The first is Messing Around on the Monkey Bars by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Jessie Hartland. This is a book of poems about school that are read in two voices. The text is different levels of bold for each reader. There are poems about lunch, recess, the school bus, homework and much more. This is a book that requires the participants to be readers rather than just listeners.
The subject matter in some of these turned out to be just a bit old for Z. Since he's only in half-day Kindergarten, he doesn't ride the bus or have lunch. He also doesn't have some of the subjects mentioned in the poems. Still, he liked the interactiveness of the poems and there were a few that worked for him -- like New Kid at School, In the Library, and Me and Joe Lining Up After Recess -- a fun one about two kids who are chatty and fidgety in line! This book should do really well with most grade school kids. The back of the book also has alternate ideas for reading the poems with larger groups of kids -- something that made me want to bring this book to the attention of our school librarian!
Deborah Noyes. Strangely, I will be reading her novel Captivity in the next month or two).
If you aren't sure what an acrostic is, the book starts with a great poem about acrostics!
Explore the acrostic that rides
Down the page.
Get a word you
Enjoy and would like to define.
Write it down vertically
And fill in each line.
Your name is a very good way to begin.
Surprise yourself. Find that poem within!
Z absolutely loved this book. He loves puzzles and word play and these acrostics with their hidden messages got him very excited. He's also always loved African animals and this book has fantastic photographs and animal facts. A couple of the poems are a bit awkward due to the forced nature of an acrostic. Most of them, though, are quite witty and fun. Z kept looking at this book through the rest of the afternoon after we read it together.
I think one thing that turns some children off to poetry are the traditional style books with dull watercolors and pencil sketches and I think both of these books do a great job of bringing poetry to modern children. The books are visually appealing and the subject matter is something easily understandable by most kids.
Reading together in verse,
K and Z
Support our site and buy Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two Voices and African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways on Amazon or find them at your local library. We received our copies from the publisher.