Vol. 3, Issue 3, March 2023

How will you be celebrating National Poetry Month? It’s just days away and poetry is a favorite in classrooms and libraries. Designing curriculum with a poetry slant is a great approach to expand knowledge in any subject. Whether using a daily poem prompt to expand language arts or English class or using poems to learn math rules and science vocabulary, poetry puts a fun spin on learning. Library programs such as poetry slams, local poet visits, and poetry writing workshops can be geared towards any age group and work with any budget. 

We are gearing up for National Poetry Month by sharing our insightful interview with favorite children’s poet Kalli Dakos. If your audience is teen readers, Children’s Literature reviewer Kasey Giard shares her cool list of novels in verse. And our notable reviews include No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change, which features poems about climate change activists and activist groups.


Subscribe to ChildrensLit Now Newsletter

ChildrensLit Notable Reviews

Peaceful Me
By: Sandra V. Feder
Illustrated by: Rahele Jomepour Bell
Publisher: Groundwood Books
ISBN: 9781773063416
Reviewer: Dana Moses

A little boy shares all the things that make him feel peaceful through colorful and engaging illustrations.  He feels peaceful when he is with people, but also when he is alone. He feels peaceful when he helps others and when he spends time with his family. Sometimes he does not feel peaceful at all, but he knows what to do to help himself find peace. He uses a variety of calming strategies like imagining his favorite things, finding a quiet place, or doing some deep breathing. In using his calming strategies, he is able to achieve peace again. Preschool and elementary teachers and counselors will love this multicultural companion to "Angry Me." The two stories can be used together or separately to explore uncomfortable feelings and healthy and safe ways to handle them. Through this story, kids can learn how to help themselves feel better when having uncomfortable feelings, while adults can learn how to help kids manage them appropriately at the same time.


No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change
By: Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson and Jeanette Bradley
Illustrated by: Jeanette Bradley
Publisher: Charlesbridge
ISBN: 9781623543136
Reviewer: Rachel Long

When reading this book, the reader feels as if they are transported from one point on the globe to the next. Each page includes a poem written about an activist or an activist group, a description of how they are involved in climate change efforts, and an illustration. There is nothing that links one poem to the next except each poem is about climate change and how different people around the world are advocating for worldwide climate progress. The illustrations are beautiful, and the poems are inspiring, but this is a little dry for a children's book. The book is too difficult for younger children. The words are difficult, and the content is challenging. However, if an older child is looking to find out what they can do to help the planet, this is the book they should read. Each story is inspiring and realistic, and there are tips throughout the book about how kids can get involved.

Lind + Hud: Heroes by a Hair
By: Jarrett Pumphrey
Illustrated by: Jerome Pumphrey
Publisher: Norton Young Readers
ISBN: 9781324016090
Reviewer: Meghan Villhauer

Lincoln and Hudson Dupré, nicknamed Link and Hud, have amazing imaginations but this talent can often get them in trouble. In their imaginary world, the brothers might be using their stealthy ninja skills but in the real world, they are leaving footprints all over the carpet. Their shenanigans have worn out all the local babysitters as well as their parents, who find a new potential babysitter in Ms. Joyce, a no-nonsense woman who has helped to raise countless children. With the arrival of Ms. Joyce in their lives, Link and Hud make her into the villain in all their imaginings. They plot to get her fired from babysitting for her strict ways and begin to wonder if she is stealing their father’s hair salon products. The boys hope to catch her in the act of stealing but she explains that the products are better used for cleaning than on hair and has in fact been using them to clean around the house. The text of the chapters is interspersed with comic book style layouts which illustrate each of the imagined worlds the brothers create, and additional illustrations are included throughout the book as well. The brothers are a fun pair, and their imaginative worlds are depicted in black and white illustrations which do a good job of conveying the emotions and world the brothers are experiencing in their minds. When the real world disrupts their imaginary one, usually in the form of a scolding adult, the transitions are well done and often have hilarious results. This title is a great choice for fans of Stuntboy in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds which has a similar format as well as Marcus Makes a Movie by Kevin Hart.

