A Pocketful of Poems

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Tiana has a pocketful of words: green words like spring, night words like moon, and words with wings, like angel. Each word is the inspiration for a pair of poems—one, lyrical free verse and the other, haiku. The paired poems reflect Tiana’s lively spirit and urban outlook and are showcased in Javaka Steptoe’s inventive collages, which include a wide range of materials, from faucet handles to pumpkin seeds to a hand-sculpted, gilded alphabet. A fusion of two remarkable creative talents, A Pocketful of Poems is an...

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Overview

Tiana has a pocketful of words: green words like spring, night words like moon, and words with wings, like angel. Each word is the inspiration for a pair of poems—one, lyrical free verse and the other, haiku. The paired poems reflect Tiana’s lively spirit and urban outlook and are showcased in Javaka Steptoe’s inventive collages, which include a wide range of materials, from faucet handles to pumpkin seeds to a hand-sculpted, gilded alphabet. A fusion of two remarkable creative talents, A Pocketful of Poems is an engaging portrait of a down-to-earth girl who has a way with words, as well as a tantalizing introduction to poetry. Author’s note on haiku.

Poems and haiku verses provides glimpses of life in the city.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" Grimes (Jazmin's Notebook) boils poetry down to its essence in this picture book homage to words — a must-read for aspiring poets and writers. Narrator and girl poet Tiana begins with an invitation to join her in wordplay, and the accompanying illustration depicts her, literally, with hands outstretched and bearing what appear to be carved letters in her palms. The poem "Tiana" launches the volume, then the heroine leads readers through the seasons with more than a dozen words, from "Spring" to "Gift" at Christimastime. Each spread introduces the chosen word in a brief poem, then highlights the same word in a haiku. Tiana's bubbling personality shines forth from each verse, and Steptoe (In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall), in an extraordinary feat, sculpts each of his character portraits from construction paper in a single, uniterrupted linear outline. His glorious mixed-media collages make the transition from intimate interior scenes to electric urban landscapes. A standout spread for "Harlem," depicts a rooftop image of Tiana and her father; the words of the haiku comprise a display of fireworks: "Harlem —July Fourth/fireworks rainbow the night with/bursts of dazzling light." Readers can only hope that this dynamic duo has many more pockets full of poems." Publishers Weekly, Starred

"There's so much vibrant energy and freshness in this collaboration, the book will dance into the hearts of children right away." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

A playful and thoroughly successful pairing of words and pictures.
School Library Journal

null Children's Books: 100 Titles NYPL

Children's Literature
Imagine having a pocketful of words—pigeon, hot, angels, shower, gifts¾that you can take out to create poetry. Free verse captures the feeling—"CATERPILLAR—the word wriggles in my pocket...I reach for it, but it worms away..." A free verse poem is coupled on each double- page foldout with Haiku. Haiku is a seventeen-syllable, three-line poem that originated in Japan, but is open to universal interpretation. "Magic! Evening snow...drifts turn! Each starlight into...a star on a stick." Grimes has coupled these paired poems with the contemporary art form of a Harlem-born city girl. The poems invite young authors to write poetry of their own and set them into artistic collages. What would you do with an old faucet, some straws, a sponge and textured papers? Steptoe has used a wide variety of found objects to create fanciful creations that seem to spring from the page. Old tin pie plates make a silvery moon, while a baseball bat fashioned out of straws invites us to take "one last sip of summer." Children will enjoy the three-dimensional aspect of the creative artwork and teachers can use the book as a springboard for writing. 2001, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin, . Ages 6 to 12. Reviewer: Laura Hummel
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-A playful and thoroughly successful pairing of words and pictures. Most double-page spreads offer two poems, one in free verse, one in haiku, set on bright collages of cut paper and found objects. In an author's note, Grimes states that, with haiku, "-the poet can create a sort of painting in miniature." And she does that, many times, in this lively collection that begins on a spring morning and ends with a New Year. Graceful, rhythmic, and accessible, the poems depict sensory impressions and precisely observed moments. Take, for example, this haiku: "Hot days send me to/the water fountain where my/face goes for a swim." Humor is provided in abundance as well. Steptoe's illustrations are original and distinctive and sometimes a bit busy, but give the book an urban, upbeat, and contemporary look. Overall, this is a keeper, for both in and out of the classroom.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395938683
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 390L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Javaka Steptoe is a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award-winner who has created several books for children. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, please visit www.javaka.com.

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