Keepers: Treasure-Hunt Poems

Overview

THE GLEAM OF A GOLD NUGGET…the fire in a precious gem…the geometry of a seashell…a fossil, a baseball card. Treasures all.

John Frank’s poetry about the things we collect – at the beach, in the attic, in the mountains and desert, at flea markets – is a treasure itself. With handsome alluring photographs of collections and collectibles, this is a rare find – a keeper - to read and rediscover again and again.

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Overview

THE GLEAM OF A GOLD NUGGET…the fire in a precious gem…the geometry of a seashell…a fossil, a baseball card. Treasures all.

John Frank’s poetry about the things we collect – at the beach, in the attic, in the mountains and desert, at flea markets – is a treasure itself. With handsome alluring photographs of collections and collectibles, this is a rare find – a keeper - to read and rediscover again and again.

Keepers is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Booklist

Poet Frank, whose books include The Tomb of the Boy King (2001) and How to Catch a Fish (2007), offers a nice collection of short poems about treasures, from geodes to baseball cards to costume jewelry. The verse is grouped thematically according to where the treasures might be found: on beaches, in attics, in mountains and deserts, at flea markets, and in the ground. Writing with clarity and simplicity, Frank varies the rhythm and length of line and stanza from one poem to the next. “Abalone Shell” is among the shortest poems: “Rocking / in the current’s swirl . . . / a melted rainbow / cupped in pearl.” On the facing page, a photo of an open shell on the sand shows the iridescent colors gleaming from its interior surface. Though a few poems stand alone, most are illustrated with color photos that are as clear and straightforward as the verse. A good addition to poetry collections.

Publishers Weekly

It’s reluctant poetry-readers Frank seems most intent on reaching with this collection of friendly, sturdy verses.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-5–A collection of mostly short poems about the treasures to be found “At the Beach,” “In the Attic,” “In the Mountains and Desert,” “At the Flea Market,” and “Beneath the Ground.” Each section contains six poems. A driftwood bird, sea glass, a porcelain doll, baseball cards, a bronze star, a fossil, a sand rose, die-cast cars, comic books, puppets, spear points, and pottery jars all become subjects of well-crafted rhyming verses whose metaphors can bring them to life. For example, “Geode” begins, “I cracked a stone egg/dark as smoke,/and found, inside,/a crystal yolk…,” and “Abalone Shell” is depicted as “a melted rainbow cupped in pearl.” The imagery is enhanced by the full-color photographs that accompany a little more than half of the poems. Sometimes full-page, sometimes elegantly placed in minimalist fashion on the smooth white page, the photos, with their intense color, clarity, and focus, indeed make treasures out of these objects. A few of them have Robbins’s signature hand-colored slightly surreal look, and all of them increase readers’ appreciation of the lines...Overall, though, these appealing looks at one man’s treasures have immediacy and verve and spread the joy of discovery that makes collecting fun.–Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA

For Young Readers

Frank had the bright idea of writing poems about the idiosyncratic treasures, from polished stones to old baseball cards, that as they wait to be unearthed at the beach, in the attic, at the flea market, in the desert and elsewhere. Someone had the even brighter idea of pairing his efforts with the jewel-like photographs of Ken Robbins. As with any treasure hunt, there are finds and duds. In “Globe,” for instance, the photo outshines the verse. Isn’t exactly words on fire.) But sometimes the match just ignites, as in the lovely “Geode”...

