Of the two best books I've read about writing (Randall Jarrell's The Bat-Poet and Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage), only one is suitable for children. Sparsely illustrated by Maurice Sendak, The Bat-Poet is something of a primer to the poetic imagination and the courage required to say what one thinks, replete with subtle instructions on meter and rhyme, and poems as airy and speculative as anything Jarrell put down for adults. -ColinJust then the mockingbird began to imitate a jay—not the way a jay squawks or scolds but the way he really sings, in a deep soft voice; as he listened the bat remembered how the mockingbird had driven off two jays that morning. He thought: "It's queer the way he drives everything off and then imitates it. You wouldn't think that—" And at that instant he had an idea for a poem. The Bat-Poet(Harper Collins, First edition, 1964) Randall Jarrell, illus. by Maurice Sendak
Events for Young Readers at 57th Street Books On March 19, we celebrated Dr. Seuss with Fox in Socks, Green Eggs and Ham, and lots and lots of language play! Franny conducted a tongue-tangling chorus, while Colin taught us how to rhyme like Dr. Seuss in (mostly) anapestic meter (see our birthday gift, composed for Dr. Seuss, below). Join us Saturday, April 22 at 3pm for Dragons, Knights & Royalty: A St. Jordi's Celebration at 57th Street Books! Dress up like royalty (or a dragon or knight!) as we talk translation, make roses, and learn the history and legend of Sant Jordi, Catalonia's patron saint, with Catalan author Màrius Serra and the University of Chicago'sCatalan Studies program. Click here to RSVP!
"Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!"
by 57th Street Books
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss
Happy Birthday Dentist Seuss...
You've Got a Loose Tooth
Try writing your own poem! Dr. Seuss used tongue-twisters (I saw Esau sitting on a seesaw), made-up words (flunnel, sneedle, zatz-it), and simple rhyme schemes (patterns of rhyming words, such as AABB or ABCB) to write some of his most memorable (if unsayable) works. How will you write your poem? Share your poem, or a personal favorite, by tagging us on social media and/or using the hashtag #youngpersonspoetrymonth
Dr. Seuss Day at 57th Street Books! Japanese poet Hiromi Itō came to the Co-op for an event in March, and, during the course of her visit, we were thrilled to discover that she is the Japanese translator of Dr. Seuss! She was kind enough to let us record her reading Oh, the Places You'll Go! in Japanese.
Hear an old favorite in a brand new way! Downloadhere, or stream here.
everywhere is chirping
and now there is purple
if you are wondering about me
and where i could be
on a day that drips
hot and thick like honey
walk down to the river
and around the bend
to flat rocks, warm and waiting
and there i will be
and you will find me
Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander tells a story of losing poetry due to it not being around much in school. It wasn't until college that he officially rediscovered the magic of poetry and his wish is that his readers of his work don't have to wait that long. Together with two other poets (one, the poet laureate of South Carolina), Alexander has crafted a beautiful collection of 25 original poems that celebrate the wonder of poetry as a whole. Each poem serves as a remembrance or homage to another poet. Spanning from the 17th century to modern day, each poem beats with the style and heart of the poet it was written to celebrate. Coupled with the stark and illuminating artwork of Ekua Holmes on every page, which also transforms to match the styles throughout, this is a book that will inspire those who read it to read further and grow their appreciation of the expansive world of poetry. -Kevin
Gwendolyn Brooks’s collection of poetry Bronzeville Boys and Girls, published in 1956, offers a glimpse into the frustrations and triumphs of 34 children growing up on the South Side. Illustrated in bold strokes and vibrant colors by African-American artist Faith Ringgold, this book celebrates the joys, anxieties, jealousies, and delights of childhood. One child, Michael, grasps his mother’s hand as a thunderstorm rages outside their window. Another, Paulette, wishes she were allowed to run outside like a boy. At once deeply specific and profoundly universal, these moving, empathetic snapshots will ring true to kids and adults alike.-MirandaCheck out Centennial Brooks, a Gwendolyn Brooks tribute celebration, April 6-8, 2017 at the University of Chicago, presented alongside Our Miss Brooks 100, a city-wide program for Chicagoans of all ages interested in Brooks’ poetry and life.
Perhaps it's not hard to believe that the early years of the Soviet Union were a rich time for children's literature, or that such notable surrealists and revolutionaries as Mayakovsky, Mandelstam, and Kharms wrote poems for children. You'll be surprised, however, by how artfully these poets paired audibly political language with eye-popping illustrations by some of Russia's finest artists. Each of the three poems/short stories collected in The Fire Horse combine two unique talents together forming an evocative read-aloud and picture of a place and time with wisdom for us still. -Colin
How do you gain control of your life when you have no short-term memory? Seventeen-year-old Flora’s memory wipes itself clean several times a day. She navigates the world by reading and rereading notes she’s written to herself, as well as by rereading a letter from her mother she carries with her always:
Dear Flora, you are 17... when you were ten doctors discovered a tumor growing in your brain and when you were 11 they removed it. Part of your memory went with it... you have not been able to make new memories.
But when Flora receives her first kiss, she remembers—she remembers!—and she adds this memory to her growing pile of notes. We readers revisit the same notes and letters along with Flora, but because unlike Flora we remember what’s already happened, we leave each visit with a new overlay of understanding. Thus it is that the reader has cause to wonder what really happened with the kiss, to wonder what’s really going on in her family, to wonder whether she can possibly succeed when she travels to Norway in search of her one memory. -Franny
A playful poem Keats wrote for his sister, deliciously illustrated by Caldecott-winner Chris Raschka.
57th Street Books' Children's Manager Franny Billingsley with this month's top recommendations of Picture Books, Novels, and Poetry! Click here to see the list!
1... 2... 3 Questions for Alba Girons Masot
Who was Sant Jordi?
A: Sant Jordi was a brave knight who lived in Catalonia. He enjoyed riding his horse by the Mediterranean coast, through the Catalan forests and up to the mountains. He became famous after helping a princess escape from a hungry dragon. After saving her, they both kept traveling together and had lots of exciting adventures.
What is Sant Jordi's Day, and what does it have to do with books?
A: Sant Jordi’s Day is April 23rd, and it’s an important celebration in Catalonia. People buy and offer books and roses to their loved ones, a bit like Valentine's Day, but with books. It’s an excellent occasion to celebrate literature and books. Children at school write stories, perform the St. Jordi’s legend, make amazing drawings of dragons, knights and princesses, and they also exchange books and roses, of course. Streets in Barcelona and other Catalan towns are filled with book stands and people strolling with a rose and a book in their hands.
I hope Sant Jordi’s Day becomes a new celebration for all the bookworms in Hyde Park, too!
Legend has it that Sant Jordi defeated a dragon. What would you do if you saw a dragon?
A: See picture (above)Alba Girons Masot is the Catalan Lecturer at the University of Chicago. She got her PhD in Translation and Intercultural Studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain). She was born in Barcelona, but in the last few years she has lived, studied and worked in France, Germany, Italy, and the US. Before coming to Chicago she taught Catalan Studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC.Celebrate Sant Jordi's Day, Saturday, April 22 at 57th Street Books!
Grab a seat! 57th Street Books offers TWO weekly storytimes, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:30am. For children of all ages (but especially those 0-6)
Very early in life I became fascinated with the wonders language can achieve. And I began playing with words.