Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Welcome to this site dedicated to celebrating the works of J. Patrick Lewis, Children's Poet Laureate and recipient of the National Council of Teachers Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. 

Here you will find readers guides and digital trailers created by teachers and librarians enrolled in graduate courses in children's literature at Texas Woman's University. You'll find tools for nearly ALL of Pat's books of poetry for children, including these titles (listed in alphabetical order): 
  • A Burst of Firsts
  • A Hippopotamusn't and Other Animal Verses
  • A World of Wonders:  Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme
  • Arithme-Tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes
  • Big is Big (and Little, Little)
  • Birds on a Wire
  • Blackbeard, the Pirate King
  • Boshblobberbosh; Runcible Poems for Edward Lear 
  • Castles: Old Stone Poems
  • Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year
  • Doodle Dandies: Poems That Take Shape
  • Earth Verses and Water Rhymes
  • Good Mornin’, Ms America: The USA in Verse
  • Good Mousekeeping: And Other Animal Home Poems
  • Heroes and She-Roes: Poems of Amazing and Everyday Heroes
  • Isabella Abnormella and the Very, Very Finicky Queen of Trouble
  • July is a Mad Mosquito
  • Long Was the Winter Road They Traveled
  • Monumental Verses
  • Please Bury Me In The Library
  • Riddle-icious
  • Riddle-Lightful
  • Ridicholas Nicholas: More Animal Poems
  • Scientrickery: Riddles in Science
  • Self Portrait with Seven Fingers: A Life of Marc Chagall in Verse
  • Skywriting: Poems in Flight
  • Spot the Plot! A Riddle Book of Book Riddles
  • Swan Song: Poems of Extinction
  • The Boat of Many Rooms: The Story of Noah in Verse
  • The Bookworm's Feast: A Potluck of Poems
  • The Brothers' War: Civil War Voices in Verse
  • The Fat-Cats At Sea
  • The House of Boo
  • The La-di-da Hare 
  • The Little Buggers: Insect and Spider Poems
  • The Snowflake Sisters 
  • The Underwear Salesman: And Other Jobs for Better or Verse
  • Tulip at the Bat
  • Under the Kissletoe; Christmastime Poems
  • Vherses: A Celebration of Outstanding Women
  • + Poems for Teaching in the Content Areas
Below, you'll find a dozen digital trailers, followed by another 30 readers guides full of fun and meaningful learning activities and connections. Enjoy! We hope you find all these useful and will be inspired to share Pat's poetry in your own creative ways.

P.S. In addition, J. Patrick (Pat) Lewis has published 10 other works of poetry for young people (to date) also worthy of consideration (but we don't have guides/trailers for everything-- yet!). Here's that list:
  • Freedom Like Sunlight: Praisesongs for Black Americans
  • Galileo’s Universe
  • Michelangelo’s World
  • Black Cat Bone
  • The House
  • Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku (with Paul B. Janeczko)
  • The Fantastic 5&10 Cent Store
  • The World’s Greatest: Poems
  • Black Swan/White Crow
  • Once Upon a Tomb: Gravely Humorous Poems

Castles: Old Stone Poems


Trailer created by Jessica Pollock

Heroes and Sheroes; Poems of Amazing and Everyday Heroes

 Digital trailer by Amany Isa. 

The Underwear Salesman and Other Jobs For Better or Verse

Created by Chrissy Adkins (with help from her 5th grade class!)

Birds on a Wire: A Renga 'Round Town

Trailer created by Cheryl Read

Earth Verses and Water Rhymes

Trailer created by Christina Ehlig

Blackbeard: The Pirate King

Blackbeard: The Pirate King
by J. Patrick Lewis

Book Trailer by Michelle Holloway

Good Mousekeeping: And Other Animal Home Poems

Digital trailer created by David Jurecka for Good Mousekeeping: And Other Animal Home Poems.

A Burst of Firsts

A Burst of Firsts: Doers, Shakers, and Record Breakers
by J. Patrick Lewis 
Book trailer by Rebekah Espinosa- TWU SLIS

A Burst of Firsts on Youtube- better view :)

Ridicholas NIcholas: More Animal Poems


Digital Trailer by Pamela Barrett

Skywriting: Poems to Fly


Trailer created by M. Lynne Mays

Long Was the Winter Road They Traveled; A Tale of the Nativity

Long Was the Winter Road They Traveled; A Tale of the Nativity
By J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Drew Bairley
Book Trailer by Kathy G. Yale

Castles: Old Stone Poems


Digital trailer created by Marsha Helmuth

Swan Song

Readers Guide by Catherine Pendergrass

 Lewis, J. Patrick, Swan Song. Illustrated by Christopher Wormell. Manka to: Creative Editions, 2003. ISBN: 1-56846-175-5

Recommended for ages 5 and up

            Lewis provides a chronological explanation for the elimination of over twenty species in poetic form. Poems vary in form, pattern, and shape. However, the all work together to deliver the same message: we have lost so much already. These poems are accompanied by a timeline at that bottom. This timeline provides a sequence of events that were occurring at the same time the species was eliminated. The timeline makes readers aware of the impact of humans on the animal world.

Review excerpts:
            School Library Journal:
            Some are simple tributes to their subjects, and occasional wordplay or wry humor lightens the mood. Lewis favors rhyming alternate lines, often lapsing into repetitious rhythm, though he sometimes makes a welcome break into varied poetic forms. Wormell's woodcuts provide realistic portraits.

