I’ve wanted to review Paul Fleischman’s poetry books for a long time, so I decided July is the month since Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices was the winner of the 1989 Newbery Medal and we’re in the 1980s for the Newbery Through the Decades challenge. His books are ones we return to again and again during our poetry tea times. Joyful Noise is a delightful collection of poems about insects (yes, insects). As the subtitle suggests, the poems are meant to be read aloud by two readers. Often the readers have lines to read simultaneously; sometimes the lines are the same, sometimes they’re different. It makes for a very interesting and entertaining effect. I’ve often thought that this book would make a great reader’s theater type dramatic presentation. (Something like the video below, only perhaps with costumes. 🙂 ) Fleischman covers a variety of insects, from grasshoppers to water striders to cicadas, in this volume. My favorite poem–it’s very hard to pick!–is probably “Water Striders,” which you can hear here:
Fleischman’s use of imagery is noteworthy: Grasshoppers
leaf to leaf
stem to stem
plant to plant
Six legged scribblers
of vanishing messages
Eric Beddows’ black-and-white illustrations are nicely detailed and subtly whimsical. We love Joyful Noise and give it a Highly Recommended.
Another of Fleischman’s poetry collections, also subtitled Poems for Two Voices, is I Am Phoenix. This collection is (obviously) about birds. We also own this collection and highly recommend it. While working on this review I learned of another Fleischman collection, Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices. Four voices? I’m intrigued!
Paul Fleischman is a prolific and diverse author; his genres run the gamut from poetry to historical fiction to nonfiction to picture books. We’ve only dipped a toe into his oeuvre; I’m eager to read more.
Related links here and elsewhere:
- My review of Bull Run by Paul Fleischman
- My review of The Animal Hedge by Paul Fleischman, a picture book that I love
- My reviews of Joyce Sidman’s award-winning poetry: Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems, Red Sings from Treetops (and here), Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night. Sidman is another poet whose works are nature-centered, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of them while reading Fleischman.
- Fleischman’s website is a treasure trove of information
- I was thinking about how many poetry books (true poetry books, not novels-in-verse) have won the Newbery. According to this neat-o quiz at the blog of Newbery-winning author Linda Sue Park, Joyful Noise is one of only two. Another cool fact I gleaned from the quiz is that Sid and Paul Fleischman are the only parent-child duo to both win the Newbery (Sid won for Whipping Boy two years before Paul won for Joyful Noise). Check it out!