Friday, August 29, 2008

Hamsters, Shells, and Spelling Bees: School Poems

In recent weeks, lots of people have found their way to Wild Rose Reader searching for “back to school” poems.” I have included the links to the following Wild Rose Reader posts from last August and September that have had frequent visitors:

Poetry Friday: Going Back to School with Poetry

Hamster, Shells, and Spelling Bees:
School Poems

Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa
HarperCollins, 2008

I thought I’d also write a review of Hamsters, Shells, and Spelling Bees: School Poems, a new I Can Read anthology edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins that elementary teachers may want to add to their classroom collections. This slim volume contains twenty poems about all manner of school-related topics from the school bus driver and teacher, library and art class, show and tell and preparing for a school play--to looking through a microscope, listening to a teacher read aloud, having the measles, and making maps in the classroom.

The anthology opens with a short poem entitled Ready.

by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Stars sleep as I wake
to this brand-new school day

It ends with Linda Kulp’s True Love, a poem about a child returning home from school at the end of the day to be welcomed by her purring cat. You can read Linda’s poem here at her blog Write Time.

The poems included in Hamsters, Shells, and Spelling Bees are short and easy to read. In addition to Dotlich, the authors of the poems include such well-known children’s poets as J. Patrick Lewis, Jane Yolen, Alice Schertle, and Lee Bennett Hopkins. There are also poems by less familiar writers.

Jane Yolen’s poem Maps would be an excellent one to share with students before embarking on a map-making unit. Here’s how the poem begins:

From Maps
by Jane Yolen

We are making maps:
maps of our classroom,
maps of our school,
maps of our town.
We let our fingers walk
the straight lines
from window to door,
down hallways
that gently curve,
along town streets…

Here’s a haiku that would be good to read to students before a poetry-writing activity. It was written by Alice Schertle, one of my favorite children’s poets.

by Alice Schertle

Pencil stub, I must
ask myself: How many more
poems are in you?

Hamsters, Shells, and Spelling Bees hits the mark for an I Can Read anthology of poems about school for young children. It has a good variety of poem topics and poetic voices. It’s a “comfy pair of slippers” kind of collection that, I think, early elementary teachers will enjoy having close at hand in the classroom--and one that most early readers won’t have to struggle to read independently. Sachiko Yosikawa’s colorful, uncluttered illustrations add to the humor and light-hearted tone of the poems.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have Three Songs at the End of Summer by Jane Kenyon.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Charlotte’s Library.

P.S. I’ll be in charge of the Poetry Friday Roundup next week.


Sara said...

I love that pencil stub one. I'm going to start talking to MY pencil.

Charlotte said...

This sounds like a great book! Thanks for sharing it.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

This sounds like a great book to have at hand. I'll look for it.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I think I need to start talking to my computer. I'd had a bit of a dry spell lately in regard to my poetry writing.

Charlotte & Cloudscome,

Lee Bennett Hopkins usually comes through with his I Can Read anthologies for young children.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this review, Elaine. Can't wait to read the book!

P.S. Any word on the pub date of the anthology *you* have a pencil poem in?

Elaine Magliaro said...


I believe it will be published by Roaring Brook Press in March 2009--a year later than originally planned.