National Poetry Month is for kids too, so look for poets, parents, teachers and even a few TV stars to use the month of April to encourage children not just to read poetry but to write their own verse as well.
April also ushers in the third annual Young People's Poetry Week (April 16—22), sponsored by the Children's Book Council in cooperation with the Academy of American Poets. During the month, events will be popping up all over the country, at both chain and independent bookstores.
Kathy Kinney ("Mimi" on The Drew Carey Show) hosts this year's celebration on April 21 at Storyopolis in Los Angeles, and children from ages five to 17 are encouraged to bring their berets and bongos and share their favorite poetry and original works at the open mike. Also on April 21, Ross Venokur will read from and sign copies of his new book of poetry, Haiku! Gesundheit (S&S, Mar.), at Storyopolis.
Other events on the West Coast include teen poetry workshops by Patrice Vecchione, editor of Truth and Lies: An Anthology of Poems (Holt, Jan.), at Bookshop Santa Cruz on April 3 and at the Monterey Public Library on April 7 and 12. On the East Coast, New York City's Bank Street Bookstore hosts its sixth annual Poetry Reading for Kids, by Kids on April 28.
More information about events across the nation, and other activities in conjunction with National Poetry Month and Young People's Poetry Week, can be found on the Children's Book Council Web site at www.cbcbooks.org and the Academy of American Poets' Web site at www.poets.org.
Also getting into the act are children's publishers, which look to April as the prime time to release and promote the newest additions to their growing poetry lines. Some books in the spotlight include everything from classics, such as The Children's Longfellow (Houghton, Apr.); to poems on family, such as Roots and Flowers: Poets and Poems on Family (Holt, Apr.); to poems on camping, like Kristine O'Connell George's Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems (Clarion, Apr.). Harcourt has three poetry books this April: lizards, frogs, and polliwogs by Douglas Florian, Oddhopper Opera by Kurt Cyrus and The Moon & Riddles Diner and the Sunnyside Café by Nancy Willard, illustrated by Chris Butler. Megan Tingley Books at Little, Brown has Skunks! by David T. Greenberg, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger (Apr.); Candlewick is releasing I'm Small and Other Verses by Lilian Moore, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Apr.); A Poke in the I, selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka; and Boyds Mills has Mommy Poems, compiled by John Micklos Jr., illustrated by Lori McElrath-Eslick (Mar.), and Dear Mother, Dear Daughter by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrated by Gil Ashby (Mar.). Lee & Low offers Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers, edited by Pat Mora, illustrated by Paula S. Barragán (Apr.), as well as DeShawn Days by Tony Medina, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie; and Sterling's newest addition to its Poetry for Young People series is Robert Browning, edited by Eileen Gillooly.
HarperCollins will publish several poetry books this spring, including In the Heart by Ann Turner, illustrated by Salley Mavor (May); Park Beat by Jonathan London, illustrated by Woodleigh Marx Hubbard (May); I Can Draw a Weeposaurus and Other Dinosaurs by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist (Greenwillow, Mar.); A Mother's Heart, A Daughter's Love by Joyce Carol Thomas (Joanna Cotler Books, Apr.); and Timothy Tunny Swallowed a Bunny by Bill Grossman, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Laura Geringer Books, Mar.).
For older readers, Workman is publishing Angst! Teen Verses from the Edge, edited by Karen Tom, illustrated by Matt Frost (Apr.); and Abrams has Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by 20th Century American Art, edited by Jan Greenberg (Apr.).
The CBC's Web site also includes a showcase of poetry selections at www.cbcbooks.org/ html/showcase.html. Houghton Mifflin and Clarion Books will offer a free promotional tape featuring poets Kristine O'Connell George and Calef Brown reading from their collections, with an introduction by Bernice Cullinan. The cassette is available through Houghton Mifflin sales reps or by calling (800) 225-3362.