Forest has a Song, by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley

Forest has a Song is a delight, a book of poetry that follows a child’s relationship with the nearby forest through a year, from winter around to winter again. The mood changes from poem to poem, as does the style. The watercolour illustrations depict sometimes only the girl and her dog exploring the woods, and sometimes her brother and parents as well. My favourites were “Song”, from which the title of the book is taken, “Farewell”, the final poem, and oddly, “Bone Pile”, in which she contemplates the last skeletal remains of some forest animal.

Literacy Tip: Reading poetry and nursery rhymes to babies is a fun and easy way to help babies learn the sounds and rhythms of language, even before they begin to use words themselves. There are many rhyming books that have simple, bouncing rhymes and bright pictures. Remember Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop or the Berenstains’ Inside, Outside, Upside Down? Traditional nursery rhymes are another source of poetry for young children. Sheree Fitch is known for her poetry for older kids, but she has also written books for babies, such as Kisses, Kisses, Baby-O. Ook’s favourite poetry to read to children, even babies, is by A.A. Milne. His two books of children’s poetry, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, are also available in one volume as The World of Christopher Robin. Even when children don’t know what the words mean, the sounds are beautiful, and as they grow older listening to the poetry, they begin to learn new words from the context.

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Tilt, by Ellen Hopkins

Guest Review by Kayla N.

Tilt is a poetic book by Ellen Hopkins. It is like poetry, but at a new level. The plot of this book is for three teenagers to somehow reconnect with their families and friends. They realize the values of a relationship, the hard way or easy way.

When Mikayla swears up and down that she is in love with some Dylan guy, reality soon kicks in when an unexpected surprise stirs the relationship.

Shane has just come out and is looking for new love. When he meets the man of his dreams, he soon discovers more in life, but with a fatal sickness in the family, how will Shane grip his sanity.

If you know what a normal, ordinary young girl is like, then you must have met someone like Harley. She is willing to exchange her personality with someone she completely isn’t in return. She’s willing to go high lengths to get what she wants.

Three stories combined in a story telling type of poetry. But what does it take to set things straight with their families? You will have to read the book to find out. And it can be checked out at the Dorchester Public Library.

Poetry for April

April is poetry month, so this month’s featured books are poetry. Two have a local connection.

The Essential Richard Outram is a selection of poems, some of which were published previously and some of which appear in print for the first time. Outram has been called “a poet’s poet”. The back cover describes his work as “by turns bawdy and decorous, sensual and ascetic”. The collection was edited by Amanda Jernigan, a scholar who lived for a time in Sackville.

Looking into Trees, by the late Douglas Lochhead, illustrated with black and white details from paintings by the Sackville poet’s brother Kenneth Lochhead, takes as its overarching theme memory without regret and joy in the present moment. Reflective, written in old age, the poems collected here still look out at life in a mood of celebration.

Voices in the Waterfall by Cree poet Beth Cuthand is, like Lochhead’s Looking into Trees, divided into four linked sections, each section loosely linked in theme or tone, providing structure to the greater whole.

This is only a selection of the poetry in the library. Over on the children’s side, we have poetry by A.A. Milne, Sheree Fitch, Shel Silverstein, and many more. Come explore!