Tag Archives: poetry

A Meal of the Stars: Poems Up and Down

“A Meal of the Stars: Poems Up and Down”

In this poetry picture book, poetry is turned on its head. Some poems are meant to be read from the bottom up while others are meant to be read from the top to the bottom. Readers need to figure out whether the poem should be read up or down.

Read up or down?

Read down or up?

Illustrations marry beautifully with the up and down poems to reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary. 

This book promotes creative components of perspective and imagination.

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK:  I like this book because the poem structure adds depth to the meaning of each poem. I adore the illustrations, which also bring another layer to reading these poems.

TITLE: A Meal of the Stars: Poems Up and Down

AUTHOR: Dana Jensen


PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012


TOPIC(S): poetry

CREATIVE COMPONENTS: perspective, imagination


1) Think of things that fall or rise up. Pick one of these things and write a “skinny” poem where the reader has to figure out whether to read it up or read it down.

2) Let’s turn things around. Think of things that are long in length. For example, a semi-truck is long.  Write a short poem about your long item by writing it lengthwise – one long line.


To learn more about author Dana Jensen, visit:

A webpage for Dana Jensen could not be located, but here is a little bit about him: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-meal-of-the-stars-dana-jensen/1110914062

To learn more about illustrator Tricia Tusa, visit:


Hoop Kings

“Hoop Kings”

In this book, Hoop Kings, poet Charles R. Smith Jr. captures the essence of each basketball player with metaphoric analogies that shoot readers straight into the game.  

This story promotes creative components of imagination, flexible thinking, and passion.

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I like this book because these fast-paced poems inject readers into the game through word choice, poem line set up, and passion for the game while introducing the reader to each player’s style of play, skill set, and court personality.

TITLE:Hoop Kings

POEMS by: Charles R. Smith Jr.

PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press, 2004


TOPIC(S): poetry, basketball, word choice and analogies

CREATIVE COMPONENTS: imagination, flexible thinking, passion


1) Things that interest you so much that you want to learn more and more about them through reading, doing, and experimenting are called passions. What are some of your interests/passions? Create an independent study on one of your passions to learn more about it with the goal of producing an end product. Use your end product to teach others about your passion.

2) Who is one of your favorite sports players? It can be a famous athlete or someone you know. Jot down a list of adjectives that describe how this person plays her/his sport. Read your list and visualize that player, what does s/he remind you of? Next incorporate that into a metaphor to write a poem about your player.


To learn more about poet Charles R. Smith Jr., visit:


Listen to Charles R. Smith Jr., read some of his poems from Hoop Kingsin this Follow the Poems Series:

For additional classroom exercises, visit:




Poet Verlie Hutchens has a gift for words that bring trees to life in such a way that readers can truly relate to.  

Read these lines: “Little Red Bud plays hide-and-seek,” “pink-purple giggles,” “Sycamore, the fashion queen, wears a jigsaw-puzzle gown…” and “White Pine, unruly uncle…”

Each tree’s unique personality and character is perfectly described, sometimes humorously.

Each tree is illustrated in its natural environment. Jing Jing Tsong’s illustrative technique combines traditional printmaking and digital collage.

This story promotes creative components of imagination, flexible thinking, and perspective.

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I like this book because I enjoy picturing the trees as the characters that the poet describes. I appreciate that the illustrations depict the trees as they would be found in nature, including animals and people. 


POEMS by: Verlie Hutchens

ILLUSTRATOR: Jing Jing Tsong

PUBLISHER: Beach Lane Books, 2019


TOPIC(S): trees, poetry, personification

CREATIVE COMPONENTS: imagination, perspective, flexible thinking


1) Take a nature walk in your community. Observe the trees that you find along the way. Write a poem about one of the trees you found.

2) Practice your creative flexible thinking. Think up at least five answers to each of the following questions. How is a tree like a blanket? How is a tree like a bicycle? How is a tree like a star?


To learn more about author Verlie Hutchens, visit:


To learn more about illustrator Jing Jing Tsong, visit: