by Bryan Patrick Avery
It’s been a busy summer and I’ve been on deadline for most of it. One the projects I’m working on is a mystery in verse so I thought I’d use this month’s post to share a few of my favorite mentor texts for verse novelists. Up first, a book from one of my favorite poets, Nikki Grimes.
PLANET MIDDLE SCHOOL, by Nikki Grimes, follows Joylin, a middle schooler who loves playing basketball, particularly with Jake, her long-time friend. Without warning, Joylin’s world, and body, start to change, leaving her trying to figure out her place in this new, ever-changing, world. Joylin navigates issues at home, problems at school, and even her first crush.
Who it will help:
Everyone! Nikki Grimes is one of kidlit’s most celebrated poets, and for good reason. Her free-verse poems are excellent on their own but really come alive in the context of the story. Her ability to tell a story three a series of poems, including the richness of emotion, action, and suspense are unmatched.
If you’re interested in a writing a novel in verse using more structured poems, check out THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY by Laura Shovan. Emerson Elementary is scheduled to be close and bulldozed over. Ms. Hill’s fifth-grade class pick up their pens and pencils and make one final stand (through poetry) to try to save their school.
Who it will help:
Anybody looking to tell a story in verse using various poetry forms, including acrostics, fibs, haiku, and limericks. Also, anyone looking to tell a story using multiple points of view. In this book, all the students contribute poems using their favorite formats. If you’re looking for examples of many different types of poetry this is a great place to start.
JAZZ OWLS, by Margarita Engle, tells the story of the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles, California. Young Mexican women gather in jazz clubs to dance with the Navy sailors who’ve come ashore until racism and violence threatens the safety of the once quiet community. JAZZ OWLS is a compelling and honest look at a troubling time in our nation’s history.
Who it will help:
Poets working on novels in verse for older readers. Also, any poet looking for inspiration that will help them develop their own unique voice, create and deliver on a theme for their novel, anyone looking for examples of the most evocative and emotional poetry.
One last resource I’d recommend, even though it’s not exactly a mentor text. My love of poetry began as a small child with the poem Carol of the Brown King by Langston Hughes. After that, I devoured everything Hughes wrote (including the not so kid friendly poems). THE COLLECTED POEMS OF LANGSTON HUGHES collects all of his published work and is an essential resource for any poet.
Well, that’s all for this month. Happy writing and have a magical month.
8/15/2022 04:54:24 pm
Hi, Bryan! I'm honored that you chose The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary as one of your mentor texts. A mystery in verse sounds like an exciting project.
9/23/2022 12:46:53 am
Mentor texts can be a wonderful resource for new writers. They provide insight into the craft, from which you can learn and grow. The books above are three fabulous mentor texts for verse novelists, each of which offers something different to help you on your path.
10/7/2022 01:14:08 am
If you're just starting out as a verse novelist, or have only just begun writing more than one poem a day, I've got three fantastic mentor texts for you. They range from being in my own collection to being much more widely acclaimed, but none will have caused you any frustration at all.
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We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome multi-published former student Shirin Shamsi who will be focusing on Muslim and cultural kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break