National Poetry Month is the perfect time to introduce young readers to the joys of verse and rhyme. These three new picture books—from treatises on treats to a collection of kid-friendly masterworks—are filled with reflection, adventure and just plain silliness.
TASTY TURNS OF PHRASE
Readers take caution: You might not want to open Deborah Ruddell's The Popcorn Astronauts: And Other Biteable Rhymes without a snack at the ready. This collection of 21 food-themed poems is the perfect treat for pint-size readers. Organized by seasons alongside whimsical watercolor illustrations by Joan Rankin, this collection is brimming with rhyming odes to summer peaches (“the summery sweetness within" and their "flannelpajamaty skin") or ripe fall apples ("Peel it / Slice it / Cinnamon-spice it"). But Ruddell knows her audience, and there’s plenty of playfulness mixed right in, like the mystery ingredients of “A Smoothie Supreme” ("A whisper of pickle / is what I detect, / with glimmers of turnip / I didn't expect!"). This is an expressive and delectable picture book that begs to be read aloud—it may even help inspire some picky or reluctant eaters.
RHYMES HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
Elizabeth Hammill, a children's bookseller and critic, became intrigued by the influence of nursery rhymes when she became a mother. But during a time when the need and desire for diverse books is strong, it has been almost impossible to find "a wide-ranging collection that sits alongside these Mother Goose favorites and injects fresh life into them," Hammill writes. There’s more to nursery rhymes than “Hickory, dickory dock,” and in Over the Hills and Far Away, she rounds up the most popular and enduring rhymes from around the globe and matches them with brilliant art and illustrations from Eric Carle, Mo Willems and 70-plus equally talented illustrators. From America’s popular playground cry of, “I scream, / you scream, / we all scream / for ice cream” to South African counting-out rhymes, Latino riddles and Trinidadian clapping rhymes, this beautiful book celebrates diverse voices and the importance of laughter and imagination in every child’s life.
OBJECTS THROUGH THE AGES
For Poetry Month, it doesn't get much better than The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects. Paul B. Janeczko takes readers on a journey from the Middle Ages to the present with 50 of the world's greatest poems. Simple objects anchor Janeczko’s selected poems, but readers will revel in the power of poetic language as a candle, sword, wheelbarrow and even a birthday card are taken to otherworldly heights. Top-notch watercolors from two-time Caldecott winner Chris Raschka buoy masterpieces by the likes of William Wordsworth, Carl Sandberg, Sylvia Plath and Mary Oliver. And of course, Billy Collins’ titular piece makes an appearance. A rare picture book, The Death of the Hat is a rich but accessible collection that children and adults alike will treasure.