At the end of 2017, I made a pledge. I challenged myself to review good books every month in 2018, particularly books that haven’t gotten as much love as I feel they deserve. I call it Kidlit Karma because I’m aiming to spread the love for books that I love.
April is poetry month, so today’s post features all picture books with outstanding use of poetic devices. I have divided them into rhyming and free verse poetry.
RHYMING PICTURE BOOKS
People often assume that picture books MUST be written in rhyme – not true!
People also often assume that writing rhyming picture books is easy – definitely not true!
I’ve published one board book in rhyme and have another one coming later this year. So I can tell you from experience that nailing down perfect rhyme and meter is no easy feat.
So when I see someone who has done an excellent job, I take notice.
Picture Book: SOME PETS by Angela Diterlizzi and Brendan Wenzel
This book is written in a snappy beat and short lines that will keep even young kids engaged. The language is rich despite only having three words per line. (And two of them repeat in almost every line!) The illustrations are funny and help to carry the story. Overall, this is a fun and bouncy rhyming picture book that will suit a wide range of ages.
SOME PETS on Amazon
Picture Book: TWINDERELLA: A FRACTIONED FAIRY TALE by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Deborah Marcero
Cinderella has a twin sister. Who knew? This clever take on the fractured fairy tale combines perfect rhyme and meter with a STEM focus on fractions. Poetry, humor, and STEM – bestill my nerdy, kidlit-loving heart. The most impressive part is that none of these parts were sacrificed for the sake of the others: the poetry is perfect, the story is lovely, and the math is accurate and amusing.
TWINDERELLA on Amazon
FREE VERSE PICTURE BOOKS
My last two poetic picture books are a little different. Just as people mistakenly assume that picture books must rhyme, they also assume that poetry must rhyme. If you don’t already love free verse poetry, I recommend reading these out loud. You’ll be a changed person.
Picture Book: SIT-IN: HOW FOUR FRIENDS STOOD UP BY SITTING DOWN by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
I can’t help but gush about this book. First, the language is sumptuous and superb. So much so, that I would argue with the book description. This isn’t prose; it’s free verse poetry. But it’s also a true story well, told well. And it’s has a message that is important in any age. The two parts (poetry and true story) complement each other: the poetry brings in a sense of vibrancy and emotion that lets readers connect to the people in the story, their plight, and the power of their actions.
Picture Book: CROWN: AN ODE TO THE FRESH CUT by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James
Normally, I save my reviews for books that haven’t gotten much reviewing love. This book has gotten plenty of love, including enough awards that they have to arrange them carefully on the cover. But this is one of those books that’s deserves every drop it has gotten and then some.
You could also argue that this book is truly poetic prose instead of free verse poetry. This is one of those cases where the lyrical language is so strong, you’re not quite sure what you’re reading, but you love it in any case.
So go get this book. See why it won all the award and decide for yourself if it’s prose or poetry.
CROWN: AN ODE TO THE FRESH CUT on Amazon