Brave Bird at Wounded Knee: A Story of Protest on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
By: Rachel Bithell
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
ISBN: 9781631636851
Reviewer: Kathryn Sadakierski

Growing up takes courage. As part of the process of self-discovery, children must find their bravery. Sixth-grader Patsy, learning about her Lakota heritage, is suddenly in the midst of a historical movement when the 1973 Wounded Knee occupation occurs on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Patsy, who is preparing welcome a new sibling into her family and move into a new house, draws upon deep inner strength at pivotal moments as she accompanies her father on a trip to Wounded Knee to assist family members in need. Coming to understand the complex history of relations between colonists and indigenous peoples in America, Patsy refines her sense of identity and comes to realize there are many ways to protest injustice and share one’s talents to amplify community members’ voices. Contending with danger at Pine Ridge as tensions rise, Patsy’s awareness of how discrimination shapes everyday experiences for people of color increases her determination to be a force for positive change who uses her story to celebrate her ancestors and preserve rich cultural traditions. This absorbing, sensitively written work of historical fiction illuminates an important event seldom addressed in children’s literature. Patsy is a thoughtful, driven character who models curiosity, creativity, resiliency, and a positive attitude while demonstrating how anyone can engage with their family history and use their knowledge to impact the world. Making clear connections to current events, the book can enhance social studies units with its accessible breakdown of history, inclusive perspective in presenting various sides of issues, and resources for further learning that encourage students to continue asking questions. A helpful primer to spark conversation on race, the book offers a realistic depiction of children and families that will interest middle-grade readers, guiding them through challenging topics by highlighting universal aspects of life that are relatable in any era.

A Funny Thing Happened After School…
By: Davide Cali
Illustrated by: Benjamin Chaud
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN: 9781452183008
Reviewer: Lisa Czirr

Excuses abound in a galaxy far away in this whimsical picture book. The book’s distinct style will feel familiar to fans of the author, who has written many similar titles, such as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School... This silly story starts with a teacher questioning her students about their missing homework and the explanations that follow are literally out of this world. They’re picked up by one of their mothers in a flying saucer and take a variety of weird diversions along the way home. Every time the kids attempt to start their homework, there is always a new disruption thwarting them. The illustrations that accompany the array of excuses are especially hilarious, with details that give the book a classic science fiction atmosphere. The humor especially manifests with the pairing of commonplace descriptions in the text and alien situations in the illustrations (for instance, that flying saucer is referred to as the “family car”). The unexpectedness of each twist will keep kids hooked and makes this a great selection for reading aloud and making predictions.

Cash is Queen: A Girl’s Guide to Securing, Spending and Stashing Cash
By: Davinia Tomlinson
Illustrated by: Andrea Oerter
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books
ISBN: 9780711276369
Reviewer: Kathryn Sadakierski

A wealth of applicable wisdom is offered in Tomlinson's finance guide, crafted with the unique needs of a young female audience in mind. Covering essentials, the money management guide for girls is a foundational resource helping young women to confidently make informed, safe financial decisions. Written in a warm, conversational tone, the book conveys information clearly and accessibly to readers, in language targeted at tweens and teens. Pop cultural references relatable to middle and high school girls illuminate concepts, grounding material in a reality familiar to adolescents. Taking into account burgeoning digital technologies and current trends, including gig economies, cryptocurrencies, and social media influencers marketing products to young adults, the book is relevant and up-to-date, including visuals that will appeal to Gen. Z. While increasing readers’ awareness of risks and rewards shaping financial health, introducing girls to investing strategies, retirement planning, and systems of saving income, Tomlinson goes beyond defining economic terms to provide young women with a truly empowering, sound reference to return to regularly in checking their behaviors surrounding money, and ensuring that they are using their money in ways best aligning with their goals. Drawing upon psychology principles, the book advises girls in evaluating how their mental and emotional health impacts their spending and saving decisions, promoting positive habit formation and the cultivation of high self-esteem. Enabling girls to believe in themselves and utilize their money to pragmatically support the fulfillment of their dreams, the book’s encouraging voice and balanced perspective on money as a tool that broadens possibilities will draw readers to continue investing in their future and making progress. Pairing well with stock market challenges, the book can anchor lessons on intersections between mathematics and social studies. Narrative examples, helpful tips for practicing skills, activity ideas, suggestions for discussion, and a glossary further engage readers.