            Publishers Weekly
            Paying homage to extinct animals, Wormell's (An Alphabet of Animals ) extraordinary wood engravings for this handsomely designed, oversize volume may exceed the expectations of even his most ardent admirers.

Awards for the Book:
            ASPCA Henry Bergh Children's Book Awards

Questions to ask before reading the book:
·         What do you know about extinction?
o   Ask students this question so that you can explore what they know or need to know before you read them poems for the book.
·         What happens to animals when they are over hunted?
o   This would be a leading question if students have limited knowledge of extinction.
·         What is your favorite animal besides your pet and what role does that animal play in his or her ecosystem?
o   This question will require students to think about the animals they see each day and begin their thinking about what is lost when an animal is removed from an ecosystem
·         Think of an animal or a pet. What does the world look like from that animal's point of view?
o    Having students draw this could be impactful. This question requires students to think use creativity and to think outside of their world. It might also generate more empathy for animals in students who are less inclined to be empathetic.

Suggestions for reading poems aloud:
·         Select one poem and assign lines to students. Have each read their line out loud. Getting students involved in an oral reading increases student buy in to learning opportunites.
·         Display Wormell's drawings and/or actual photographs of the species addressed in the poem to insure that listeners understand the authenticity of the topic of the poem and book.
·         Be sure to utilize the provided timeline. Create a visual of the human impact by displaying human actions at the same time period of animal extinction.
o    If your class is studying a specific time period in history, be sure to pick the appropriate animal and discuss how the actions of humans impacted that animals extinction.

Follow up activities:
·         Have students complete internet or library research about one of the species and present it to the class in the form of a poster, pamphlet or original poem.
·         Have students research current endangered species and what can or is being done to protect or further endanger those species. Final products of this research should be in a form that can be publicized at the school or on the web, such as a poster, bulletin board, VoiceThread or posting on the school's or teacher's website.
·         Have students write a short story in which one of the extinct animals is the main character. In the story, make sure students discuss the animal's habitat and what happened to it.

Related Web sites/ blogs
To focus on animal extinction:
·         An endangered species slide show on the US Fish and Wildlife Service Kids Page titled "Endangered Means There is Still Time."
·         This website provides information about extinct species, including lists of recently extinct species and threatened species.
·         Links to recent blog posts about extinction or helping endangered species are provided as well as wildlife tracking reports form conservations sites.
·         Though this is an activist group that asks for donations, the website provides information on current endangered species and links to several blog posts.

Lesson plans and materials for teachers on endangered species:
·         The content of National Geographic's "Xpeditions Archive" lesson plans varies by grade level. The website provides a wide range of science lessons from a Kindergarten through second grade lesson titled "Fish Aren't Afraid of the Dark" to a high school lesson titled "The Human Role in Dog Evolution." Lesson plans are linked to National Science Education Standards.
·         This website provided pintables of coloring pages for younger animals learning about endangered species or extinction.
·         This lesson requires students to explore some of the reasons that animals become extinct and identify some of the things people can do to prevent endangered animals from becoming extinct.
·         This lesson plan asks students to use background knowledge and write a letter to an animal in poetic form.

Related books:
Jolivet, Joelle. Zoo-Ology. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2003. ISBN: 978-0-7613-2780-6
Elliot, David. In the Wild. Illustrated by Holly Meade. Candlewick Press, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-7636-4497-0
Sidman, Joyce. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night. Illustrated by Rick Allen. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-547-52922-6
Wormell, Christopher. An Alphabet of Animals. New York: Running Press Kids, 2006. ISBN: 978-0762427299,

The Little Buggers Insect & Spider Poems

The Little Buggers: Insect & Spider Poems
By J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Victoria Chess

A Readers’ Guide by Lisa Kreutziger
Lewis, J. Patrick. 1998. The Little Buggers: Insect and Spider Poems. Ill. by Victoria Chess. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0-8037-1769-5

Recommended Age Levels
Ages 4 to 9
Summary of Book
This collection of twenty-four poems offers an engaging and entertaining look at some of the creepiest and crawliest of Earth’s insects and spiders.  From a “lowly termite” advising kids to stop chewing their pencils, to a patient “praying mantis”, who after finally meeting her mate “ate the pesky fellow”, Lewis’s poems manage to capture some of the true nature of its subject while also delighting the audience with wit and word play.  The book includes examples of both free verse and rhyming poems that are accompanied by Victoria Chess’s wonderfully detailed and playful watercolor and Pelikan sepia artwork.

Review Excerpts
“Lewis…has keen antennae for wordplay, seeking ways to exploit types of insects by making their attributes humorous.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Grounded in careful observation that ferrets out realistic details of the insect world, his agile verse is both clever and devilishly funny…” – Publishers Weekly
“Delicate, fiendishly agile illustrations…offer a perfect complement to the tone and humor.”
– School Library Journal
Questions to Ask Before Reading
Invite children to discuss the following:
*Play on Words (author’s craft): How do author’s “play” with words? Show the cover and ask why the author chose the word “bugger” for the title.  Make the connection to multiple meaning words.
*Have you ever sat and watched an insect or spider?  What have you observed them doing?
*What are some interesting facts you know about insects or spiders? How you could make up a silly story or poem about them using that fact?
Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
“Mayfly and June Bug” – Line-Around: Ask for volunteers to take turns reading one line aloud. Practice and repeat until effective rhythm and expression are found.
“The Pond Glider” – Chorus: After adult read aloud, invite children to participate in choral reading the word “Damselfly” at the beginning of each couplet.
“In Books Are Bugs” – Groups: After adult read aloud, divide students into small groups in which they practice one particular stanza.  When ready the whole class participates in a read aloud with each group standing and reciting their stanza with appropriate cadence and feeling.
Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. Children’s Literature in Action. Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 978-1-59158-557-2
Follow Up Activities
Science: Insect Characteristics and Habitats
During “School Yard Habitat” investigation, students use observations of insects to create poems and silly stories about the insects using some of their unique characteristics and/or habitat.
Writing: Author’s Craft: Word Play and Multiple meaning words. 
Connect to familiar authors such as Shel Silverstein.  Study and display some play on words, then try creating some of your own with a partner.  Scaffolding: teacher may supply a list of words to choose from and a familiar rhythmic pattern.

