Welcome to the Poetry Friday Roundup! I’m so glad you stopped by. You’re in for a real treat! Not only will you find links to other Poetry Friday posts, I’m thrilled to share poems and illustrations from Grumbles From the Town: Mother-Goose Voices With a Twist (WordSong, 2016), Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s hot-off-the-press companion volume to Grumbles From the Forest (WordSong, 2013), with illustrations by Angela Matteson. I was lucky enough to receive an F&G (folded and gathered) of this book when I was at The Highlights Foundation’s workshop, “The Craft and Heart of Writing Poetry for Children” with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.
These poems, that “remix old songs anew,” have broad appeal. Jane and Rebecca chose fourteen favorite nursery rhymes and gave voices to objects, (Jack’s plum), real or imagined secondary characters (Old King Cole’s daughter), or let the main character speak for him or herself (the Queen of Hearts). Young readers will love the playful nature of these poems. Older readers will appreciate the wordplay, such as learning that the dog from “Hey Diddle Diddle” always “hated playing second fiddle.” Some of the poems, such as “Not Another Fall,” explore the backstory of the original rhyme. What was Humpty Dumpty doing on that wall in the first place?
“A Neighbor Gossips to the Gardener
“Not Another Fall” about the Humpty Brothers”
Humpty Dumpty Here’s what I heard:
skates on a wall, SPLAT!
another big tumble, Said to myself, what was that?
another pratfall. A Humpty had fallen
Another big grin to the other side.
when he jumps to his feet. He was roundish,
He’s got loads of jokes and small. Fell from the wall.
that just cannot be beat. Always in places
He’s our class clown; they shouldn’t be.
that’s never in doubt, The the other one tumbled
but that why he’s sitting from an apple tree.
again News came in twos: a cut and a bruise.
in time-out. (Lucky they didn’t break any legs.)
Those Humpty boys
© Jane Yolen, 2016 are mischievous eggs.
© Rebecca Kai Dotlich, 2016
Angela Matteson’s whimsical illustrations are perfectly suited to these lively rhymes. Her artwork is infused with personality; who wouldn’t want to live in this shoe?
“Shoe Speaks” “Summer in the Shoe”
I love the sound of giggles It was so hot, living in leather
From the lace-swings in the tree, all day and all night. Sunlight
The thump of running feet spilled through the open top,
As children race on home to me. tumbled down stairs,
rested on the cat.
But best is how I love them Imagine this, imagine that….
When they dream inside my toe. read books in a heel,
Do you doubt a shoe can love? ate supper in a toe.
I have a sole, you know. Blew bubbles
from small windows,
© Jane Yolen, 2016 rolled marbles down the tongue,
bump, bumpity, bump.
Played next door
in a pirate ship–
lots of space to roam.
Still, we liked going home.
© Rebecca Kai Dotlich, 2016
Grumbles From the Town also includes the texts of the original nursery rhymes, and I appreciated the fascinating end notes about the origin of each rhyme. The roots of some rhymes have been lost to history, but in most cases the background includes stories that are always interesting, if not always child-friendly.
This collection is a must-have for all elementary classrooms. Students of all ages will enjoy exploring point-of-view through these poems, and the opportunities for children to write their own nursery rhymes “with a twist” are endless! In addition, the possibilities for lessons about vocabulary and word choice abound. But the best reason for sharing this book with children is that these poems are fun to read and full of humor. Thank you, Jane, Rebecca, and Angela for so generously sharing your work today!