Children’s Poet Laureate Monthly Book Picks

Each month, the Children’s Poet Laureate recommends a book of poetry for children. Selections include classics of children’s literature, adult collections that are well-suited to children, as well as newly published books.

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems

Kenn Nesbitt’s July 2014 Book Pick

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems


Candlewick Press March 2014

Poetry is often described as “condensed language.” That is, a poem can pack a lot of meaning, imagery, or emotion into a compact space through economy of word choice, symbolism, metaphor, and other poetic devices.  Often, a poet can evoke a powerful feeling or image with only a few lines. In Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems, Paul Janeczko has brought together 36 such short, powerful poems in a single remarkable collection.

The poems in Firefly July, none more than 10 lines long, are organized by season, beginning with spring, and written by a wide range of both children’s and adult poets (though all of the selections are perfect for kids). This picture-book sized anthology contains a handful of classics by authors such as Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, and Robert Frost, as well as a good selection of verses by some of today’s best children’s poets, including Joyce Sidman and former Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, who penned the title poem.

The brevity of the poems in this collection are complimented by large, colorful paintings by Melissa Sweet, whose expressive work gives each short verse a context of place and time. Sweet’s paintings enhance the emotional impact of the text and give the reader a chance to explore the visuals while absorbing each poem slowly, like chocolate melting on the tongue.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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