Each book in this series contains about a dozen poets in chapters arranged chronologically by the poet's birth date. Chapters begin with a brief bio and then contain a sample poem or two, summary and explication of the poems, discussion of poetic techniques and theme, and a comment on what critics say about the poet. Modern American Poetry includes familiar poets such as Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, and Langston Hughes, as well as lesser-known poets such as H. D. and Louise Bogan. Early American Poetry includes Phillis Wheatley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson. This particular book discusses what is going on historically and how the poet connected with people and events of the time, making it an excellent book to use to connect literature and history. The interesting introductions explain the type of poetry popular at the time covered in the book and examine the influences that affected the poets, such as the effect of modern art on modern poetry. Each chapter contains an image of the poet and sometimes art or a picture that goes with a poem. Sidebars labeled "Facts" explain poetic devices or information about the poet or the time. Facts in Early American Poetry include what Romanticism is, an explanation of poetic meter and rhyme scheme, and information about Emily Dickinson's correspondence. The writing is conversational but intelligent. Familiar and new poetic vocabulary, such as alliteration, symbolism, and allusion, are discussed with understandable definitions and examples from the poems. Each chapter leaves the reader with a greater understanding of poetry in general and with adesire to find more work by the poet discussed. These books would be great supplemental texts for teachers in grades eight through twelve who teach poetry and will look forward to the next three volumes in the spring: Contemporary American Poetry, Modern British Poetry, and World Poetry. Reviewer: Cindy Faughnan
- Ellen Welty
This book is part of a series titled "Poetry Rocks!" and encompasses a fairly broad time period, from the 7th century to the mid-19th century. The introduction discusses poetry in general and includes helpful notes about meter and rhyme. Each subsequent chapter focuses on a single exemplary poet of each period with the exception of a chapter about anonymous Anglo-Saxon poets and a chapter about traditional folk ballads. Each chapter dealing with an individual poet starts with a brief biography that mentions major works and important influences. One or two representative poems are analyzed and explained in detail including a summary, a discussion of technique and themes, and a commentary. Each chapter concludes with a discussion of the critical response to the poet and some suggestions for further reading. The poets discussed are Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Herbert, Milton, Pope, Johnson, Gray, Blake, Wordsworth, and Keats. This would be useful in a middle school or high school library or in an English classroom. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-These fluffy biographies are visually attractive but have little substance. The bold graphics and colorful sidebars give the series a teen-magazine feel, with topics such as hairstyles and fashion choices at the forefront. Short, simple sentences discuss family background, career highlights, and other personal bits of information that generally stick to more positive, less controversial topics. Tweens looking for fun browsing will be drawn to these books, but that's about their only use.