Publishers Weekly

It's reluctant poetry-readers Frank (The Tomb of the Boy King ) seems most intent on reaching with this collection of friendly, sturdy verses. He celebrates the treasures many kids have in a box somewhere: arrowheads, old coins, comic books ("Good ol' Clark Kent,/ that mild-mannered reporter,/ on sale at a swap meet,/ a buck and a quarter"). Each poem deals with a single object-a fossil, a locket, a medal-and many are illustrated with Robbins's (Pumpkins ) photos, crisp, brightly lit, intensely colored closeups of die-cast cars or smooth stones, looking almost real enough to pick up. Like his flea-market treasures or his beach finds, Frank's poems are unassuming, accessible, even rough around the edges. Some read flat-footedly ("For thousands of years,/ you've slowly grown,/ and stayed in bloom-/ a rose of stone"); a few standouts are super-charged (about a Willie Mays baseball card: "There was no fly he couldn't field,/ no base he couldn't snatch,/ no juicy pitch he couldn't clout/ no runner he could not throw out"). Humor informs Frank's writing, but the spark of his best work appears to be missing. Ages 7-up. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
In his introduction, Frank discusses the joy of finding treasures through being alert to the beauty in everyday and, often, unnoticed items. His poems beautifully describe objects found at the beach,; in the attic;, in mountains and deserts,; at flea markets;, and beneath the ground. An example is the first poem, "Low Tide." "Polished stones,/And old bleached bones,/Lie scattered on the sandy shore/Where the ocean empties its pockets." Discoveries in the attic inspired verses about old-fashioned clothing, a porcelain doll, and forgotten baseball cards. Finding a dime buried deep in the earth inspired the poem, "Old Coin." "I found a dime/a century old/while digging deep below./Imagine what/it might have bought/a hundred years ago." About half of the poems are accompanied by stunning full-color photographs that reflect the moods of those poems perfectly. A lovely addition to any poetry collection. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 1-5- A collection of mostly short poems about the treasures to be found "At the Beach," "In the Attic," "In the Mountains and Desert," "At the Flea Market," and "Beneath the Ground." Each section contains six poems. A driftwood bird, sea glass, a porcelain doll, baseball cards, a bronze star, a fossil, a sand rose, die-cast cars, comic books, puppets, spear points, and pottery jars all become subjects of well-crafted rhyming verses whose metaphors can bring them to life. For example, "Geode" begins, "I cracked a stone egg/dark as smoke,/and found, inside,/a crystal yolk...," and "Abalone Shell" is depicted as "a melted rainbow cupped in pearl." The imagery is enhanced by the full-color photographs that accompany a little more than half of the poems. Sometimes full-page, sometimes elegantly placed in minimalist fashion on the smooth white page, the photos, with their intense color, clarity, and focus, indeed make treasures out of these objects. A few of them have Robbins's signature hand-colored slightly surreal look, and all of them increase readers' appreciation of the lines. It's a puzzle why there is a steadily decreasing number as the book goes on, and why the photographer didn't illustrate something as unfamiliar to children as "tourmalines." Overall, though, these appealing looks at one man's treasures have immediacy and verve and spread the joy of discovery that makes collecting fun.-Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA

Kirkus Reviews
In Sharon Creech's verse novel Love that Dog (2001), Miss Stretchberry knew how to engage her student Jack with poetry. Here is a collection seemingly directed at Jack and those classmates who might on their own dip into verse with simple rhythms and rhymes. Such is the appeal of this collection of 30 poems about objects found at the beach, in an attic, at flea markets and other places. The major drawback of this collection is the dated, nostalgic quality of both verse and subject. Robbins's astonishing photographs provide background to the poems and a necessary jolt of contemporary visual excitement, stealing drama from the verse. It is a shame that there is no author's or photographer's note about the creative process: How did Robbins find a piece of wood that so closely resembles the "Driftwood Bird" Frank describes? Perhaps Miss Stretchberry could ask Jack and his classmates to write their own object poems inspired by these amazing photos, enabling them to join the ranks of such poets as Ralph Fletcher or Valerie Worth. (Poetry. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596431973
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 7 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.75 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

John Frank is the author of several children’s books, including the award-winning The Toughest Cowboy and How to Catch a Fish, which Booklist praised as “resonating poetic vignettes [that] spawn a glinting, striking catch,” in a starred review. He lives in Redmond, Washington.

Ken Robbins is an author and photographer of many children’s books. Of his Pumpkins, School Library Journal wrote: “The color photos equal any painting for artistry of composition and sensitivity.” Ken Robbins lives on Long Island, NY.

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