THE POETRY FRIDAY POWER BOOKS by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong


Happy book birthday to Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong!

Over the past year or so I’ve had the pleasure of being an advance reader for Sylvia and Janet’s new series, A Poetry Friday Power Book. And today the third book in the series, Pet Crazy, is born!

Sylvia and Janet in their natural habitat

The Poetry Friday Power Books are wonderful and rather ingenious tools for teachers looking for imaginative ways to share poetry with their students, and for students interested in writing their own poems.

Why ingenious? Because each book features 12 “anchor poems” by a variety of poets. Janet then takes these poems and weaves them together into a complete story by writing additional poems that students can use as models for their own writing. I have been repeatedly amazed by Janet’s ability to join these disparate anchor poems into what amounts to a verse novella!

To top it all off, Sylvia then creates inventive pre-reading activities to get students thinking about a theme, and post-reading writing prompts that give students a chance to write a particular kind of poem. Again, I have been continually struck with their combined genius, especially with Pet Crazy in which they have cleverly hidden additional language skills for students to discover and strengthen.

So today I thought I’d give you a peek at a chapter of each of these books!

You Just Wait

is the first book in the series and is geared toward tweens and teens. The story in this book is all about dreams for the future and features Paz, an Asian-Latina soccer player with dreams of stardom in college, the Olympics, and ultimately the World Cup; Lucesita, her feisty movie-loving cousin; and Joe, an older brother with dreams of the NBA.

Here’s a great graphic from the Pomelo Books site that breaks down exactly how these Power Books work
(click images to enlarge)

The twelve anchor poems in this book were written by Robyn Hood BlackJoseph Bruchac, Jen Bryant, Margarita Engle, Julie Larios, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Charles Ghigna, Avis Harley, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Charles Waters, and Virginia Euwer Wolff.

Here is PowerPack 4. As in all the books, each “PowerPack” features an illustration and list of contents, followed by a fun pre-writing activity. In this case, students are asked to create a conversation in text messages. The pre-writing activity is always designed to prepare students for the final writing prompt.

Students then read the anchor poem, in this case the poem “Names” by Julie Larios. This is followed by a “response poem” in the voice of one of the characters created for the narrative, and then a “mentor text” poem, also in the voice of a character. Finally, the student is prompted to write her own cinquain poem.

Here We Go

is the second book in the series, and is geared toward kids, tweens, and teens. The story in this book features a diverse group of kids who are concerned about social justice and work together to fight hunger with a walkathon and a school garden.

I’m pleased to be an “anchor poet” in this book, along with Naomi Shihab NyeCarole Boston Weatherford, Joseph Bruchac, David Bowles, Ibtisam BarakatEileen Spinelli, David L. HarrisonKate CoombsRobyn Hood BlackMichelle Heidenrich Barnes, and Margaret Simon.

Here’s a peek at PowerPack 8, featuring the anchor poem “Look for the Helpers” by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

…and activities that cleverly guide the student to write a poem using tercets.

And finally,

Pet Crazy

is the third book in the series, and is for kids in grades K-3. It tells the sweet story of a boy and his quest for a pet, accompanied by adorable illustrations by Franzi Paetzold.

The anchor poems in this book are by Kristy Dempsey, Helen Frost, Janice Harrington, Eric Ode, Laura Shovan, Eileen Spinelli, Elizabeth Steinglass, Don Tate, Padma Venkatraman, April Halprin Wayland, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Tamera Will Wissinger.

Here is PowerPack 7. In this pre-writing activity, students are asked to think of words that begin with each of the circled letters…

…then they read the acrostic anchor poem “Book Hound” by Elizabeth Steinglass, the response poem, and the mentor text. Finally, the student is prompted to write her own acrostic poem.

Did I mention these books are ingenious?

So congratulations, Janet and Sylvia, and thank you for making poetry so accessible to both teachers and students!

Head over to Check It Out where Jone is hosting Poetry Friday.

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See more poems in my poetry video library.
All poems and illustrations © respective authors. All rights reserved.
Post content © 2017 Renée M. LaTulippe. All rights reserved.