Friday, November 14, 2008

The Sun in Me: Poems about the Planet

The Sun in Me: Poems about the Planet
Compiled by Grace Nicholls
Illustrated by Beth Krommes
Barefoot Books, 2003

Every week I spend quite a bit of time trying to decide what to post about on Poetry Friday. Yesterday, I went looking through my extensive personal collection of children’s poetry books. Then I pulled The Sun in Me: Poems about the Planet off the shelf. I hadn’t read from the book in a long time. I thought it would be a good anthology to review this week. Its poems celebrate nature—its beauty, the wonder it instills in us, the feelings it evokes. There are twenty-nine poems about the rain and the sea, about birds and the forest, about winter and snow, about corn growing, about stars and the sun. There are poems about observing the world and about listening to quiet sounds.

The book contains poems written by Emily Dickinson, Sappho, John Updike, David McCord, Ian Serrailler, Issa, and Charlotte Zolotow. It also includes many lovely poems I haven’t seen in other anthologies—poems by Grace Nichols, Jean Kenward, John Foster, Moira Andrew, Zaro Weil, an excerpt from a Passamaquoddy Indian song—as well as poems translated from other languages. Beth Krommes, the illustrator of Joyce Sidman’s award-winning poetry book Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow, did the artwork for this book. Her scratchboard and watercolor illustrations are bold and striking and serve as a perfect complement to the poems selected by Grace Nicholls. (Click here to see an illustration from Butterfly Eyes.)

The Sun in Me opens with the poem Behold. On the double-page spread with the poem, Krommes shows a child in a small plane flying above a planet bursting with life—green trees, colorful flowers, and an ocean teeming with fish and a spouting whale.

Excerpts from selected poems included in the book:

From Behold
by Mary Kawena Pukui

Above, above
All birds in air

Below, below
All earth’s flowers…

Sing out and say
Again and refrain

Behold this lovely world.

From I Spun a Star
by John Foster

I spun a star
Which gleamed and glittered in the night.
I spun a star,
Stood watching spellbound from afar,
Until it disappeared from sight…

From The Snow
by Emily Dickinson

It ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen—
Then stills its Artisans—like Ghosts—
Denying they have been—

The book closes with The Sun in Me. Here are the first and last stanzas of the poem.

From The Sun in Me
by Moira Andrew

The sun is in me,
pale morning flames
setting my still-sleeping
heart alight.

The moon is in me,
sad silver beams
painting my dreams
with shadows.

The Sun in Me: Poems about the Planet would make a lovely gift for a young nature lover.


At Blue Rose Girls, I have another poem by Sherman Alexie this week entitled Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World.

Yat-Yee Chong has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.


Linda said...

Isn't it amazing how so much can be said with so few words? These poems are lovely. I'm already thinking of students who might enjoy a copy of them.
Have a great weekend!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I have so many children's poetry books that I sometimes forget about some of them. When I reread THE SUN IN ME yesterday, I realized that I liked it more than I had the first time I read it. In addition, I like to recommend anthologies with poems not often found in other children's poetry books.

jama said...

Squee! You posted a poem by Mary Kawena Pukui!! Actually, it's a hula chant that she translated. I quoted a few lines of it in Hawaiian in my third PB, Woman in the Moon.

Children in kindergarten are often taught this chant, with appropriate directional gestures.

Elaine Magliaro said...


Thanks for the information. What a lovely chant for a hula.

Sara said...

I'm a morning person, so the sun in me must be strong! What a lovely cover and collection.

Sara said...
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Jules at 7-Imp said...

Thanks for this. I think my four-year-old might like it.

Mary Lee said...

Sounds like it would be a good addition to my collection! Later today, I'll go support the book industry!

Anonymous said...

Ooh, thanks for this review and intro to a new collection. I loved the artwork for Butterfly Eyes so it is exciting to see other work by the illustrator.

Charlotte said...

That sounds like a lovely one...thanks!

Christina said...

What a lovely book, Elaine. Thanks for sharing. I'm always on the lookout for nature-inspired poetry!

Elaine Magliaro said...

Sara, Jules, Mary Lee, Jone, Charlotte, Fiddler--

This poetry book has been in my library for a few years. Sometimes I lose track or forget about some of my poetry books because I have so many. I like this anthology because it includes so many poems not found in other children's poetry books. In addition, I enjoy poetry about nature and I like Beth Krommes' illustrations.

laurasalas said...

Sounds like a terrific anthology! I haven't heard of this one before. Off to put it on reserve at the library. Thanks!