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!
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 Black, Joseph 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 Nye, Carole Boston Weatherford, Joseph Bruchac, David Bowles, Ibtisam Barakat, Eileen Spinelli, David L. Harrison, Kate Coombs, Robyn Hood Black, Michelle 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.
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!
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All poems and illustrations © respective authors. All rights reserved.
Post content © 2017 Renée M. LaTulippe. All rights reserved.
Thanks so much, Renee. So lovely of you to feature our whole darn Power Book series and in such a clear and lively way. We appreciate ALL your skills– in writing, editing, and sharing!
Yes, thanks for sharing the series and my anchor poem. The books are so thoughtfully designed to support kids’ writing. I love the way you describe the rich range of features that are part of each book. Happy Poetry Friday!
These Power Books by team Vardell/Wong are amazing. I actually did every exercise in the You Just Wait book and published my results on my blog – great practice. I look forward to reading Pet Crazy. I think my dog, Smidgey will like the Book Hound poem best. Yip! =)
We LOVE what you did on your blog, Bridget! The way you followed the exercises in YOU JUST WAIT–with such outstanding results–was really inspiring. I especially love the way you shared your teen self in this one! http://www.weewordsforweeones.com/2016/10/you-just-wait-powerpack-poem-3-things-i.html
Janet and Sylvia in their natural habitat… love! Excited to see more about PET CRAZY. Fun! xo
I have used Here We Go and You Just Wait with students before, always with roaring success, so I’m beyond thrilled for Pet Crazy, especially because most of my kids could happily talk about animals all day long. 🙂
These are wonderful for poets of all ages, but make me wish I was still in the classroom, too. I still need to get Pet Crazy, but I will! Thanks for sharing so much from the books, Renee.
Wonderful books. I am honored to have Here We Go, and I love that it turns the blank page into an invitation.
This will be such a helpful post to educators and poets (of all ages) who want to know which book is the right one for them. Well done, Renée! I know you’re as proud as I am to be a part of this fantastic series—you’re an invaluable reader AND writer! And kudos to Sylvia and Janet, of course, not only for their genius concept, but for these three beautiful books that make a tangible difference in the lives of young people.
AWESOME post, Renee – I love seeing the whole pack together like this. And three howls for Pet Crazy, which I can’t wait to read. :0)
Terrific post for some terrific books, Renee. I love how Janet’s poems model a couple of responses, followed by an invitation to kids to write their own. Hope these find their way into lots of teachers hands!
Thanks for sharing this, Renee – I have copies of the 1st two books, but hadn’t seen this one yet. Such a great concept, for kids as well as educators!
Sylvia and Janet strike again! What a wonderful presentation, Renee!
Janet and Sylvia provide such a fantastic service to teachers and students alike!
Very excited for this third installment. A chorus of meows and barks can be heard if you listen closely! 🙂
I loved the first two in the series, and so did my students! I’m looking forward to PET CRAZY.
All three of these look like fun! Even though I’m no longer teaching, I want to read them just for myself.
Great post! Glad to see you on the roundup again! Don’t be a stranger!!
I’m trying to un-stranger myself, Mary Lee! Baby steps… 😀
I love these books. Thanks for highlighting them this week.
Two beacons of light in the children’s poetry world. Sylvia and Janet! Thank goodness for these books, heck, all the books under the Pomelo umbrella. They do such a poetic service for so many!
I’m continually amazed! Thanks for highlighting Janet and Sylvia’s books. They’re such an amazing resource…the books and these two wonderful ladies 🙂
Great overview of this series, Renee!
What a lovely post about Janet and Sylvia’s dedication. Thanks, Renee!