Turkey's Sandtastic Beach Day
By: Wendi Silvano
Illustrated by: Lee Harper
Publisher: Two Lions
ISBN: 9781662508356
Reviewer: Karina Hernandez

In Silvano’s newest edition to the Turkey Trouble series, everyone’s favorite character Turkey is on to his next adventure. When Farmer Jake takes all of the animals to the beach boardwalk to participate in a petting zoo, Turkey becomes engrossed in finding a way to enjoy the beach. Turkey has never been to the beach before and there are many activities he wants to try. With the help of the other animals, Turkey attempts to sneak away from the petting zoo in order to accomplish his mission. Unfortunately, with each try, Turkey and the animals are spotted by either the beach lifeguard or Farmer Jake and taken back to the petting zoo. Then, after many shenanigans, Farmer Jake grows tired of chasing the animals around and falls asleep. Turkey and the others realize this is their chance to finally enjoy the beach together. They learn of a sand-sculpture competition nearby and decide to enter. Together they work hard to build a sculpture and their effort wins them the grand prize which is a free vacation at a house with their own private beach. This allows them to experience the most "sandtastic" beach day they could have dreamed of! Turkey’s latest escapade is full of excitement and humor. Readers will be captivated by the colorful and fun-filled illustrations on each page. Silvano’s writing will engage families and classrooms as they laugh together over the hilarious puns and lovable characters.

Books & Authors

Author and Poet Kalli Dakos


You can’t celebrate National Poetry Month without poet Kalli Dakos! As the author of over 3,000 poems for children and also as a reading specialist, Kalli knows a thing or two about the power of words. She can turn everyday activities and situations into art through playful rhymes and thoughtful phrases. We’re delighted to introduce you to Kalli’s latest book and her thoughts on poetry.

Hi Kalli. In honor of National Poetry Month, when did your love affair with poetry start?

I've loved reading poetry ever since I was a child, but I fell in love with writing poetry as a teacher. I had taken a year off to work on my writing career and when I returned to teaching I was amazed to see the wealth of stories inside my own classroom and my own school. Those stories about pencils, bookbags, embarrassing moments, sad goodbyes, bullying, etc. seemed to fit best in poetry.

Which has inspired your poetry more- your personal life or the world at large?

My school and classroom experiences have inspired me the most. There are the most amazing stories in our classrooms and sharing them as poetry has been one of the greatest joys of my life. 

We’re so familiar with your books and poems for school-aged children. What influenced you to create your latest book for toddlers and preschoolers?

This story was originally a poem, inspired by a first grader.  She was so happy on her sixth birthday and sang to me:

My head is six.  

My eyes are six.  

My nose is six.  

My hands are six. 

 My feet are six. 


She gave me the idea of celebrating the parts of the body on our birthdays right down to our belly buttons. The little girl told me this story about ten years ago, and I finally saw it as an entire book for toddlers and young children.

Tell us a little about the collaboration with Amicus Ink and also illustrator Luciana Navarro Powell on this book.

I was thrilled when Amicus decided to take on this book and I’ve loved working with Rebecca Glaser, the editor. In a rhyming text, every single word counts, and we went over this manuscript very carefully together. Then we collaborated with Luciana on every illustration with many e-mails going back and forth over the smallest details in the pictures.  It was wonderful to work with two amazing and talented women.

We love the rhyming text in the book. It flows perfectly for your intended audience. Why do you feel it’s so important to include rhyming text for this age group?

