Every night my lizard slithers
Down from his plastic tree.
He crawls in his log and rests
His head and goes to bed like me.
(c) 2013, Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved
This week my favorite book of children’s poetry is Surprises, an early reader, poetry anthology edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. The poems included are perfect examples of the kind of children’s poems I love. The subject matter is kid-friendly and kid-interesting. The language is simple and easy to understand, while also being rhythmic, rhyming and surprising. Only some of the poems are funny, but they all have a punch-line that makes you laugh or sigh or tilt your head to reconsider something from a different angle. I also love that the book is small, easy to hold, easy to afford, and easy to read and reread.
The first poem in the collection is “Plans,” a poem about a child’s someday cats by Maxine Kumin. What really struck me about this poem was the enjambment. Yes, the enjambment. It’s a four-line poem and at the end of each line the content just keeps going, giving the poem a lovely flow and momentum. The enjambment also provides a refreshing contrast to the many children’s poems that have end stops at the end of every line.
After reading and rereading Surprises and “Plans” all week, I gave myself an assignment—to write a kid-friendly, original animal poem using enjambment. Thus the poem above.
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