Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Jar of Tiny Stars (LS 5663 Review)

Cullinan, Bernice E. 1996. A Jar of Tiny Stars: Poems by NCTE Award-Winning Poets. Pennsylvania: Wordsong.

This book highlights the NCTE’s winning poets’ work. The poets included are as follows: David McCord, Aileen Fisher, Karla Kuskin, Myra Livingston, Eve Merriam, John Ciardi, Lilian Moore, Arnold Adoff, Valerie Worth, and Barbara Esbensen. The NCTE evaluates a body of work by a poet, and 3,500 children weighed-in on the top five poems by the poet, which are the poems shared in the book. The poems selected are light-hearted and reflect the innocence of childhood. Although ten different poets are featured, the poems gel through the common thread of children and their lives. While the poems create sensory images and a follow a natural rhythm, the pictures make the poems appear more outdated than they are. The black and white sketches do not reflect the childhood fancy presented in the poem. Their dreariness dulls the impact of the poem. Updating the book with colorful, bright pictures would attract more young students to the book.

In contrast, the book provides a collection of well-written, thoughtful poems by different authors for teachers and librarians from which to pull for classroom lessons or poetry breaks. “I Woke up this Morning” by Karla Kuskin is great extension when reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The poem lists all of the things the narrator did wrong throughout the day, and it ends with the following stanza:

     “Well, I said

     That tomorrow

     At quarter past seven

     They can

     Come in and get me.

     I’m Staying In Bed.”

The poem mirrors the way Alexander felt in the book, and the two can be compared. Students can then write a poem about their own bad day.

Although the book is a convenient resource for teachers and librarians, giving them access to great poems in one collection, the lack of color and the plain pictures keep this book from being a book many children would read on their own.

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