Tuesday, April 25, 2017

National Poetry Month: Verse Novel Reviews

When I set out to read as many verse novels as I could this month, I had hoped to read more than six of them. I got through my library pile fairly quickly, but haven't made it back to the library to get more. What can I say? April has been busier than I had anticipated!

Stil, I read several new verse novels and reread an old favorite. It's been a good reading month! It's rare that I manage to read two whole novels in a month, much less six of them!

Here is a list of the verse novels I read for the first time this month, along with a quick review of each. I hope this inspires you to do a little verse novel reading of your own.

GROW by Juanita Havill

Gardens and friendship - two things that grow well together. This book is a sweet story about a young girl helping her neighbor start a community garden on a vacant lot. As the garden grows, friendships develop. And when the owner of the vacant lot decides to build on it, the friends must work together to find a way to keep their garden growing.


I loved RHYME SCHEMER by this same author (see my review here), so when I heard about HOUSE ARREST, I had to read it. It is the engaging and heart wrenching story of a young boy who must write in a journal as a condition of his house arrest, a consequence of a desperate act of theft. He had stolen a wallet in hopes that it would help his family buy his baby brother's medicine. Throughout the story we see his attempts to convince the "authorities" that he's not a bad kid, his family's struggle to keep afloat while dealing with the baby's illness, friendships strained, other friendships grow, and a journey from desperation to hope. It's a book that will make you laugh and cry.

LITTLE DOG, LOST by Marion Dane Bauer

Anyone who enjoys stories of lost dogs finding love in a new home will enjoy this book. It is written in third person point of view, which is something I've never encountered before in a verse novel. But it works. I like the way the author tells the story from a few different angles and brings them all together in a satisfying and heartwarming conclusion. It's a quick read too. It took me a little over an hour.

LITTLE CAT'S LUCK by Marion Dane Bauer

This book is a companion to LITTLE DOG, LOST. I liked that book, but I LOVED this one. I found the writing to be a little bit more poetic, though the author employs the same storytelling method as in  LITTLE DOG, LOST. This book focuses more on the animals, and the friendship that develops between the two main animal characters is wonderfully sweet and completely believable. It is a fun, charming, wonderful book that had me fighting back tears.

UNBOUND by Ann E. Burg

Ann E. Burg has a gift for writing gripping, emotional, multi-cultural stories. UNBOUND is the story of a slave girl named Grace and her family's quest for freedom. I enjoyed Grace's voice and her spunky, indignant attitude that ends up being the catalyst for the events that lead to her family's escape into the swamp.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

National Poetry Month Plans

I didn't make any official blogging plans for National Poetry Month this year. This is mainly because I've been so busy writing! Corey and I have some manuscripts in the works. I recently wrote and polished a new picture book manuscript. And, I've been furiously revising a middle grade novel in verse.

So, with novels in verse on my mind, I decided that during April I would read as many novels in verse as I could get my hands on. I began with the middle grade book GROW by Juanita Havill. It is a sweet story about a little girl working with her neighbor to create a community garden on a vacant lot.

Yesterday I reread LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech, which is one of the most brilliant books I've ever read. Read it. It'll take you less than an hour, but it will stick with you forever!

My current read, which I will possibly finish today, is HOUSE ARREST by K. A. Holt. She is the author of RHYME SCHEMER, which I reviewed last year. So far, HOUSE ARREST is every bit as good.

So that's my unofficial, unplanned, unorganized National Poetry Month observance. How are you celebrating poetry this month?