Poetry is everywhere in children’s books this summer, starting with the delightfully titled Oh, No! Where Are My Pants? And Other Disasters: Poems (HarperCollins, $15.99; ages 5 to 9). Editor Lee Bennett Hopkins rallies 14 excellent poems about bad days – a best friend moves away, homesickness, stage fright, a baseball mess-up, a nightmare about being at the dance with no pants. All cheerfully brought to life by illustrator Wolf Erlbruch.
Fold Me a Poem (Harcourt, $16; ages 5 to 10) blends two favorite early childhood activities: origami and making up poems. Artist Lauren Stringer portrays a boy creating paper animals during the course of a day, while poet Kristine O’Connell George creates 32 whimsical small poems about each animal. A surefire springboard to a day full of activity.
Two more books well worth the search: A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms (Candlewick, $17.99; all ages) offers radiant examples of each form, selected by Paul B. Janeczko and sprightly art by Chris Raschka; and Please Bury Me in the Library (Harcourt, $16; ages 6 to 9) features poems in praise of books and reading by J. Patrick Lewis with wild paintings by Kyle M. Stone.
Finally, the king of light verse is back with Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook (HarperCollins, $17.99; ages 4 to 8). Shel Silverstein gives us a lighter-than-ever confection of 40 poems that “spoonerize,” or transpose, the first letters of words. Beginning readers who play with even a few of these silly verses will incidentally be doing some important decoding work at the same time.
– Kathleen Krull