Featured Poet Display/Study and Author Visit
Reading Comprehension: Compare and Contrast
Choose a related fiction or nonfiction book to due a paired book study.  Compare and contrast genre elements, content, author’s craft, author’s purpose, etc.

Related Web Sites/Blogs
The author’s web site: http://www.jpatricklewis.com/
Insect web site: http://www.insectclopedia.com/
ALA’s Great Websites for Kids “Authors and Illustrators” Page: http://www.ala.org/gwstemplate.cfm?section=greatwebsites&template=/cfapps/gws/displaysection.cfm&sec=16
Poetry website: http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/poetry/
Related Books
Cyrus, Kurt. 2001. Oddhopper Opera: A Bug’s Garden of Verses. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace. ISBN 9780152022051
Fleming, Denise. 1991. In the Tall, Tall Grass. New York: H. Holt. ISBN 9780805016352
Pinczes, Elinor J. 1995. A Remainder of One. San Diego: Harcourt Brace. ISBN 9780152013066
Monks, Lydia. 2004. Aaaarrgghh! Spider! Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618432509
Bulion, Leslie. 2006. Hey There, Stink Bug! Ill. by Leslie Evans. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781580893046
Florian, Douglas. 1998. Insectlopedia: Poems and Paintings. San Diego: Harcourt Brace. ISBN 9780152013066
Markle, Sandra. 2009. Insects: Biggest! Littlest! Honesdale, Pa.: Boyds Mills Press. ISBN 9781590785126
Slade, Suzanne. 2009. Insects: Six Legged Animals. Ill. by Rosiland Solomon. Minneapolis, Minn.: Capstone Press Inc. ISBN 9781404855243
Tait, Noel. 2008. Insects and Spiders. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN 9781416938682

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Bookworm's Feast

The Bookworm’s Feast: A Potluck of Poems

Reader's Guide by Christi McCarty

Bibliographic Information
Lewis, Patrick. 1999. The Bookworm’s Feast: A Potluck of Poems. By: John O’Brien. New York, N.Y. Dial Books for Young Readers.

Recommended Age Levels
Ages 4-8

Summary of Book
This outstanding anthology of verses and rhymes is served in outrageous proportions of appetizers, sherbets, entrees, side dishes, and desserts galore. Bookworms follow the flow of a menu format, enjoying their feast from beginning to end. Bookworms will find themselves carefully chewing on tongue twisters, puns and alliteration galore, appeasing the appetites of bookworms once more. Bookworms take pleasure in choosing from sweet or savory poems or rhymes about mellow armadillo, a HER-I-CANE name Lorelei, a peanut butter eating boy, or an alphabet gang. The Gentleman Bookworm makes a toast at the beginning of the feast saying, "Chew them slowly. One line at a time" and ends with, “Now remember, It’s especially wise to combine excursive, With a bowlful of poetry snacks!” The menu offers intriguing and luring depictions of literature as dishes enticing every bookworm into an eating frenzy. With cross-hatched pen and watercolor drawings covering corner to corner, this book provides humor and originality from page to page.

Review Excerpts 
Publisher Weekly - “A five-star feast.” A "Gentleman Bookworm" invites his friends to a feast of " 'ridiculous rhyme!/ But might I suggest?'/ Said the host to the guest,/ 'Chew them slowly. One line at a time!”

School Library Journal - “A smorgasbord of poetic forms and moods. Arranged in sections like a formal menu ("Appetizers" to "Desserts"), the book contains poems for nearly any taste.”

Kirkus - “Lewis has created an almanac of words at play, using tongue-twisters, puns, alliteration, and many forms and fancies of rhyme scheme in an unabashed celebration of language.”

The Horn Book - “It's not often that such elegantly clever poetry leads to delighted smiles and even full-out belly laughs. When it does, it's truly cause for celebration!”

Questions to Ask before Reading Book
Question 1: Are Bookworms real bugs or are they fictional characters?
Question 2: Who is the author of this book? Who is the illustrator of this book? What does each person contribute to this book?
Question 3: How do the illustrations make you feel? Do they make you feel excited to read or bored and ready for the next activity?
Question 4: What types of poetry/rhymes could be presented in this book?
Question 5: Can you tell what the book is about from the title or the cover of the book?

Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
      1. Read poems out loud in class that children will thoroughly enjoy.
      2. Try to find poems to which each child can relate, providing a meaningful literature experience.
      3. Make sure every child can see the illustrations, if they are available.
      4. Read the poems and images beforehand. The more you understand the poem, the more your audience will understand it.
      5. Look up any unfamiliar words in the dictionary for their meaning and pronunciation, for easy explanation.

