Sponsored by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making a friend. Award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a half-Chinese girl, Hanna, in a town in Dakota Territory, in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant voice will resonate with readers.
Hi Kid Lit Friends,
April is the month to celebrate poetry, and children’s books do a marvelous job bringing poetry to young people. Here are some of my favorite newer releases that have poetry in them. What are your favorite books of poetry?
Follow the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration, and Cake by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman is a sweet collection of poems that celebrate food! The book has the look of a vintage collector’s compendium that includes pictures, ephemera and annotations to add interest. Even young children are familiar with recipes–a series of steps to help them make something–and the book begins with simple dishes and ideas (such as a recipe for reading a recipe and a recipe for measuring), and then adds more ideas and grows in sophistication until the last recipes broach lofty concepts (such as a recipe for understanding and a recipe for peace).
Another great pick for younger readers is the picture book Whoo-Ku, Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Jonathan Voss. This book is an accessible introduction to poetry for younger readers who will be enthralled by this story of a pair of great horned owlets that peep and squeak in their feathered nest. Mama and Papa hunt for food and fend off predators while the chicks grow strong enough to hop and flap between the branches of their tree, then leap and fly away, ready to explore the wild world around them.
For slightly older readers, Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.
For upper middle grade readers, I have two recommendations. The first is On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Kenard Pak. This collection of poems tell the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Based on the lives of soldiers at Pearl Harbor and civilians in Hiroshima, On the Horizon contemplates humanity and war through verse that sings with pain, truth, and the importance of bridging cultural divides. Kenard Pak’s stunning illustrations depict real-life people, places, and events, making for an incredibly vivid return to our collective past.
My last recommendation for upper middle grade readers is Dreams from Many Rivers by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Beatriz Gutierrez Hernandez. From Juana Briones and Juan Ponce de León, to eighteenth century slaves and modern-day sixth graders, the many and varied people depicted in this moving narrative speak to the experiences and contributions of Latinos throughout the history of the United States, from the earliest known stories up to present day.
Until next time!
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