Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2011. I am the book. Ill. by Yayo. New York: Holiday House. ISBN – 9780823421190.
Critical Review –
Hopkins assembles a collection of thirteen poems written by various poets all on the subject of books that celebrate reading. All of the poems are by well-known poets like Naomi Shihab Nye, Beverly McLoughland, and Kristine O’Connell George to name a few. Hopkins includes a table of contents that lists the poem title and poet which is extremely helpful in finding a particular poem. Also, in the back is an “About the Poets” section that gives brief yet interesting information about each poet that contributed to this anthology. While most of the text of the poems is in a bold black font, the titles along with the table of contents and headers of the “About the Poets” section alternate in various classic colors like red, blue, and green. All of these text features makes the collection easy to read and easy to navigate.
Likewise, the illustrations are in bright basic colors inviting the reader to carefully peruse each detail. Using colorful acrylics, Yayo elaborates on each poem to not only add to the meaning, but to prompt wondering as well. It is a fascinating combination. For example, the illustration for the poem entitled, “A Poem Is”, Yayo creates an amusement park out of musical instruments. It is a clever illustration for the poem in that the poem uses the simile “like bumper cars/at a fair” and the metaphor, “an orchestra/of sounds.” The reader will find it entertaining to try to name the various instruments, and what they represent in the amusement park.
All the poems are simple enough for young children to understand yet meaningful enough for older children to explore. In the poem, “Quiet Morning” by Karen B. Winnick, young children can enjoy the simplicity of a boy, a book, and a dog having something to do on a rainy day; whereas, older children can speculate on why the boy and the dog are in the book. This is just one example of how the poems and illustrations work perfectly together. Some of the poems rhyme while others are free verse, and all can be used for one literary element study or another, such as, alliteration, onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, etc. “Poetry Time” by Lee Bennett Hopkins uses onomatopoeia to craft an amusing rhythmic rhyme, “It’s poem o’clock/Time for a rhyme- /tick-tock/ding-dong/bing-bong/or/chime.” Children will love reading this one out loud. Below is a poem from this collection.
Quiet Morning by Karen B. Winnick
Early in the morning
dog, book and me
spend quiet moments
just we three.
Snuggled by the window,
chin on my knee
close to the raindrops,
dog, book and me.
Kid Connection –
To introduce the poem, ask the children to share what kind of things they like to do on a rainy day. Then ask them how many of those things they could do if their electricity goes out on a rainy day. Display the poem so all the children can see it as the librarian reads it. Then, have the children read it out loud in chorus. Next, divide the children into two groups and have one group read the first stanza, and the other group read the second stanza. As a follow-up activity, have the children draw pictures of their rainy day activities.