Saturday, May 18, 2013

Forest Has a Song

Title: Forest Has a Song 
Author: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater 
Illustrator: Robbin Gourley 
Publisher: Clarion Books 
Publication Date: March, 2013 
Genre/Format: Poetry/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: A spider is a “never-tangling dangling spinner / knitting angles, trapping dinner.” A tree frog proposes, “Marry me. Please marry me… / Pick me now. / Make me your choice. / I’m one great frog / with one strong voice.” VanDerwater lets the denizens of the forest speak for themselves in twenty-six lighthearted, easy-to-read poems. As she observes, “Silence in Forest / never lasts long. / Melody / is everywhere / mixing in / with piney air. / Forest has a song.” The graceful, appealing watercolor illustrations perfectly suit these charming poems that invite young readers into the woodland world at every season.  
What Kellee Thinks: Since I received Forest Has a Song, I have read it at least a handful of times. Each time enjoying it as much as I did the first.  Each time also helps me notice new brilliances within the poetry. Within this small yet powerful book, perspective, rhythm, rhyme, internal rhyme, onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, and imagery are all explored. This book could be an entire poetry unit mentor text itself.
      I think this book is crafted brilliantly- Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, accompanied by Robbin Gourley, takes the reader on a journey through seasons and through a forest.  And within this journey, we also get to explore different types of poetry- a poem in two voices, haiku, pastoral, rhyming, and free verse. 
      Another impressing aspect of this book is the amount of observation that went into these poems. It is obvious that Any sat and watched deer, frogs, trees, snow, woodpeckers, leaves, squirrels, and many other aspects of nature before writing these poems because they are pure perfection in tone, mood, and imagery.
      And the final touch to this beautiful book of poems is Gourley's watercolor art that sets the perfect mood for what this book is trying to set. 
     I cannot recommend this book enough to all of my teacher and parent friends. 
What Jen Thinks: After a long week, Forest Has a Song was a breath of fresh air for me to reread. I found myself relaxing just by reading this book. The watercolor artwork is beautiful and added to the wonderful text in the poetry. Growing up, I spent a lot of time outside and taking time to soak in nature is something that still soothes my soul. I love how the poems in this book would be great to read before taking students outside to sit and soak up nature. Students can find their own little spot to sit and focus on what is all around them for a few minutes and then have time to free write about what they hear, see, taste, smell, and feel. This is a great activity for brainstorming and adding ideas to their writers' notebooks. It's also a great introduction to the idea of writer's eye. Once students start to see how there are stories all around us, they begin to see the world with a writer's eye. Everything can be a story, but writer's seem to look at everyday things and to see how a story behind it. Just using a writer's notebook and charging students with recording pieces of their lives in their notebooks helps them be more conscious of the world around them and what stories might be lingering there. Having students sit in nature is a great way to focus on what is around them and to gather ideas in their notebooks. Having students sit in a busy place and to also sit and listen to conversations around them is another great way to start up stories. I often find myself driving along and thinking about stories for the people I see. Just today I saw a woman walking on the shoulder of a very busy road. She had one foot in a medical boot and her two wrists were in casts, too. All I could think was how she didn't seem to be in any condition to be slowly limping along a busy road...and then I was so curious how she got hurt and where she was coming from and where she was going and why was she all by herself and was she happy or or was she sad? Maybe mad or frustrated? The awesome thing about being a writer is that we get to create our own stories to go with these seed ideas that we collect from our lives. Ralph Fletcher has more ideas about writers notebooks and sections for recording ideas. I love seed ideas and have used observations as a section tab as well. Forest Has a Song is full of great poems to share and discuss with students as they embark on their journey as writers with writers' notebooks.
     Throughout this book there are examples of so many types of literary elements. No matter what device you would like to highlight, I'm pretty sure you'll find a sample of it in this book. Forest Has a Song is a wonderfully versatile mentor text!
Read Together:  Grades K - 12
Read Alone:  Grades 3 - 12
Read With:  The Year Comes Round by Sid Farrar, Outside your Window by Nicola Davies, Look Up! by Annette LeBlanc Cate, And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano, Step Gently Out by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder, The Road Not Taken and Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
Snatch of Text:  
Spider
"A never-tangling dangling spinner
knitting angles, trapping dinner."
(p. 14)

Song
"Under giant pines
I hear
a forest chorus
crisp and clear.

Winds whip.
Geese call.
Squirrels chase.
Leaves fall.
Trees creak.
Birds flap.
Deer run.
Twigs snap.

Silence in Forest
never lasts long.
Melody
is everywhere
mixing in
with piney air.

Forest has a song."
(p. 29)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing 
Writing Strategies to Practice: Imagery, Rhyme, Rhythm, Descriptive, Anaphora, Alliteration, Onomatopoeia, Assonance, Word Choice, Writer's Eye, Personification, Point of View
Writing Prompts: Take your writer's notebook outside and soak in what is all around you with all of your senses. Write a descriptive poem to describe what you notice. Then write a poem from the point of view of the nature your observed. 
Topics Covered: Nature, Integration - Science, Reflection, Discovery, Observation
We *Heart* It: 
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**Thank you to Blue Slip Media and Clarion Books for providing a copy for review**

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