Strategies for reading the poems in the book
      1. “Heavy Metal Fellow”- Have four students volunteer to read one line in each verse.
Verse 1 Verse 2
Student 1: Milo Armadillo Student 1: Though he’ll seldom follow
Student 2: Heavy metal fellow, Student 2: Fellows up a hill-o
Student 3: Lives beside a hollow Student 3: Milo likes to wallow
Student 4: West of Amarillo. Student 4: Underneath a willow.
Verse 3
Student 1: If you holler, “HELLO,
Student 3: Don’t expect a bellow
Student 4: Milo’

      2. “The Framboise Fair”- Have two female students volunteer to read the poem. The first student will read the daughter's verses, the second student will read the mother's verses.
      3. “Autograph Verse”- As a group read this poem out loud. Have students start the first verse squatting, second verse standing, third verse squatting, and fourth verse standing.
Verse 1: Rain lets you down (Squat)
Verse 2: Sun lifts you up (Stand)
Verse 3: Because you are (Squat)
Verse 4: My butter-cup (Stand)
You could also split the class in half, having have each set of students alternate verse.
Verse 1: (Group 1) Squatting
Verse 2: (Group 2) Standing
Verse 3: (Group 2) Squatting
Verse 4: (Group 1) Standing
Follow Up Activities

Activity 1: (Art) ~Bookworm Book Marks~
Patrick Lewis uses a bookworm as his main character in The Bookworm’s Feast: A Potluck of Poems. Children will have fun creating their very own book mark bookworm that will help them keep their place when they read their favorite books and poems.

Crayons, Markers, Construction Paper, glue, colored yarn, google eyes, stickers, glitter, puff paint, really any art supplies you can find.

Activity 2: (Literature/Drama/Geography) ~Poetry Theater~

Have students perform their favorite selected poem from The Bookworm’s Feast: A Potluck of Poems. This is a great way for students to interact with one another in a collaborative group, which supports team work.

Presentation Suggestions: Have the students read or perform the poem in front of the class. Have the students act out the different lines while they read them.

Props: Have students bring an articles of clothing from home (with permission from parents) to add to the pile of silly clothing. Students will need specific clothes such as blue jeans, a red bandanna, duck shoes (shoes decorated with ducks or yellow shoes) and a rain jacket, but everyone can contribute to the props.

Split students into four groups before performing the theater. Have students draw the states of Louisiana, Maine, Texas, and Vermont on butcher paper to illustrate the states that are mentioned in the poems. Have the students write important facts about each state on each piece of butcher paper.

Delivery: Have students attempt to read the lines of the poem with poetic rhythm. Practicing beforehand would be a plus. Let children volunteer to perform, don’t make students perform if they don’t wish to. We don’t want students' experiences with poetry to be negative.

Student 1
Student 2
Student 3
Student 4

“What to Wear Where”
Student 1:
When I was a boy
In Looziana,
We wore blue jeans
And a red bandanna.

Student 2:
Folks moved up
To the state of Maine,
We wore duck shoes
In slicker-suit rain.

Student 3:
Folks moved down
To the state of Texas,
We wore brand names, Like Lazy X’s.

Student 4:
Now that we’re living
It up in Vermont,
We wear pretty much
Whatever we want.
Activity 3: (Science/Language Arts) ~Sensory Poems~

Grades: 5-8

Patrick Lewis’s poetry book, The Bookworm's Feast: A Potluck of Poems, focuses on the reader’s sense of taste. In Activity 3 students practice writing poetry using words related to the five senses.

Touching Hand Poems
Recreate on paper or the chalkboard a hand poem (see example). Read the poem with the students. Provide each student with a sheet of white construction paper or index paper. Have the students trace their hands on the construction paper with their fingers wide apart. Ask students to think of something special that their hands do such as wave “hello” in friendship, paint a beautiful picture, help them to climb a tree or play a sport, etc. Next, have each student write a poem about his or her hand around the inside edges of the hand outline. Cut out the hand shapes. Display the hand poems along a classroom wall so that one hand touches another to form a border of “Touching Hand Poems.”

Inside, Outside Sense Poems.
Find a few poems that are rich in perceptual detail. After you read the poems to the class, have students discuss how each sense is used in the poems. Ask students to write poems based on their senses, using as the subject things that they hear, smell, taste, touch, and see inside the classroom, house, etc. Use the following “Inside Poem” example to demonstrate a sense poem.

Inside Poem
Inside, I hear the thud of my brother’s feet.
Inside, the smell of pizza floats across my desk.
Inside, I taste the sweetness of my gum.
Inside, I run my hand across my paper.
Inside, I see my mother going down the hall.

Read the poem and discuss how a different sense is introduced on each line. Have students write a few inside poems. Challenge them to write the poem without using the words “see,” “hear,” “feel,” “touch,” “taste,” or “smell.” When students have written inside poems, ask them to write outside poems, which express the use of their senses in an outdoor environment. Assemble the students’ sense poems into a class book.

Printable version of this Activity can be found at: http://www.teachervision.fen.com/tv/printables/TCR/1557342350_38.pdf

Activity 4: (Writing Activity) ~Letters to Friends~
Have students write a letter to a friend like in the “Postcard Poem” in The Bookworm's Feast: A Potluck of Poems. Students can place the letters on their friend’s desks or in their cubbies when they have completed them.

If there is a student who doesn’t get a letter from a friend, the teacher could make them feel extra special by writing them a special letter and putting it in their cubby or on their desk. You could also assign partners to prevent anyone from getting their feeling hurt.

