Firefly July Selected by Paul B. Janeczko

Firefly JulyLynn:  I know it is early in the year to be announcing favorite books but I have no doubt that Firefly July:  A Year of Very Short Poems (Candlewick 2014) is going to be one of mine.  Let me count the ways that I LOVE this book!

The book is divided into seasons beginning with Spring.  Paul Janeczko has gathered VERY short poems, as the title says, reflecting each season from world class poets, some that may be familiar to children and many that won’t.  Each poem is indeed very short, a few lines at most, but each is a small gem to be tasted and savored.  There are some famous ones like “The Red Wheelbarrow” and Carl Sandburg’s “Fog,” but each and every one is a small gift to share.

Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are simply gorgeous, capturing the heart of each poem with a contagious joy.  There are so many ways to use this amazing book.  Use it to introduce poetry to children in a classroom or start each morning with a poem or as part of a seasons science unit. It is lovely to use as a lap book, snuggling up with a child, as part of bedtime.  This is the perfect book to use for Random Acts of Poetry to brighten days in your school or library.

Me  – I’m going back and reading the Spring poems again.  It’s got to get here some time!

Cindy: If anything can make me still appreciate winter at this point (yes, we had 3 inches of snow in Michigan yesterday) it is this collection of poems and Sweet’s art.

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

–Robert Frost

Lynn can dally in Spring; I’m moving on to the bright colors of the summer pages with the titular poem by J. Patrick Lewis and beach scenes with April Halprin Wayland’s “Sandpipers,” and Charlotte Zolotow’s “Little Orange Cat,” stalking across a daisy- and buttercup-filled double page spread that may help me make it through to the warmer days ahead. The fall poems will have to wait…their turn will come soon enough. This book should be in every K-12 classroom or school library and it is a perfect gift book or treasure for adults who want a lift.

Melissa Sweet’s illustrations always make me want to get out my paints and scrapbook supplies to do my own collages and I think this book in particular could inspire an April Poetry Month project. Imagine if children and teens each selected a poem and then built their own 8 x 10 frame-able collage to illustrate it? I may have to make one myself while the snow piles start to melt.





About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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