Poetry picture books for summer settings

Summer brings visions of blue skies, green fields, turquoise waters, and carefree days. Summer days are perfect for sharing poems that will bring the beauty of nature and animals home to us. These three picture books filled with poetry do just that.

blooming sun“Blooming Beneath the Sun” is filled with nursery rhymes by renowned poet Christina Rosetti. The art, a brilliant marriage of color and collage, is by Ashley Bryan. The poems are about animals and family and the wind. They feature birds so beautifully created and paper so intricately cut that readers automatically run their fingers over the pages trying to feel the texture of the different layers of paper. Perhaps the most beautiful and brilliant is the rooster under a bright yellow sun, layers of pink, purple, red, and yellow paper giving him a distinct flair as he walks through yellow flowers with blue centers. This book will become a treasured choice for young readers. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

“Poetree” by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds and illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani brings the poetreelove of poetry to two young children who both decide to write poems to a tree. In a sweet version of Katherine Applegate’s “Wishtree,” albeit without the true talking tree, two young poets both think they are communicating with a tree through poetry. It’s about finding friendship unexpectedly. The illustrations are beautiful and are pure poetry as well. They are layered and pastel and filled with lots of white spaces. It’s a beautiful book. (Dial Books)

“Bark in the Park” by Avery Gorman with pictures by Hyewon Yum has end papers filled with lovely illustrations of many different breeds of dogs, with the pages in between filled with clever short poems about the breeds. For example, the bull terrier’s verse goes:

bark in the park“A scrappy guy with lots of hustle,
He’s one part dog and one part muscle.”

The last poem might just be my favorite because it includes mixed breeds and is about the wonder of being friends with a dog — any kind of dog. This book is a perfect choice for any young animal lover. Kids will love the short rhymes and the bright lively illustrations. (Orchard Books)

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover books provided by the publishers for review purposes.

My favorite poem about dogs:

A Breed Apart

Time for a riddle: Name the breed in this poem.
You may win the prize, a grand gift for your home.
Now here are your clues: they may seem contradictory
‘Til you figure the trick, win the game, claim your victory.

His tail is either short or long,
He’s loud or quiet or weak or strong,
He’s little or large, thin or stout,
Spotted or striped. Have you figured it out?
Who fits this pattern of pairs paradoxical?
Which pooch is more fun than eating a popsicle?

It’s the mongrel, the mutt, the Heinz 57.
Catch up on the news: This doggy is heaven.
Though his family tree can’t be drawn quite precisely,
His love and affection will serve you quite nicely.
Now go to the pound; pick up your reward,
Take the grand prize for the points that you’ve scored.
You’ve solved our tricky mind expander
And saved a dog’s life — what prize could be grander?

By Jack Kramer



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