Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Post: Children's Librarian/Writer Sarah O'Holla's Recommendations For National Poetry Month!

Sarah O'Holla was one of the first people I ever knew to keep a blog. A real blog, which she updated frequently and with care to reflect her love and knowledge of the world of children's and YA literature. Without further ado, here's Sarah!
I don’t want to
because boys
don’t write poetry.

Girls do.
That is the first poem in Sharon Creech’s novel written in verse Love That Dog. Doesn’t it make you want to keep reading? Don’t you feel like you’re not even reading poetry? 

I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to love poetry, but most of the time, I feel like I just don’t get it. That is why I love, love, love novels written in verse. I need a string of poems put together to tell me a really good story, to keep me reading poetry. I need to forget that I’m reading poetry to enjoy it, and that’s exactly what my favorite novels written in verse manage to do.

In honor of national poetry month, and me being a children’s librarian, where we like, LIVE for April, Sarv asked me to guest post on her blog and I was glad to oblige. In the name of poetry lovers out there who don’t really like poetry all the time, this post is for you. 

These are some of my favorite children’s and young adult novels written in verse. Give one a try in honor of National Poetry Month and I have a feeling that you won’t feel the same way about poetry ever again.

1. Love the Dog by Sharon Creech
We follow Jack’s poetry journal and see how his opinion of poetry goes from thinking Robert Frost had a little too much time on his hands to discovering his all time favorite poem.  Don’t forget to check out the sequel too--Hate that Cat!

2. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Two words come to mind when describing this book, “gut wrenching.” Don’t read this book without a box of tissues handy, you’ve been officially warned. Out of the Dust takes place in the Oklahoma dust bowl during the great depression and is told from the point of view of Billie Jo, a fourteen-year-old girl whose mother has just died, and her father caused the accident that led to her death. Yeah, it’s dramatic, and so good, and so beautifully written like only Karen Hesse can do. Go read everything she has ever written--NOW I say!

3. Heaven Looks a Lot like the Mall by Wendy Mass
This book also starts with one of the best first stanzas ever written:
For fifty cents and a Gobstopper
I lifted my shirt for the neighborhood boys.
My older brother Matt caught us
and chased the boys with a
Wiffle bat.
Word got around, and at nine years old
I became the girl
other girls’ moms
Didn’t want them to play with.
I know, right? It involves being in a coma and stuck in the mall. Just go read it.

4.What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
This is one of my all time favorite books ever. Do you remember what it felt like the very first time you fell in love? No? Yes? Well even if you think you do, read this book and it will all come flooding back to you full force. The entire novel gives you goosebumps and butterflies throughout. One of the best YA love stories ever written!

5. And finally, Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff 
...which might just be in my top ten favorite YA novels of all time list (What My Mother Doesn’t Know is on that list too).  I LOVE THIS BOOK!  It is the first in a trilogy and I can honestly say I love the entire trilogy, but I think Make Lemonade, the first book, is my favorite.  These books tell the story of two inner city girls, LaVaughn and Jolly, who are trying to live the best lives that they can. It is heartbreaking and hopeful all at once and plain and simple, just a really good story.

Thanks for having me, Sarv! And readers of Sarv’s blog, if you’re interested in more of my thoughts on children’s and YA books, thoughts about being a librarian and writer and just my everyday life, please stop by my blog and say hello. Hope to see you there!


  1. Love That Dog and Out of the Dust are both excellent reads, Sarah. I will have to give the others a try! I heard Wendy Mass speak about a year ago-she was fun!

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  3. Whoops, re-entered because I accidentally said "prose" instead of verse. Here's what I meant to say:

    Sonya Sones' work is fabulous. I just picked up her "grownup" book, "The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus", which is also written in verse. Great stuff!