I'm leaving for Montreal this morning so I won't be around to post for Poetry Friday. Since I've been receiving lots
of visits to my Going Back to School...with Poetry
post, I thought I'd write a review of the following book.
SCHOOL SUPPLIES: A BOOK OF POEMS
Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by Renee Fowler
Simon & Schuster, 1996
School Supplies is one of my favorite books of school poems. Lee Bennett Hopkins, the compiler, included poems and excerpts of poems by Carl Sandburg and by such well-known and respected children’s poets as Barbara Juster Esbensen, Myra Cohn Livingston, Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, and Georgia Heard in this themed anthology.
Most of the book’s sixteen poems speak of the “school supplies” that are typically found in a classroom: pencils, a writer’s notebook, a ballpoint pen, paper clips, a compass, a globe, popsicle sticks and glue, a book, and crayons. There is variety in the poetry. Some poems are rhythmic and rhyming; some poems do not rhyme and are written in free verse.
A few of the poems have good examples of personification. In Lawrence Schimel’s Ballpoint Pen, the pen dances ballet/on the ball of her feet/and the tip of her toes/pirouettes/through stories/poems/books. Georgia Heard’s Compass is compared to a skater gracefully/tracing/half a figure eight/on paper ice—its silver skirt measuring out inches. Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s Paper Clips have tiny teeth of tin and jaws no bigger than an inch.
In Crayons, Jane Yolen writes of a box that contains a wash of blue sky/spikes of green spring/a circle of yellow sun. It also holds my pink/and your chocolate/and her burnt sienna/and his ivory skin. In New Notebook, Judith Thurman writes that the notebook’s lines run even and fine/like telephone wires across a shadowy landscape.
Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s poem Classroom Globe begins like this:
a swirl of blue,
a whirl of brown;
Myra Cohn Livington’s A Book is a mask poem in which a book tells readers:
Closed there’s nothing I can say.
Open, we can dream and stray
to other lands far and away.
Renee Flower’s wildly colored expressionistic art provides humor and zest—and also adds personality to many of the school supplies, including the ballpoint pen, the compass, a pencil sharpener…and even to a peanut butter sandwich!
School Supplies supplies a teacher with a neat little package of school-themed poetry. Even though the anthology is light-hearted in nature, it contains poems with more poetic elements—personification, metaphor, imagery—than most books of school poems.
Classroom Connection: School Supplies could be used to spark a creative writing exercise about objects in a classroom/school. A teacher and his/her students could make a list of objects to write poems about: pencils, books, folders, scissors, rulers, a desk, a chair, computer, paint brushes, a pencil sharpener, water bubbler, school bus, classroom clock, number lines, alphabet cards, markers, chalk, erasers, etc. It might be fun to have the students speak in the voices of the objects in mask poems. Students could illustrate their published poems and compile them in their own anthology of "School Supplies."