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Posts Tagged ‘Cybils reading’

A few months ago in the midst of holiday time, I was reading poetry books for the round one judging for CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards). Our committee selected 7 finalists. You can see them here.

This post is about the one that got away. One of my favorite poetry collections was left off the short list: The Dirt Book by David L. Harrison.

Underneath our feet is a whole world. Looking at interesting underground nature is the topic of David L. Harrison’s The Dirt Book. The format of the physical book is unique. Rather than landscape orientation, it is oriented as portrait. The illustrations by Kate Crosgrove dance along the pages. 

As a grandmother of toddler boys, the first page grabs their interest with the words “This Book is about Dirt.” Each poem features facts as well as lyrical language. “Scraggly twisted clusters/ creep/ thirstily,/ dig deep,/ branch out/ in crooked slants,/ mine water/ for their plants.” From At the Roots of Things.

As a teacher of elementary students, I will use this book to inspire students to explore the natural world, ask questions about the animals living there, and write their own language-rich poems. 

The Dirt Book is more than dirt; It offers a loving look at the world we live in and invites us to be present in it. The final poem, And Now We Know, begins with “Beneath our feet, beyond our sight,/ below the roots where green grass grows,/ there’s more to dirt than we’d suppose.” Take your students, your children, grandchildren, and yourself on a trip below the earth and find an intriguing world waiting. 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Linda Baie at Teacher Dance.
I am reading poetry for Round One of Cybils. To see the nominations for 2021, click here.

This week I read the verse novel Starfish by Lisa Fipps. I’m amazed that this is her debut novel. She uses verse effectively; It’s not a prose story told with line breaks. I was drawn in by the story and by the character of Ellie, but I also enjoyed each verse as its own poem.

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

I sent this poem to my friend- Inkling writer Linda Mitchell. She is a librarian in a middle school in Virginia and I know she is the type of librarian who would create a safe place for kids like Ellie.

Below is my review on Goodreads:

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I have never been a fat person until I read Starfish by Lisa Fipps. I became Ellie and felt every pain of the torture her family and classmates put her through. Reading this book, I was reminded of the bullying I endured as a skinny teenage girl with a flat chest. No bullying is pretty and it happens to lots of different people for lots of different reasons.

The way that Lisa Fipps can magically place you into the body and mind of Ellie through sparse, yet powerful verse is transformative. It made me as an adult examine the language that I use to talk to others. Like Wonder by R.J. Palacio, I want to place this book into the hands of all my students in middle grades. There is an important message here: “I deserve to be seen./ To be noticed./ To be heard./ To be treated like a human./ I starfish./ There’s plenty of room/ for/ each/ and/ every/ one of us/ in the world.” You matter. Ellie matters. I matter.





View all my reviews

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