Friday, February 19, 2016

Poetry Friday: Amazing Places by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Christy Hale and Chris Soentpiet

This is one of my favorite kid's poetry books from last year.  It is a collection of 11 original poems, each one is about an American landmark, not all of which will be familiar to kids, but all of which tell something about this country.  
There are the usual suspects, of course, like Nikki Grimes's poem "Tree Speaks" about the Grand Canyon, or Charles Waters' poem "Fenway Park," but some are not what we might think of right off the bat as famous landmarks, for instance, "Sandy Hook Lighthouse" by Joan Bransfield Graham  pays homage to the Sandy Hook Lighthouse in NJ, which also has special meaning to me, or Joseph Bruchac's poem "Longhouse Song" honoring the Oneida Nation Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  I remember teaching my 4th graders in the Bronx about Longhouses and giving an extra credit assignment to make on with a shoebox.  Every year, even my most reluctant students would make one for display.  It still warms my heart to think about it.
And that's one of the beauties of these poems.  They introduce young readers different places of America through poetry and maybe instill a desire to visit some of them.  For older readers, such as myself, they will touch our memories.  Even though "Midway Magic" by Rebecca Kai Dotlich was written about the State Fair of Texas, my memory immediately went the the four years I lived in Phoenix.  I always looked forward to the State Fair and never got tired of looking at things prized pigs and chickens, or delicious homemade pies and jams.  It's where I have my first corndog and loved it.

When I visited my Kiddo and her husband in San Francisco last year, we went to Chinatown for lunch and spent the day there.  Naturally, when I saw the poem "A Sunday Trip to Chinatown" by Alma Flor Ada, I knew I wanted to share it with you today.  It reminded me of so many fun trips to NYC's Chinatown when my Kiddo was growing up - the sights, the sounds, the smells, the crowds, and the delicious food.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I dd.

Thank you to Donna Smith at Mainely Write for hosting today's Poetry Friday Roundup.


  1. I love this anthology, and Amazing Faces too. The poems are both touching and connect to memories too. I saw Chris Soentpiet present once at a conference, and he was amazing in the details he considers in his art. Thanks for reminding about the book, Alex. I've only been to Chinatown once in San Francisco, & it was lots of fun.

  2. This "Amazing Places" anthology looks like a good collection. Love the Chinatown poem!

  3. A stunning achievement by Hopkins, Soentpiet and Hale! A timeless collection. :-)


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