I’ve been on a history and geography kick this National Poetry Month. So far I’ve shared a poetry book about presidents and a poetry atlas of the United States. Today’s pick just might be me favorite yet. It’s actually one we’ve read before, and I thought I might’ve blogged about it before. It turns out that I didn’t, so today’s the day. 🙂 Diane Siebert‘s author’s note at the beginning of Tour America explains that she and her husband set out on a summer tour of America that ended up lasting ten years, and these poems grew out of that experience. The topics of the poems are iconic American sites–the Golden Grate Bridge, the Washington Monument, Niagara Falls, Las Vegas, and so on. The poems take various forms. Some are short and some are long. What they all have in common, though, is that each one paints a picture of something distinctively American. Each two-page spread features a unique piece of artwork by Stephen T. Johnson, a poem, a little inset map of both the U.S. and the state in which the featured locale exists, and a rectangle of information about the place. My personal favorite poem is the first one in the book, entitled “American Towns.” In it, Siebert highlights some of the many interestingly named towns in America:
On open plains, in deserts dry,
Near ocean shores, on mountains high,
Beside the lakes and perched on hills
Are ‘burgs and ‘dales and ‘vales and ‘villes–
The towns across the USA
Whose names are fun to see and say:
Cocoan, Toast, Teaticket, Tea;
Justice, Hope, Equality.
And so it goes for forty-four more lines. I love reading this one aloud.
If you have older children who appreciate and enjoy American history and geography–just Americana, really, this book is for you. Highly Recommended. (Chronicle Books, 2011)