Posts tagged poetry

Nobody's Secret

“I’m nobody! Who are you?”

Nobody’s Secret: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance by Michaela MacColl

Nobody's SecretInspired by the poem, I’m nobody! Who are you?, written by Emily Dickinson, Michaela MacColl brings to life a fictional mystery about Mr. Nobody. We are introduced to a spunky, intelligent, and very observant Emily Dickinson as she seeks to experience life, or in this case a bee landing on her nose, when she meets the mysteriously intriguing Mr. Nobody. Soon thereafter, he’s found floating in the Dickinson’s pond.

From her few conversations with Mr. Nobody and the clues she finds upon his death, Emily knows that he did not drown, accidental or otherwise. Everyone including the doctor and the reverend are convinced he did. Emily takes it upon herself to find out who Mr. Nobody was and why and how he died. Like any great detective, she sees what others do not and has the fortitude to find the truth no matter what.

Emily Dickinson is one of the greatest poets of the 19th Century and with this novel, MacColl gives a peek into the mind and life of a young fifteen-year-old Emily. Her younger sister, Lavinia “Vinnie”, plays a part in solving the mystery with her sister. Both as partner and keeper to make sure Emily doesn’t overexert herself (or get into any trouble!). Often Vinnie is left to do the household chores on her own, whilst Emily escapes to write or investigate. The Dickinson household is an economical one. Why purchase items, material or food, if you can make it yourself. This is what Mrs. Dickinson instills in her daughters so they can one day manage their own household. However, Emily longs to write and live her life free from chores. She hides a notebook in her corset to put to paper her random thoughts, which will later turn into poems. (more…)

I Haiku You

Love as Playful Poetry

I Haiku You written and illustrated by Betsy Snyder

you be my jelly,

 

i’ll be your peanut butter–

 

let’s stick together!

This, as you might expect, is a very sweet book. Readers will find a fun and poignant haiku on each page paired with cute illustrations of bold lines, smooth watercolors, and characters reminiscent of illustrator Gyo Fujikawa (one of our favorites). The characters express their love for everything from bikes and lemonade to parents, friends, and pets. Children and adults will both love the silly but apt comparisons in each poem. Snyder finds a way to boil down sentiment to basic ideas, and she does so very effectively without being condescending.

The book jacket says that “both the young and the young at heart will enjoy sharing these simple poems of affection and appreciation,” and I think that is absolutely true. (more…)

The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache

Author Spotlight: Interview with Erik Korhel

When you first meet author Erik Korhel, he comes across as quiet, subdued. When you open up one of his collections of poems, though, you realize he’s anything but.

When we met Erik, he was doing a story-time event at the store, reading from his books with the help of an actor to bring the pages to life. (His books, as mentioned in the review of The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache I wrote a couple of months back, have also been turned into plays that are performed across the state in theaters, schools, and libraries.) Afterward I got the chance to interview him–here’s what he had to say!

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You said that The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache was written and illustrated after your own childhood experiences. What is your favorite story that you incorporated into a poem from childhood?

I think my favorite is called “Sizzle”, which is about using your imagination as a child [for example] playing the hot lava game. That really sums up how I was as a kid.

I definitely played the hot lava game as a kid. There were though alligators in the lava. They were mutant alligators.

Yeah, hot lava was enough for us!

What inspired you to start writing for kids?

I think it had a lot to do with my childhood just being so wonderful. I had a fantastic childhood, and as I started to get older, I started to become more nostalgic for those times when it was easier and we weren’t paying bills and didn’t have to work. (more…)

The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache

Childhood Comes to Life as Poetry

The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache and other nostalgic companions by Erik Korhel

In this book, his second volume of poetry for children, Korhel continues with his earlier themes of childhood memories and growing up. His poems, each a true story about himself and his family’s experiences, are vibrant, funny, and engaging, something that kids can both connect to and enjoy. Each poem is a vignette of sorts, a moment in time captured by his youthful verse. Ranging from the silly to the contemplative, Korhel covers adventures on the playground (surrounded by imaginary lava), thoughts before bedtime (homework or dinosaurs?), and mistaking a large man for pregnant (oops!). The levels of humor make The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache great for multiple age levels, whether as a read-aloud bedtime book or a solo-reading excursion for older kids.

The illustrations by Celia Marie Baker are sweet and full of child-like wonder, each character colorful and expressive. It probably helps that she drew inspiration directly from real life: Korhel had her illustrate his true-story poems with paintings of actual photographs from his childhood–everything from the t-shirts to the nightlight and toys are authentic. (more…)

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