Just in time for April, here are two titles that are perfect for both National Poetry Month and Earth Day–related lessons. Michelle Schaub’s lyrical stroll through a farmers’ market celebrates not only the bounties of nature but also the value of community; bugs reach new heights with Carol Murray’s delightful collection of verse, which includes illustrations rendered in Melissa Sweet’s trademark style.
Murray, Carol. Cricket in the Thicket: Poems About Bugs. illus. by Melissa Sweet. 40p. Holt. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805098181.
Gr 3-5 –Bouncy little poems skitter across the illustrated pages as Murray celebrates bugs, from walking sticks to dung beetles. Her fruit flies “stage an invasion and vanish like snow,” her mosquitoes are “ready and eager,” and her grasshoppers are “built with precision and speed.” Sweet’s graceful, cartoony watercolors capture the essence of the rhymes. Each poem is accompanied by a discreet fact box, while three additional pages of data lurk in the back of the book. This title is not as distinguished as, say, Paul Fleischman’s Newbery winner Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices or Douglas Florian’s handsome Insectlopedia: Poems and Paintings, but it stands delicately on multiple feet, chirpy as a cricket. VERDICT Sprightly, simple, and with a nice soupçon of information; a fine choice for large poetry collections.
Schaub, Michelle. Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market. illus. by Amy Huntington. 32p. Charlesbridge. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781580895477.
Gr 3-5 –A multiethnic crowd of people saunter through a farmers’ market, investigating produce, accompanied by cheerful poetry. Does the “smell of a melon give clues you can use”? Are free-range eggs truly “eggs-traordinary,” and is honey really “liquid-gold alchemy”? Along with this delectable sampling of sweet corn and the search for gooseberries are a list of reasons to shop at such a market, from “Tempting Your Taste Buds” to “Befriending a Farmer.” Huntington’s light watercolor brushstrokes provide a pleasing window into the world of the farmers’ market, from the early morning unloading of the truck to packing up in the late afternoon. Pair this delightful visit with Grace Lin’s mix of science and haiku in Our Food: A Healthy Serving of Science and Poems and Gail Gibbons’s exuberant The Vegetables We Eat for a nicely balanced diet. VERDICT When “a line wraps around the corner for fresh-squeezed lemonade” and the “farmers mist the Swiss chard and themselves,” you know you’re in the right place. Yes!