Related Websites

http://www.jpatricklewis.com J. Patrick Lewis' personal website:
http://www.rebeccakaidotlich.com/ -Here you'll find Rebecca Kai Dotlich's warm and evocative poems for the young.
http://www.poetry4kids.com -The children's poet Kenn Nesbitt provides both a service and a treat for anyone interested in kids' poetry.
http://www.fizzyfunnyfuzzy.com -Don't miss the fractured mind of Gareth Lancaster.
http://www.janeyolen.com - Jane Yolen, children's author extraordinaire, offers a beautiful, useful and "well-lighted place."
http://www.gigglepoetry.com/ - Award winning poetry website for children.

Related Books
Other Collections by: J. Patrick Lewis
Lewis, Patrick. 2002. Doodle Dandies: Poems That Take Shape. By: Lisa Desimini. New York. Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Lewis, Patrick. 2005. Heroes and She-Roes: Poems of Amazing and Everyday Heroes. By: Jack Cooke. New York. Dial
Lewis, Patrick. 2008. The World’s Greatest: Poems. By: Keith Graves. California. Chronicle Books

Fictional Collections of Poetry focusing on Dinosaurs
Frost, John. 1998. Dragons, Dinosaurs, Monster Poems. By: Korky Paul. New York Oxford Press.
Frost, John. 2004. Dinosaur Poems. By: Korky Paul. New York. Oxford Press. 

Florian, Douglas. 2009. Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Painting. California. Bench Lane Books.
Fictional Collections of Poetry about Weather Patterns

Frank, John. 2003. A Chill in the Air: Nature Poems for Fall and Winter. New York. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. 

Salas Laura. 2008. Seed Sower, Hat Thrower: Poems about Weather. Minnesota. Capstone Press. 

Kennedy, Dorothy. 1998. Make Things Fly: Poems about the Wind. By: Sasha Meret. New York. Margaret K. McElderry.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Brothers' War: The War Voices in Verse

The Brothers' War: Civil War Voices in Verse
By J. Patrick Lewis
Featuring the Work of Civil War Photographers
Readers Guide
By Janelle Iley

Lewis, J. Patrick. The Brothers' War: Civil War Voices in Verse. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2007. ISBN: 9781426300363

Recommended Age Levels
This book is recommended for ages 12 and up.

Summary of Book
This book is a collection of poems about the different slaves and soldiers who were impacted by the Civil War, either by fighting in it, or by having friends or family members involved in the war. Their thoughts and feelings are captured through these writings that are in the form of free verse or rhyming poems and are displayed as poetry, letters, or songs. Throughout the book, the reader is able to capture the emotions of those who were affected by the Civil War and learn what the war cost them, especially those who lived during that time period, and learn how it still affects us today.

Review Excerpts
John Peters (Booklist, Dec. 15, 2007 (Vol. 104, No. 8)
If war is nothing more than lists of battles / Then human lives count less than saber rattles.” Written mostly in the voices of fictional and historical participants, these 11 poems are not so much narratives as cries of pain, fear, confusion, or release. Each is paired with a large, captioned period photograph—of a young soldier posing, of a slave’s scarred back, of bodies on a battlefield, of an armless veteran—and accompanied by a brief explanatory passage drawn from one of several sources. Along with back matter that includes a map, a time line, and an editorial note about photographer Matthew Brady and his followers, Lewis provides lengthy notes on his poems’ forms and inspirations. The educational content is useful for context, but the powerful words and pictures transcend their particular circumstances and will linger with readers. Grades 6-9

Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature)
With the lines, “If war is nothing more than lists of battles/ Then human lives count less than saber rattles,” Lewis leads the reader to his poetic tales of those affected by the American Civil War. The poems take the reader chronologically through the war. The image of a slave picking cotton recalls the major reason for the war. Within the poems are names of notables, such as Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and William Tecumseh Sherman. There are also fictional names of ordinary people, such as Roy Pugh, the Rebel son, who was shot by his Yankee sergeant father at the First Battle of Bull Run. Two of the poems are presented as letters between father and son and express parental concern and the fears of a prisoner of war. The grim reminder of the cost of war is in the final solemn, cadenced poem, “Passing in Review.” Great care was taken in the layout of this book. Almost every poem is accompanied by a photograph from the war and an informative caption. This is a superb way for older children and teens to be introduced to the Civil War. It also brings a deeper depth of understanding of the time period, the long-felt effects of that war, and the concept of war in general. An informative map of the United States in the years 1861--1865 is accompanied by a time line. Lewis describes his approach to this collection and each poem in the back of the book. An explanation of Matthew Brady’s studios, camera equipment, and the difficulties of taking of photographs is included as well. This book should be in every middle school, high school, and public library. It is an important addition to the Civil War collection of books. 2007, National Geographic Society, $17.95. Ages 12 to 18.

Anitra Gordon (Library Media Connection, February 2008)
These 11 original poems provide a fresh approach to studying the Civil War, one that students could continue by writing their own poems or news items based on events of the war. The short poems representing both sides cover topics such as slavery, cotton, specific battles, wounded soldiers, and letters to and from home. Most poems face a photo by Civil War photographer Matthew Brady that includes an informative paragraph about the subject of the poem. Notes on the photography, the author's notes on the poems, a map of the states in the Civil War, and a selective time line round out this informative, attractive book. Material on the Civil War can be overwhelming, yet this book extracts the essence of the war, the emotions felt by the imagined writers, and allows students to go on from there. Recommended. 2007, National Geographic Society, 48pp., $17.95 hc.. Ages 9 to 14.

