Posted in My Favourite Poetry Books

Charles Ghigna: My Favourite Poetry Books

In 1999, I stayed in Canada for a couple of months, and there, in a children’s book shop, the door to the world of Canadian and American poets was opened for me. Charles Ghigna was one of the poets I discovered, and now I have come to know many Canadian and American poets, who are of course just as delightful and talented as the British variety. I’m so pleased to be able to host Charles (or Father Goose® as he is often known) on Poetry Roundabout this week. He lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama and is the author of more than one hundred books and more than five thousand poems for children and adults. I am reading his wonderful new book, Dear Poet at the minute. A review is in the offing! 

Thank you so much for inviting me to choose my favourite children’s poetry books! Here are my choices with a couple of lines of explanation.

THE 20TH CENTURY CHILDREN’S POETRY TREASURY selected by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Meilo So, published by Knopf. Who could resist this perennial classic? I’ve been recommending this one to teachers, librarians and parents during my school visits and conference talks since it first appeared twenty years ago. It contains more than 200 poems by more than 100 of the leading poets writing for children in the twentieth century. This is one of the first anthologies illustrated by Meilo So. Her dreamy watercolours set the perfect background to this memorable, must-have collection.

KNOCK AT A STAR: A CHILD’S INTRODUCTION TO POETRY edited by X.J. Kennedy and Dorothy Kennedy, illustrated by Karen Lee Baker, published by Little, Brown. Another perennial classic. With poems by Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and many others, the Kennedys filled this two hundred page volume with a wide variety of well-chosen favourite poems. Their clever introductions to each verse form creates the perfect introduction to poetry for eager young readers. Teachers and parents love it too!

WORLD MAKE WAY: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, published by Abrams. I’m a big fan of all the poetry anthologies compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins. This is one my favourites. Ekphrasis poems at their finest. Seeing poets interpret the artworks of Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Fernando Botero and others inspires us all to visit museums with pen and paper in hand.

THE PROPER WAY TO MEET A HEDGEHOG edited by Paul Janeczko, published by Candlewick. This is one of my new favourite poetry anthologies for children. Not only is this an irresistible book of irresistible poems, it is a book of some of my favourite poet friends! This book stands as a stunning tribute to Paul Janeczko who died just before the book was published.

THE POETRY OF US edited by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. More than 200 poems take us on a journey to explore and celebrate the people and places of the United States. Gorgeous photos showcase the poems that reveal the rich diversity of cultures that make up the American dream.

THE BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY edited by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. If you are looking for a captivating book of poems about animals for kids, this is it! Put this book out on a table and watch children gather around to marvel over the photos and to read aloud the wit and wisdom of poets who bring this menagerie alive.

THE BOOK OF NATURE POETRY editor by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. Another PW starred review anthology of poems by J. Patrick Lewis. Listen to kids oooh and ahhh over the photos as they read through the more than 200 poems that pay homage to Nature in all her glory.
DEAR POET: NOTES TO A YOUNG WRITER by Charles Ghigna, published by Resource Publications.
Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

X is for American Children’s Poet and Educator X. J. Kennedy, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA


X.J. Kennedy

X. J. Kennedy was born Joseph Kennedy in 1929 in Dover, New Jersey, USA (now in Lexington, Massachusetts). When he started to publish his poems, he adopted the pen name to be different from other Joe Kennedys (one of whom was American ambassador to Great Britain).

Since 1961 he has written ten books of verse for big people, a novel, schoolbooks, and 22 books for children, including One Winter Night in August, The Forgetful Wishing Well, and Brats, and most recently City Kids: Street & Skyscraper Rhymes illustrated by Phillippe Béha (Tradewinds Books, Vancouver and London, 2010): Uk version here and US version here.

Kennedy is a Navy veteran and a graduate of the school for foreign French teachers of the Sorbonne, though he has never taught French. He has also taught English, American literature, and poetry writing (if it can be taught) at several colleges including the University of Leeds. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, and is the father of five grown-ups and six grandkids who still have a ways to grow. His website is here.


Here is one of his wonderful poems:


“Whose Boo Is Whose?”

Two ghosts I know once traded heads
And shrieked and shook their sheets to shreds—
“You’re me!” yelled one, “and me, I’m you!
Now who can boo the loudest boo?”

“Me!” cried the other, and for proof
He booed a boo that scared the roof
Right off our house. Our TV set
Jumped higher than a jumbo jet.

The first ghost snickered. “Why, you creep,
Call that a boo? That feeble peep?
Hear this!”—and sucking in a blast
Of wind, he puffed his sheet so vast

And booed so hard a passing goose
Lost all its down. The moon came loose
And fell and smashed to smithereens..
Stars scattered like spilled jelly beans.[

“How’s that for booing, boy? I win!”
Said one. The other scratched a chin
Where only bone was – “Win or lose?
How can we tell whose boo is whose?”


© X.J. Kennedy (From Exploding Gravy: Poems to Make You Laugh, Little, Brown and Company, New York and Boston.
Reprinted by permission of the author.)

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