Friday, September 5, 2014

Poetry Friday - Poetry in Novels

I was reminded as I finished up Kate Messner's upcoming middle grade novel, All the Answers, that I love when poetry is featured in intermediate or young adult novels.  Here are some of my favorites (I didn't include novels in verse since I did a post on that previously):

Hope Is a Ferris Wheel

Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera
As you can see, I loved this book for a lot of reasons besides poetry, but Star Mackey's involvement in the Emily Dickinson club  is a strong part of what shapes her character.  I think it is a beautiful story about an endearing fifth grader who lives up to her name, Star. She IS a star and gives me hope that kids can dream big, no matter what their circumstances.

Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity, #2)

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
The character Rose Justice is amazing. Not only is she a daring American ATA pilot and poet, but she is a survivor. What amazes me is that Elizabeth Wein can not only write this compelling story, but she includes Rose's beautiful poetry, which of course, she wrote, too.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Flora & Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo
"Holy bagumba!" I loved this book! Kate DiCamillo is a magician with words and stories. I love how she combines fantasy, friendship, and quirkiness in all her books to make unforgettable characters. This one involves a squirrel who gains superhero powers after being sucked into the Ulysses 2000X vacuum cleaner and captures the heart of Flora who names him Ulysses, of course. He is a poet and valiant friend, keeping Flora company in her self-professed cynical world.

Hold Fast

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett
I love Blue Balliett's books. I think she does an amazing job of creating smart, resourceful children as her main characters, an intriguing mystery intertwined with art, and in this book, important issues. Early Pearl and her brother love their father's poetic rhythms and good humor. The Early family live in Chicago and love each other very much. Their father loves books and the poet Langston Hughes and has a job delivering books for the public library. One mysterious day, though, he disappears without a trace. 

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.

Back to Kate Messner!  You'll love this story of Gianna, a seventh-grader who loves to run and draw, but can't seem to get herself together at school.    I love the metaphors of people and trees, Robert Frost's "Birches" as a touchstone poem throughout the story, and the complex layers of character and plot here.
Do you have favorite middle grade and young adult novels that contain poetry (besides novels in verse)?  Laura has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Author Amok.


  1. Poetry Friday brings me here, Holly.
    I've read (& written) about Ms. Flora & her father's capacious heart but all the other titles
    are now on my To Read list, thanks to you.
    We share an affection over the delight of finding poetry within a novel.
    Appreciations also for your novels in verse blog.
    I'm newish to PF & I'm glad you've joined up.

  2. Holly, this is a wonderful compilation of books. So far the only only I read is Kate Messner's book. I look forward to the others. A Snicker of Magic can be added to your list for the sheer delight of words floating in air waiting for them to land on a printed page or in conversation. I have been spending the first few days of school in a very unique PD experience on an island in the Long Island Sound so now I am back in the loop and ready to unveil the Summer Serenity Gallery this weekend.

  3. What a great list you have here, Holly. I've definitely heard of these titles but haven't had a chance to read them yet (with the exception of Flora and Ulysses). Will definitely check them out.

  4. Love that you have highlighted books where poetry is featured, vs verse novels. Nice delineation. (great list!!)

  5. Thanks for this terrific list-- a few new ones for me to read!