Awards/Honors Received
*Winner 2008 NCSS/CBC Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
*Winner 2008 IRA Teachers' Choices
*Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition Supplement 2008, 2008; H.W. Wilson Company
*Pure Poetry, 2007; Voice of Youth Advocates
*School Library Journal Book Review Stars, January 2008; Cahners
*Teachers' Choices, 2008; International Reading Association

Questions to Ask Before Reading

Invite the students to discuss the following questions before reading aloud The Brothers' War: Civil War Voices in Verse:
*What do you think the title The Brothers' War is about, based on the title and cover of the book?
*Do you have any ideas as to what happened during the Civil War?
*How do you think the history of the Civil War impacts our country today? What has changed since that time period?
*What do you think we can learn about war from this book and the people who fought in it?

Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
*“Down On the Plantation” – The teacher should read the poem aloud, and then the whole class should also read it aloud. After practicing reading the poem two or three times, the teacher should introduce actions with this poem. Actions should be used in accordance with the words: stoop, chop, scoop, dark, bent, and question mark. Every time these words are said, the students should act them out while saying them. Students will be able to imagine the lives of the slaves and fully understand what the words mean in the poem.

*“The Raider” – As a teacher, read the whole poem to the students while they are following along. Then, break up the stanzas and have the class alternate with you when reading it, again. Have the whole class read the second and fourth stanzas aloud, while you read the other stanzas aloud to them. By reading the poem like this, the students will understand the rhythm of it and be able to comprehend the feelings of the character's voice in the poem, which is supposed to be the voice of John Brown.

*“Blood of Our Fathers, Blood of Our Sons” – This poem has a lot of important details, so the teacher should read the whole poem aloud, and then, read it, again, repeating the lines 1, 4, 7, 11, and 14 twice. The third time the teacher begins to read he/she should have one student say each of the lines previously mentioned and repeat them twice as well. This will be important for students, since they need to be able to visualize what the poet is saying. By having one of them repeat some of the lines from the poem, the students will be able to imagine the emotions that were felt by the soldiers fighting in the war. They will especially understand the emotions of those who were fighting against their families. A similar method should be used in reading the following poems: “Boys in a Brothers' War” and “White Nightmare,” since these two poems also have a lot of strong visual imagery displayed and also depict people's lives affected by the war.

*“I am Fast in My Chains” – This poem is about Frederick Douglas. In order to gain another insight into the poem, the poem should be read aloud to the whole class while they are following along. Then, it should be read backward from bottom to top, with the students following along, again. The students will learn that poetry can be changed around, and they will also learn how it can develop different meanings, but still make sense.

*“Nathaniel Gwinnett-Shrapnel Wound” – Read aloud the whole poem, and then, have the whole class say every other line aloud as a group, starting with the first line and end by saying the last two lines together. Students will be able to hear the rhythm in the poem by saying every other line. A similar method should be used in reading some of the other poems: “Letters from Home,” “Letter Home,” “I Can Make Georgia Howl,” and “Passing in Review.”

Follow Up Activities

*This book has free verse and rhyming poems. As a class, identify the characteristics of each type of poem and have the students identify the poems in the book. Then, have students practice writing free verse and rhyming poems.

*Letters were also written in free verse in this book between a father who was at home and a son who was a soldier in the Civil War. Introduce students to letter writing and have them practice writing letters.

*Identify some figurative language that were used in the book. Afterward, have students practice writing using figurative language on their own.

*A lot of dates were used in the book to help the readers keep track of events. In order to practice some math skills, have students figure out how much time had passed between each entry in the book.

*Collaborate with a social studies class and have students research the overall population of the United States at the time just before the Civil War, and then, have them find out how many lives were lost in the war. After finding this information, have students create charts to compare the population before and after the Civil War.

*Introduce estimation, percentage, area, and measurement to the class. Use this book of poetry to help students practice understanding these concepts by having them estimate how long the war lasted, calculate the percentage of lives lost in the war, figure the area of one of the states, and measure the distance between Texas and Maryland and calculate the miles.

Photography is an important aspect in this book of poetry. Through the use of photography students are able to gain a visual understanding of the lives of soldiers and their families during the Civil War. Because of this gained understanding, students should identify some of the physical characteristics of people living in the Civil War era.

*Black and white photo images were used in this book. Discuss with students why the author used these images alongside the poems, rather than illustrations. Determine the author's purpose in using them and why it was important.

*Since photography was invented, stories have been told through pictures. Identify some major political figures in the Iraq War today, and have students find pictures to help create a story similar to The Brothers' War: Civil War in Verse.

*Since the book mentioned a lot about soldiers' wounds and deaths, students should do a research activity on medicines used during the Civil War. They should be able to answer the questions about the type of medications that were used, how often they were used, the purposes in using them, and how they were or weren't effective.

*Students should compare and contrast the medical practices used to save soldiers during the Civil War vs. now. They should make presentations in class and be able to identify the similarities and differences between then and now.

*New technologies and scientific discoveries were being made available during the Civil War time period. Since there were so many advances made, have students research the weapons and technologies that were available during the Civil War era.

Social Studies
*This book is about the Civil War, so students should go to the library and research important political figures or battles from the Civil War, such as: Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Frederick Douglas, John Brown, Battle of Bull Run, Battle of Shiloh, Battle of Gettysburg. Students should be divided into groups to work on projects and make presentations on these political figures or battles.

*Students should research the events of the Civil War. During class, each student should create a time line of the events that took place during the Civil War.

*Divide students into three groups. Give each group a specific state, such as: Kansas, Missouri, or Arkansas and have them research that state's involvement in the Civil War. Afterward, they should share their findings with the class.

Related Websites/Blogs
*J. Patrick Lewis' Website
[Learn about the author and some of the other books he has written. Look at information on speaking engagements, future books, and other educational links.]