Children love words and language and rhyme. Just think how popular the nursery rhymes have been through all of time. Children continue to chant playground rhymes for the pure joy of it. I am a reading specialist and I know that the bouncy rhythm and repetition in poetry helps children with beginning reading skills in a purely joyful context.  Also, there is an instrinsic love for the rhythm and rhyme in poetry that feeds the soul at many levels, even for our youngest children.

Our readers are always looking for tips and tricks to help toddlers and preschoolers with rhyming. Can you share a few? 

I always tell parents and teachers to have FUN when they read a book to a child. I learned years ago that children always respond to LOVE, and they know when a parent reads a book with joy and expression and love for the words, the language and the rhyme. It is this very “love” that inspires them to fall in love with reading and books. To give a child the gift of literacy is to open up worlds for them that will inspire their journey through life.  And it all begins with books like Happy Birthday, Belly Button!

What would be your number one piece of advice for someone who wants to start writing poetry but doesn’t know where to begin?

A dear poet friend of mine had a theory about teaching poetry to children. She said that before we even had them write poetry, we should "soak" them in the best poetry books for children. By reading poetry, we might be inspired to write our own poems. I think this is true for adults as well as children.

To learn more about all of Kalli’s books, visit https://www.kallidakos.com.


Books & Curriculum

7 YA Novels in Verse for National Poetry Month

Since 1996, we’ve celebrated April as National Poetry Month. These novels in verse each deliver a compelling story led by unforgettable characters. The stark descriptions and lyrical lines offer readers a rich reading experience. These seven amazing novels in verse are perfect for sharing with young adult readers this April. Contributor: Kasey Giard, Children’s Literature reviewer and https://thestorysanctuary.com/.

The Black Flamingo
By: Dean Atta
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
ISBN: 9780062990297

The Stonewall Book Award winning coming of age story of Michael, a young gay man who discovers his identity in drag.

Clap When You Land
By: Elizabeth Acevedo
Publisher: HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780062882769

Two unknown sisters living two different lives in two different countries become known to each other after their father unexpectedly dies and they face terrible grief.

Dear Medusa
By: Olivia A. Cole
Publisher: Labyrinth Road
ISBN: 9780593485736

Abuse by a popular teacher has turned Alicia’s life upside down, as if she is the monster rather than the victim, in her own story until a new girl stirs Alicia’s courage and hope.

Don’t Call Me a Hurricane
By: Ellen Hagan
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
ISBN: 9781547609161

Eliza works tirelessly to protect her hurricane-ravaged Jersey shore island home from those who would exploit it. And now, a summer romance with a boy whose family jeopardizes Eliza’s efforts makes her question whether to trust her heart.

The Ghosts of Rose Hill
By: R. M. Romero
Publisher: Peachtree Teen
ISBN: 9781682633380

A young violinist sent to stay with an aunt in Prague discovers the ghost of a boy as she cares for a Jewish cemetery. Part fairytale, part love story, part celebration of history, culture, and faith.

Me: Moth
By: Amber McBride
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
ISBN: 9781250780362

A girl who lost her family in a car accident and a boy searching for his own roots embark on a road trip that reveals secrets, great and terrible.

Three Things I Know Are True
By: Betty Culley
Publisher: HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780062908032

A shooting accident leaves Liv torn between caring for her brother and longing to reach out to the best friend whose father’s gun injured him.

ChildrensLit Highlights

 Children's Literature has recently updated its publisher review contacts. If you are a publisher who has been sending us your latest titles but hasn't received a copy of your completed reviews, we may not have received your latest review contact email. Please email Shelley Oakley at shelley.oakley@childrenslit.com with your most up-to-date contact information.

  Children's Literature welcomes Bellwether Media to our list of publishers who receive our reviews. Bellwether publishes nonfiction books on high-interest subjects with compelling narratives and industry-leading design. Visit https://bellwethermedia.com for more information about their nine nonfiction imprints.