Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Behind the Books: Science Poetry for Kids

Think science and poetry don’t go together? Think again. There are some wonderful science-themed true poetry books for kids from pros like Joyce Sidman to wonderfully lyrical, poetic texts by April Pulley Sayre. For the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing some of my favorites.

The first book, the Newberry-award winner Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman, was published back when I was in college. A wonderful librarian in Acton, MA, introduced me to the collection of poems in two voices several years ago. It’s a wonderful way to inspire upper elementary and middle school students.

A more recent favorite is Volcano Wakes Up! by Lisa Westberg (illus Steve Jenkins). This collection of pomes are written from five points of view—the volcano, ferns, lava crickets, a road, and the sun/moon. Each “voice” is represented by a different style of poem. For example, the volcano’s thoughts are always presented to us as shape poems. Here’s an example:

                      Hey! It’s a little
                     quiet around here.
              It’s time to kick up a lot of
      dust and ash, time to shake the ground
And make a big stink. Watch this, everybody!

A brand new book I’m excited about is At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocan Critter Poems by Leslie Bulion (illus. by Leslie Evans). It was just released and it does indeed feature some strange and starting sea creatures. Here’s the poem I like best:

Invasion of the Bone Eaters
Osedax, the legless worm,
Lands on whale-fall, digs in firm,
Eyeless, mouthless, gills like plumes,
Bone-devouring zombie blooms.

Osedax, the gutless wonder,
Egg sac blob and roots down under.
Dines with help of fat bacteria,
At the whalebone cafeteria.

I’ve read a lot about the recently discovered Osedax. It’s a truly fascinating creature, and the author really captures its wonder and mystery in a fun poem that’s full of little surprises.

I'll share some more of my favorites next week. Stay tuned.


  1. JOYFUL NOISE is one of my favorites, too, Melissa! The first time I did a school science poetry workshop two fourth graders discovered it in my poetry stash, then sat on the carpet for hours with their heads together creating their own poem for two voices (and I have mine in the collection, too)! I can't wait to read VOLCANO. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi, one of my new favorites is my crit partner's book, Through Endangered Eyes by Rachel Allen Dillon. Fantastic combination of art and poetry.

    I write nature poetry, too, but haven't gotten any published yet.

  3. I also love Leslie Bulion's HEY THERE, STINKBUG!

  4. Me too! I'm going to post even more of my favorites next week.