*Civil War
“[Find information on battles, weapons, abolition and slavery, and people who fought in the Civil War. All of this information can be found on the website.]

*Google Lit Trips Website/Blog
[Explore some of the places that were mentioned in the book on this website.]
*History: American Civil War
[Interactive tools, information, videos, and resources for use in the classroom are all made available on this website.]

Related Books

Other Poetry
*Bauer, Patricia. B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet. Ill. by David Geister. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2009.
*Martell, Charles. A Man of Ampurdan: Grandfather's Spanish Civil War Poems. United States: CreateSpace, 2011.
*Negri, Paul. Civil War Poetry (Dover Thrift Editions). Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997.
*Shange, Ntozake. Freedom's a-Callin Me. Ill. by Rod Brown. New York: Amistad, 2012.

Related Nonfiction
*Herbert, Janis. The Civil War for Kids: A History with 21 Activities (For Kids series). Chicago: Chicago Review Press, Inc., 1999.
*McPherson, James M. Fields of Fury: The American Civil War. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002.
*Murphy, Jim. The Boys' War: Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk About the Civil War. New York: Clarion Books, 1990.
*Ray, Delia. Behind the Blue and Gray: The Soldier's Life in the Civil War
(Young Reader's Hist- Civil War). New York: Puffin Books, 1996.

Related Fiction
*Noble, Trinka Hakes. The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale (Tale of Young Americans). Ill. by Robert Papp. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2006.
*Osborne, Mary Pope. Civil War On Sunday (Magic Tree House #21). Ill. by Sal Murdocca. New York: Random House, Inc., 2000.
*Ratliff, Thomas, and David Salariya. You Wouldn't Want to Be a Civil War Soldier: A War You'd Rather Not Fight. Ill. by David Antram. Danbury, CT: Franklin Watts, 2004.
*Whelan, Gloria. Friend on Freedom River (Tales of Young Americans). Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2004.

Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year

Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year 
By J. Patrick Lewis 
Illustrated by Ethan Long 
Readers Guide 
By Karen Tassone
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. COUNTDOWN TO SUMMER: A POEM FOR EVERY DAY OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. Ill. by Ethan Long. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-02089-3
Recommended Age Levels 8-14
Summary of Book
In this entertaining collection of one hundred-eighty poems, mixed forms of poetry are used to entertain the reader. Rhyming and figurative language are creatively transposed to feature poems that relate to school and the typical holidays that happen during a school year.  The number of poems included in this collection is intended to follow a classic school calendar year, thus happening upon the holiday themed poems that are in sync around the actual holiday.  The centrifugal idea behind this book is for the classroom teacher to share one poem a day by reading it aloud to students.  When the book is finished, the school year should be finished. Students will enjoy listening and hearing words like “underwear, burps, and toilet” that are incorporated into the silly humor.  Lewis’ book is truly a fun and creative choice to use in teaching literary concepts throughout the year.  
Review Excerpts
The collection contains a good variety of styles; the themes and subjects will please elementary-age children. Illustrations are light-hearted and match the tone of the poems. Library Media Connection
These one-hundred eighty poems cover everything from school librarians to the tooth fairy to holidays across the religious spectrum. Though the bold line drawings are purely humorous, some of the limericks, cinquains, and acrostics include musings about loneliness, Hurricane Katrina, and other serious subjects. Verses ranging from effectively pithy to undistinguished give a broad picture of what poetry can be. -Horn Book 
As a no-pressure, just-for-poetry's-sake tool to start the day in the classroom, it could be a teacher's best friend.  Kirkus Reviews

The book counts down from 180 days of school left to one day left. The poems focus on a variety of topics, from Bigfoot to toilet inspectors, principals to the Kentucky Derby. There are also a number of poem types, useful for teachers interested in using this book on a regular basis to entertain and to educate. One of my favorite uses of Haiku was found on day fifty-seven, entitled “Country Haik-lues.” In this section, a haiku provides a clue as to the country it describes; for example, “Where everybody/wears a caste, curries favor,/and favors curry.” Limericks, riddles, shape poems, free verse, and nonsense verse are also found throughout. Illustrations for the various poems are done in pencil on paper and are consistently detailed and humorous. This is a fun book that could suit a number of classroom purposes. -Children’s Literature

Cartoon illustrations keep the mood light and breezy. This collection may be most appreciated by teachers, who'll find it an appealing and accessible introduction to whimsical wordplay. -School Library Journal

Awards/Honors Received

*2011 NCTE Poetry Award Winner


Questions to Ask Before Reading

Invite the children to discuss the following before ever showing the book cover of Countdown to Summer: A Poem For Every Day of the School Year.


*Think back to your very first day of school when you started kindergarten.  Can anyone describe how they were feeling and why?  Were you scared, excited, nervous, or sad? What was it like to start school this year? Will it feel different as a student when you leave elementary school and move to intermediate school?  Are there advantages for being the youngest or oldest student group at school?


*Since you have been in school for several years now, let’s talk about what typical holidays happen during the duration of the school year.  Who can tell me anything they know about the month of September? October? November? December? January? February? March? April? May?


*Let’s switch gears and now I’d like for you to tell me what you know about the genre, poetry?  Are there different kinds?  Do they follow a certain format?  Do they entail various kinds of figurative language?

Suggestions for Reading Poems Aloud
*Using poem #146 “In a Book I Once Read the Chicken’s Song” have the girls read the odd numbered lines aloud, leaving the boys the even numbered lines in parenthesis to respond back. 

