Here’s a Little Poem

Andrew Fusek Peters of Shropshire, England, the well-known young (but VERY tall) British poet for children, emailed me and asked if I would be interested in working on an anthology of poems about a child’s day with him. He would choose the British poets and me the Americans. He’d already lined up Walker UK with the absolutely marvelous editor Caroline (Caz) Royds and they in turn had gotten Candlewick, their sister company in America, to agree to co-produce if I would come on board. So I signed on because it sounded like the perfect book to come after THIS LITTLE PIGGY. We spent the better part of a year seeking out both old, oft printed, and brand new poems.

When I was in London, I visited with Caz and Andrew and we got to see Polly Dunbar’s work. To say she knocked us over is mild. I call her “Maurice Sendak with a kick!” What a grand book they produced. The perfect gift to any new mom or any first or second birthday child.

The book got a great start with starred reviews in PW, SLJ, and Booklist. A rave from PlanetEsme. Doesn’t come much better than that! There is a poster, too.

This weekly column looks at lists of books kids are reading in various categories. Information on the books below came from Amazon.com’s list of poetry best-sellers for children. They are listed in order of popularity.

Poetry Children Will Love

  1. Poetry for Young People: Maya Angelou by Edwin Graves Wilson and Jerome Lagarrigue (Ages 9-12)
  2. The Random House Book of Poetry for Children by Jack Prelutsky and Arnold Lobel (Ages 9-12)
  3. If You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand: Poems About School Kalli Dakos, G. Brian Karas (Ages 4-8)
  4. Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost by Gary Schmidt and Henri Sorensen (Ages 9-12)
  5. Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out by Ralph Fletcher (Ages 9-12)
  6. Poetry Speaks to Children by Elise Paschen, Dominique Raccah, Wendy Rasmussen, Judy Love (Ages 4-8)
  7. The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasure by Jack Prelutsky and Meilo So (Ages 9-12)
  8. Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry by Jane Yolen, Andrew Peters, and Polly Dunbar (Ages 4-8)

— Washington Examiner

Accolades:

  • Book Sense Summer 2007 Children’s Pick List
  • Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, Bank Street
  • Finalist CYBILS award
  • ALA Notable Book 2007
  • E. B. White picture book list
  • CCBC’s annual best-of-the-year list
  • IBBY Honors List for 2008
  • Booklist Editors Choice 2007
  • Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week
  • PW favorite Poetry Book for 2007
  • Children’s Books Ireland, top poetry 2006-7
  • Book Sense Summer 2007 Children’s Pick List
  • Winner Bank Street Best Poetry Book

What reviewers have said:

