1. Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems By J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Michael Slack. $16.99. This “festival of math and mirth” is likely to pull in even math whiz kids who have resisted poetry! Grades 1–4.

2. Chips and Cheese and Nana’s Knees: What Is Alliteration? By Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Martin Goneau. $17.95. Grammar is anything but boring in this rambunctious rhyming book of astounding alliteration. Grades 2–5.

3. Hypnotize a Tiger: Poems About Just About Everything By Calef Brown. $17.99. Absurdity reigns in this exuberant collection that delves into everything from hypnotizing tigers to interviewing termites and pondering toupees. Grades 3–8.

4. The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects Selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka. $17.99. Over 1,600 years of verse, from a medieval meditation on the bookworm to Billy Collins’s ode to the hat. Grades 4–8.


Q&A - Calef Brown

Author, Hypnotize a Tiger

Is humor a key strategy in teaching kids poetry?
Children are naturally drawn to nonsense. It introduces a universe where anything is possible. I was fascinated by the nonsense poetry and verse of Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, Dr. Seuss, and others. Right away, I wanted to create and illustrate some of my own.

How do you use wordplay to inspire young writers?
I try to provide numerous starting points for them to build a poem. I suggest a subject that’s easy for the children to access and ask them to make lists of words that come to mind without worrying how they’ll use them.

What have you learned from kids on school visits?
I love to see the fantastic connections their minds make. This helps me stay in touch with the child I was—one who loved play but also the challenges of creating something that took on a life of its own.


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Photo: Bruce Heavin