Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hopkins Collection: Spectacular Science


Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2002. Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems. Ill. by Virgina Halstead. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks. ISBN – 9780689851209.

Critical Review-

This collection of fifteen poems complied by Lee Bennett Hopkins has poems by various poets and includes some of his own poems. Some of the poets showcased in this anthology are Carl Sandburg, Lillian Moore, and Claudia Lewis. The book of poems opens with a table of contents which allows a quick review of titles and poets making it easy to find a particular poem. All of the poems cover various science concepts or ideas with the first poem defining science making a great introduction to the poems that follow. Other science topics covered are rocks, bones, the atmosphere, animals, and light to name a few. The illustrations are created in layers of paint to add texture, and a combination of oil pastels, oil bars, wax and Prisma color pencils are used to produce the brilliant colors in each illustration. The illustrations prompt exploration as much as the words of the poems. The wonder and excitement of discovery are explored on each page of this collection. Some of the poems are free verse while others rhyme. Many of the poems pose science questions to be investigated by the reader encouraging scientific curiosity. The poem below is from this collection.

Three Skies
By Claudia Lewis

Three skies
Above our world-

Grey sky when clouds are high.

Break through the clouds
And it's blue where the planes fly.

Break through the blue on a rocket flight
And the skies are black, day and night.

Break through the black-

Who knows
To what fourth sky,
On what flight?

As with many of the poems in this collection, this poem asks a question to prompt the reader to mentally explore the answers to the questions. This poem challenges the reader to think about what could lie beyond the known skies. The cleverly designed illustration has someone looking up and unzipping the worlds to expose each of the three skies. The zipper is not completely unzipped to show that there is room to explore.

Kid Connection-

This poem would be a delightful introduction to a science lesson on the solar system or space exploration. This poem lends itself to having a different student read each stanza of the poem. After reading the poem, have students volunteer to share what they think might be in that “fourth sky.” After experiencing this poem, the students will be ready to follow-up with the science lesson. All of the poems in this collection would make great introductions to science topics.

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