  • *STARRED REVIEW* “Many collections of poems that purport to be for very young children are actually for primary graders. This oversize book really is for preschoolers. The poems, one per page, are arranged in four categories that encompass child’s a world: “Me, Myself, and I,” “Who Lives in My House?,” “I Go Outside,” and “Time for Bed.” The poetry is witty, intelligent, and well crafted, and perfect for the target audience…The art was created using a wide range of mediums and techniques, and Dunbar blends them seamlessly to create charming images that are amazingly expressive. The children in them are carefree and happy and the book as a whole suggests a world that is safe and secure. Here’s a Little Poem is a great way to introduce the youngest listeners to the genre.”—School Library Journal, starred review
  • *STARRED REVIEW* “With lots of hugs and kisses, as well as messy nonsense and uproarious action, this big spacious anthology of more than 60 poems is a wonderful first book to read with babies and toddlers over and over again.”—Booklist, starred review.
  • *STARRED REVIEW* “Here are, actually, 61 little poems, which together provide a high-spirited, engaging introduction to poetry.”—PW starred review
  • *STARRED REVIEW* “With playful illustrations and 61 poems by famous folks like Langston Hughes and Margaret Wise Brown, this compilation is an ideal way to introduce your child to verse. The simple rhymes celebrate the joy of everyday experiences, like holding Grandpa’s hand or playing with a puppy, so reading them is a treat, not a chore” -Parenting Magazine, picked as “Our Daily Fave”
  • “Like the nursery rhymes of Mother Goose, the verse in Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters’s “Here’s a Little Poem” is blessed with catchy rhythms…With a wonderful range of choices and Polly Dunbar’s inviting illustrations, this could become a favorite lap book. “—New York Times
  • “Here’s A Little Poem is a treat of an anthology, festively illustrated. It offers repeated proof that you do not need complicated language to write a good poem. Readers of all ages will find treasures here.”—Guardian UK
  • “This lovely book deserves a place in every playgroup and child’s library… Both the poems and the pictures express a child’s sense of simple pleasures: sand, mud, ice cream, splashing in puddles, dressing up, climbing trees, and the book is visually and verbally enriching, even for children who have not yet learned to speak.”—Sunday London Times: Children’s Book of the Week
  • “This substantial Anglo-American collaboration is a delight from beginning to end…sixty poems tenderly convey the everyday world and experiences of young children…As a first poetry book they don’t come much better.”-Carousel Number 35, March 2007
  • “It adds up to the perfect collection for the very young, with a sunny quality of joie de vivre, and a good selection for bedtime.”—www.thebookseller.com
  • “Imagine you wake up one sunny morning and someone brings you a plate, only instead of holding scrambled eggs, you are served up a dish piled high with more than sixy little presents to unwrap, each one more lovely and surprising than the last. That’s what’s being served up in this oversized collection of bright spots in a young child’s life…The illustrations are every bit as delightful as the verse, from the perfectly pregnant mommy whose midsection seems to be sticking out three feet to the grandpa with adoring children coming out of his pockets to the family making music together that practically sings off the page…You’ll find the spirit of poetry contagious in this most recitable preschool collection since Mother Goose, and yes, I know that’s saying a lot, but how often do you find a book that makes you hold your breath just a little bit before you turn the page?….Exceptional selections in an order so perfect it’s rivaled only perhaps by the Beatles’ White Album go far to underscore not only the art of the poem, but the art of the anthology. This one belongs in every nursery, on every baby shower gift list, and certainly on the shelf of anyone who loves great children’s poetry and great illustration.”-Planet Esme HYPERLINK “http://planetesme.blogspot.com/” http://planetesme.blogspot.com/
  • “A gem of a collection!”—Palo Alto Weekly
  • “This generous, lap-filling volume is a delightful first treasury for sharing and read-alouds.”-Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  • “Better value than 100 picture books. This is a fabulous anthology, from English and American poets, bound together by Polly Dunbar’s spirited illustrations.”—Daily Telegraph
  • “Anyone who lives or works with young children should have Here’s A Little Poem”—TES
  • “And the result is a simple, beautiful book, which young children will enjoy looking at, as much as reading or having it read to them by grown-ups. Equally, there are invaluable rhythms and ideas here that will instill in the young reader an early and enthusiastic love of poetry. A collection of poetry which demonstrates what poetry at its very best can be.”— Children’s Books Ireland, top poetry read 2006-7
  • “Achieves picture book nirvana…a richly entertaining book. The real joy of this book is how it makes poetry look like fun. Every page sings…”—Sydney Morning Herald
  • “This lovely book deserves a place in every playgroup and child’s library. We all know the huge contribution that nursery rhymes make to infants’ development, but this collection offers more than the familiar cannon. It chooses rollicking, rhyming, rhythmic snippets by modern poets, most of them living – the earliest is Robert Louis Stevenson – that describe toddlers’ experience: poems, for instance, about getting dressed, about play, home, pets, bath-time and bedtime. Many are warm, many comic, a few are nonsensical, but most encapsulate a thought, an image or a moment. Polly Dunbar’s stylishly naive pictures, sometimes given whole wordless pages, sing with colour and fun, as her lively, dumpling-headed, rubber-limbed, munchkin children prance, hop and snuggle. Both the poems and the pictures express a child’s sense of simple pleasures – sand, mud, ice cream, splashing in puddles, dressing up, climbing trees – and the book is visually and verbally enriching even for children who have not yet learnt to speak.”—Sunday Times, Children’s Book Of The Week
  • “A treat of an anthology, festively illustrated. It offers repeated proof that you do not need complicated language to write a good poem. Readers of all ages will find treasures here.”—Observer
  • “A fail-safe option for gift-buyers.”—Independent
  • “This is an anthology that will be popular in homes and in early childhood classes.”–New Zealand Magpies
  • Favorite pets and hated foods. Babies, brothers, sisters, mothers. The sheer delight of exploring the world. Take every beloved childhood experience, throw in a tantrum and some bedtime talk, and set them against a backdrop of rhyme, rhythm, and color. The result is a dazzling new collection of poems for the very young. . . . Polly Dunbar created lively illustrations for each poetic gem, and creative use of color in the design of the text and lettering brightens each spread. While it is designed as a book to read-aloud to toddlers, the engaging illustrations and approachable text will encourage emerging readers to explore the poems on their own.”–Children’s Literature

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