Friday, November 9, 2012

R is Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet

Last week, my daughter's school brought in the children's book author, Judy Young, for a Meet the Author event. I had not heard about Young's books before that evening, but I was taken, as she talked about her books, their illustrations, and the process of becoming an author, by her work. Young's books are inviting, beautifully illustrated, and intelligent. They are not of the See Spot Run variety, which I think pretty much every kid finds snooze-inducing. They are intricate, finely wrought, detailed ... and they ask a lot from the reader (which I like).

As one of the prize-winning poets in her grade, my daughter got to bring home R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet. As the title suggests, the book is structured by the letters of the alphabet, each of which stand for something related to the world of poetry (A is for acrostic, B is for ballad, you get the idea). As the pages open to each new word, Young explains the concept, device, etc. up for consideration and includes a poem and an illustration to bring that thing to life. Here's "A," for example.

The rest of the book is filled with beautifully drawn caricatures of other famous authors and poets, enlivening a literary canon that, for children, often can seem aloof and unintelligible, reminding us that poetry was often viewed as one of education's most civilizing and educative tools (See Walter de la Mare's Poems for Children).

My favorite lines in this book are from "The Ballad of the Butterfly and Rose":

Soon summer passed and came the time
When roses start to fade
And butterflies leave for the south,
Yet knowing that, he stayed.

The butterfly felt freezing winds
But would not leave his bride
And with his wings wrapped round his rose,
Together they both died.

Morbid, but lovely. The kind of thing I usually like;). Enjoy! ~Alice
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