We are celebrating science poetry books this week. For our usual Wednesday feature Bug of the Week let’s take a look at poetry books that explore insects and spiders. Poems about insects? It turns out that there are quite a few by some extraordinary children’s poets.
Why science poetry? What a fantastic opportunity to introduce the poetry fans to science and the science fans to poetry. It’s win-win!
(Note: title links go to Amazon for more information. See disclosure below.)
Let’s start out with Face Bug by our current Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Kelly Murphy and with photographs by Fred Siskind. Published just last month by Wordsong (March 1, 2013), this amazing book features close-up photographs of the “faces” of bugs in the “Face Bug Museum.” As a counterpoint to the poems by Lewis, Murphy’s illustrations create the story of two beetle friends visiting the museum. Obviously, there is a lot to explore here, so you’ll want to come back to the museum again and again.
Bug Off!: Creepy, Crawly Poems by Jane Yolen with photographs by her son Jason Stemple is also published by Wordsong (2012). In a series of two-page spreads we find a close-up photograph, a poem about the featured insect or arachnid, and an informative paragraph to add fun facts and details.
Yolen reveals in her “A Note from the Author” right up front that in the past she wasn’t all that fond of insects. After spending time with her son’s photographs, however, she changed her mind. The “beauty” and “mystery” of insects inspired her to write poems about them.
Jane Yolen is an imaginative storyteller and poet. Paired with her son’s detailed macro photography, the result is sure to please any bug-loving youngster or help a bug-hating youngster conquer his or her fear and dislike.
Douglas Florian’s insectlopedia has long been a favorite of our family (reprinted in 2002). Douglas Florian was formerly a cartoonist, and his fun, silly side comes through in his poetry books.
The illustrations that accompany the poems are quirky. Florian painted them with watercolors on brown paper bags. It gives them an informal look that is appealing and kid-friendly. His concrete and shape poems are basically self-illustrated.
Although the age range is listed as 5 – 8 years, as with many poetry books, this one is sophisticated enough to work for a variety of ages.
UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings, a newer book by Douglas Florian (2012), goes into more scientific detail than some of his other books of poetry. The reader comes away with an appreciation of bees and how they live.
This video shows Douglas Florian reading one of his poems from the book.
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Eric Beddows is a classic that everyone should experience. The depth, the accuracy and the amazing rhythm of the poems for two voices, it is simply made to be shared. Some of my favorite poems of all time are in this little book.
If you discover you enjoy poems for two voices, Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!: Poems for Two Voices by Carole Gerber and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin just came out in February (2013). Although it is centered more on plants, it features a number of insects and other creatures as well. Listen to what they have to say.
Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems (Caldecott Honor Book, BCCB Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award) by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange encompasses the change of seasons at a pond. Not just about insects, it is about the pond as a habitat.
Hey There, Stink Bug! by Leslie Bulion and illustrated by Leslie Evans is for the older reader (probably 8+) who doesn’t mind a bit of gore and mayhem. This is a poetry book with bite!
It also contains up-to-date factual information about insects and notes about the poetic forms. The illustrations are very clean, crisp and bright. I was impressed that the author had obviously spent time reading the work of the late great entomologist, Thomas Eisner.
Hope you decide to try some of this fabulous poetry books about insects. Do you have a favorite? Any suggestions for books to add to the list? We’d love to hear from you.
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