double-page spread for "Storm" to the bright, sunshiny view of a field for "Wild Mustard." The changing layout of each page gives a sense of surprise to the most ordinary of events, the words of the concrete poem, "Eavesdropping," "Tipping/a slender/silver ear" placed in the shape of a cresent moon, the stanzas of "Flashlight" positioned in the beams of light to name just a few. Altogether an engaging trip.
Kirkus Reviews

Like their previous collaboration, The Great Frog Race and Old Elm Speaks, this volume by George and Kiesler is as delicious as a toasted marshmallow treat. George's poems are well crafted, varied and easily accessible. The topics range from a tent-shaped poem about the careful raising of the family's canvas lodging to post-trip unpacking, in which a child tucks away a flannel shirt perfumed in scents of pine, wood fire and forest moss in her "bottom drawer—/where no one will find it/and wash away [her] memories." Though Kielser's human figures are sometimes wooden, she suffuses her acrylic landscapes with light filtered through leaves. A few of the illustrations seem too idyllic and scrubbed (in "Abandoned Cabin," its "crumbling fireplace" looks newly constructed; in another, the brother's "grubby hands" seem freshly washed). Yet George's poems shine, the images clear and startling. A "panther cloud crosses the sky"; after a storm, a "confetti of birds... dance another rain shower." A concrete poem in the shape of a waning moon is exquisite: "Tipping/a slender/silver ear,/Moon tries/to pretend/she isn't/listening/to our/secrets." Readers will definetly want S-mores.
Publishers Weekly, Starred

"fine collection brings the outdoors up close...direct, satisfying poems that will engage kids at school, across the curriculum, or at home." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

The poems are varied and inventive, replete with marvelous images and universal truths. . . .A terrific idyll for summertime sharing, even for confirmed couch potatoes.
School Library Journal, Starred

The pleasure and surprise of going camping are conveyed in eighteen brief poems. . . .Richly colored paintings enhance the verses.
Horn Book Guide

Whether playful or profound, the exquisitely crafted poems reverberate with eloquent yet effortless language, while the radiant acrylic artwork hints at the awe-inspiring mysteries of nature.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061804597X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618045976
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There are, in each of Kristine O'Connell George's books, moments that make you gasp with the depth of insight she's put into words. "Toasting Marshmallows" is no different in that respect and is a joy to read. George has captured the sights, sounds -- and silences that are part of camping. With humor and joy, the camping experience -- from setting up the tent to listening to an owl --is illuminated and enhanced by the words in this delightful book of poems. A treasure for the summer -- and all year round!
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By Karen on April 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Do you have someone in your family who burns their marshmallows black and another who patiently waits for it to turn golden brown? There is a poem for that! If you love poetry and nature, you will love this book! Get your children hooked on poetry with this book!
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Format: Hardcover
After serving as a girl scout camp counselor for a summer, the poetry in this book certainly has meaning to me. The poems are wonderfully supported by soft painted illustrations. The story behind the poetry is a girl and her family going on a camping trip together... maybe an annual event. Written in her point of view, there are images of the animals she sees, scenes from the campsite, interactions with her family, introspective reactions to nature and the trip home.

I like the poetry itself for its imagery and emotional value. They are short, sweet and to the point, but very meaningful. I think my favorite poem is the one about the girl and her brother arguing about what is making the sounds at night outside their tent.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This will be a family favorite around the campfire. Uses more mature poetic verse than most kids poetry, but still readable and accessible for all ages. Lovely illustrations. I couldn't be happier with this purchase.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Our family loves this book, and identifies with most of the experiences. We bring it on every camping trip and read it by the fire. I wish I could find more books like it.
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Format: Hardcover
I read nightly to my boys, 6 and 9. I am not in the habit of choosing poetry books, but we picked this volume up in support of a school assignment, and it has swayed me to look into more poetry for bedtime reading. The language and structure of the poems in Toasting Marshmallows is rich and thought provoking, and the illustrations are simply beautiful. In a couple of instances, the illustrations provided my children a hint about a less-obvious meaning of the poem. The themes of the poems range from lighthearted (do you brown your marshmallows slowly and carefully, or do you rush them and turn them black?) to contemplative (spending peaceful time alone, just being) and wistful (hiding away your camping shirt so that the scent memories won't be washed away in the laundry). In a quiet way the poems are also a tribute to a child's relationships with other family members. Lovely book in all respects. My 9 year old plans to read it next for his Reading Challenge.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved the poems and the book is beautifully illustrated. This will be fun to pass around and let everyone read aloud around the campfire. We have three 6 year olds in our group and they should have no problem reading most of the poems.
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Format: Hardcover
Writing that pulls you in....illustrations to make you feel like you are there. This is one of my favorite poetry books! Perfect to read with your children before a camping trip, or under their bedcovers with a flashlight. A perfect book to use during a camping theme for a birthday party or home learning or in a classroom. From nature to tent talk to camping equipment, this book uses glorious words and vivid pictures to take your brain camping.
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