Short poems + illustrations by Melissa Sweet? Even before cracking open my brand new library copy, I knew this was gold. Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems is an anthology by the prolific poet Paul B. Janeczko whose name I recognize from my long-ago days in a secondary education English course of study. The “very short poems” bit of the subtitle is important: the brevity of these little poems make them very accessible to children and perfect for Poetry Tea Time, which is something I prize. The poets whose works are anthologized in this generously-sized picture book include some commonly anthologized in American literature textbooks like Frost, Dickinson, and Sandburg, as well as poets known for their children’s poetry like Charlotte Zolotow and Eve Merriam. Also included are quite a few new-to-me poets. One thing I really like about this collection is that often even the well-known poets have lesser-known works in this book. For example, this little gem, “Dust of Snow” by Robert Frost, shines brightly in the “Winter” section of the book:
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.
Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are classic–collagey, hand-drawn, colorful, and in a word (or two), super kid-friendly. It’s no secret ’round these parts how much I love her work. This is a book to pore over. As for how this one stacks up against the other Cybils poetry nominees, I have no idea. Stacks of new poetry books are not exactly easy to come by, but I’m seriously thinking of adding this one to our collection. Highly, Highly Recommended. (Candlewick, 2014)
- Paul B. Janeczko’s website (a couple of pictures of the books’ illustrations on the front page)
- Melissa Sweet’s website
- Review by Kelly B. Fineman, Cybils panelist
- Other books illustrated by Melissa Sweet we’ve
enjoyedloved: Balloons over Broadway (fabulous Thanksgiving book written and illustrated by her–score!); Mrs. Harkness and the Panda; Spike, the Mixed-Up Monster; A Splash of Red; and A River of Words.