*Have students echo read after the teacher reads each line of #156 “Weather in a Word:  Still.”

*Assign each student a different letter of the alphabet to stand up and read aloud using #174 “The Librarian.”

*Pair students as a single boy and girl in each group, and have pairs take turns reading #30” Autograph Verses.”  In each line, one person reads the first half of the sentence up to the comma, and then the other person finishes reading what is left behind the comma.

Follow Up Activities
*Use the link http://www.poetry4kids.com/blog/video/how-to-rhyme/ to listen to a video of Kenn Nesbitt explaining how to write poetry, use rhyming words and where to fit them into the poem.  After viewing the short “how to” video, continue to scroll down on the website and listen to the animated videos that Nesbitt has created with some of his poems.  Afterwards, students can create their own funny poems demonstrating the proper usage with rhyming words.
*Take a funny poem that rhymes and white-out corresponding rhyme words to create a fill in the blank kind of poem where students must think of their own rhyming word that fits into the poem.
*Use the link http://www.proteacher.com/redirect.php?goto=3829 to follow a webquest that familiarizes students with author and poet Jack Prelutsky as he teaches the thought process behind writing a poem.  Students will ultimately try their own hand at writing a poem and will have the opportunity to publish it Online.

* After reading poem #48 “Lost in Austin,” students will brainstorm in small groups how we could figure out the distance between Austin and Boston 
*After reading poem #79 “Mr. Mack Celebrates the 100th Day of School,” tell students to make lists in categories of things that weigh about 100 pounds, things that have about 100 calories of energy in them, various money groupings to make 100 cents, and packages of items that might have about 100. 
*After reading poem #1 “School’s Out!” have students independently write down as many was as they can think of to make 180 using addition and multiplication.

*Using the link http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/02/how-to-go-green-back-to-school.php to dig into the concept of “Going Green at Back to School Time.”  This site will challenge students to change wasteful thoughts and become more respectful to the environment which include ideas for saving and conserving year round to make it a habit.
*After reading #78 “Good-bye to an Architect,” assign students a different dinosaur to research and share facts about.
*Demonstrate using models how the Earth, Sun and Moon work together to create day and night.  Do this after reading #31 “If the Earth Bumps the Moon.”

Social Studies
*After reading the first poem #180 “A Sixth Grader Sees the Future,” discuss the expectations for the school year by going over homework expectations, absences, manners, respecting the environment, etc.
*After reading poem #64 “Civil War Couplets,” have students research to find out what caused the Civil War, how the United States was effected before and after.
*After reading #7 “The White House,” students can pick a president to research.

*Make an illustrated time line to help keep tabs on the progression of the school year.
*Create postcards that feature landmarks unique to your state after reading #18 “Postcard.”
*Complete a crayon-resist project after reading #27 “Leaving Small Town America.”

Related Web Sites
Poetry Teachers
(Check out this website to learn how to teach poetry in your classroom using funny poems.)

Pro Teacher Collection
(Look at this huge educational website created by teachers for teachers.  It’s a solid site for gaining new ideas to try in your classroom as well as share your own ideas. The genre of poetry is well covered.)

Net Rover
(Explore this website and introduce students to the interactive kid-friendly templates for creating acrostic and shape poems, rhyming couplets, noisy poems, and rhyming word games.)

(Download the educator’s guide to the featured book, Count Down to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year, and receive useful tips for using language in many ways found in this book collection of poetry.)

Kids Health
(This is a user friendly website that discusses the social, emotional and physical aspects that kids face in beginning a new school year.)

(This site contains resources and tips for parents and educators in preparing for the new school year.)

Author Website
(Take a peek at author J. Patrick Lewis on his website.  Locate his gallery of pictures and his Question and Answer area to take a deeper glimpse on this author.  Also, view his schedule for “Author” visits.)

Related Books
Fiction Children’s Literature
Clements, Andrew. 2009. Extra Credit. Ill. by Mark Elliott. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Fleischman, Paul. 2009. The Dunderheads. Ill. by David Roberts. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

Krosoczka, Jarrett J. 2009. Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Publishers.

Nonfiction Children’s Literature
Prelutsky, Jack. 2008. Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem. New York: Greenwillow Books.

Seuling, Barbara. 2008. One President Was Born on Independence Day: And Other Freaky Facts About the 26th Through 43rd Presidents. Ill. by Matthew  Skeens. Minneapolis, MN: Picture Window Books.

Winter, Jeanette. 2009. Nasreen's Secret School : A True Story From Afghanistan. New York: Beach Lane Books

Poetry Related to School, Holidays, and Fun
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2005. Days to Celebrate : A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More. Ill. by Stephen Alcorn. New York: Greenwillow Books.

Nesbitt, Kenn. 2007. Revenge of the Lunch Ladies: The Hilarious Book of School Poetry. Ill. by Mike and Carl Gordon. Minnetonka, MN: Meadowbrook Press.

Prelutsky, Jack. 1984. The New Kid on the Block: Poems Ill. by James Stevenson. New York: Greenwillow Books.

About the Author
J. Patrick Lewis is a prolific writer of children's picture books and poetry books, including Tulip at the Bat, The Bookworm's Feast, Blackbeard: The Pirate King, and The Last Resort.  He lives in Westerville, Ohio. His website is www.jpatricklewis.com. 

About the Illustrator
Ethan Long is the author and illustrator of Tickle the Duck, Stop Kissing Me! and Duck's Not Afraid of the Dark and has illustrated a number of other children's books. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida and his website is www.ethanlong.com.