Theme Guide: Poetry

Bring a little poetry into your classroom or library with one of these great Canadian books in verse.

Picture Books

All the World a Poem
Written by Gilles Tibo
Illustrated by Manon Gauthier
Pajama Press, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77278-009-3
IL: Ages 5-12 RL: Grades 3-4

Poems | Poetry | Whimsy | Nature | Feelings | Joyfulness

In Gilles Tibo’s wonder-filled tribute to poetry, poems bloom in fields, fly on the wings of birds and float on the foam of the sea. They are written in the dark of night, in the light of happiness and in the warmth of the writer’s heart. Each poem is illustrated with Manon Gauthier’s whimsical paper-collage art. This title is also available in French as Poésies pour la vie.

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If I Had a Gryphon
Written by Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Cale Atkinson
Tundra Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77049-809-9
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades 1-2

Pets | Imagination | Mythical Creatures | Verse

Sam’s new pet hamster mostly just eats and sleeps and hides. Inspired by her book of mythological creatures, Sam imagines a more exciting pet. But she realizes that gryphons need to fly, unicorns are shy, hippogriffs scare everyone at the dog park, and a dragon is an awful lot of work. Maybe her hamster really is the best pet for her. A nice safe pet… right?

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If You Could Wear My Sneakers! 20th Anniversary Edition
Written by Sheree Fitch
Illustrated by Darcia Labrosse
Nimbus Publishing, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77108-469-7
IL: Ages 7-10 RL: Grades 2-3

Verse | Human Rights | Rights of the Child | Humour | Animals

This award-winning picture book about children’s rights is now available for a new generation of young readers. Humorous poems paired with timeless illustrations explore 15 of the 54 articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. A fun way to start talking about the rights all children have the world over.

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Written by JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
Kids Can Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77138-678-4
IL: Ages 3-7  RL: Grades 2-3

Verse | Animals | Natural World

A startled flea LEAPS into the path of a grasshopper, which startles the grasshopper who, in turn, LEAPS onto a bunny. And so it goes: dog, fish, bullfrog and horse, each leaping and upsetting the next. With its rollicking rhythm and a rich array of action words, this book will inspire and encourage children to move, making this an excellent introduction to the power of language.

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Melvis and Elvis
Written by Dennis Lee
Illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
HarperCollins Publishers, 2015
ISBN 978-1-44341-148-6
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades 1-2

Poetry | Friendship | Whimsy

Meet Melvis the monster and Elvis the elf, two unlikely friends hunting for the perfect book to read. The result is a splendid collection of poems from Dennis Lee, Canada’s Father Goose! This irresistible blend of narrative, wordplay and pure nonsense, combined with Jeremy Tankard’s whimsical and energetic illustrations, will appeal to both the very young and developing readers.

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Song for a Summer Night: A Lullaby
Written by Robert Heidbreder
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Groundwood Books, 2015
ISBN 978-1-55498-493-0
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades 1-2

Summer | Night | Animals | Curiosity | Natural World | Verse

As night falls on a soft summer evening, neighbourhood children are drawn out of their houses by the sights and sounds of the world after dark. First the fireflies come sparkling past, followed by raccoons, skunks, cats and owls. A sweet interplay between our everyday domestic world and one that is just a little bit wilder.

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Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess
Written by Shari Green
Pajama Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77278-017-8
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-4

Change | Step Families | Intergenerational Relationships | Deafness | Novels in Verse | Friendship | Family Relationships | Moving

Everything is changing for deaf sixth grader Macy McMillan. Then her mother sends her next door to help 86-year-old Iris (the Rainbow Goddess) pack books for her unwelcome move to an assisted-living facility. Soon, through notes and books and cookies, a friendship grows. And this friendship, odd and unexpected, may be just what Macy needs to face the changes in her life.

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Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff
Written by Robert Paul Weston
Illustrated by Víctor Rivas Villa
Puffin Canada, 2013
ISBN 978-0-14-317332-8
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 3-4

Rhyming Verse | Fashion | Identity

Prince Puggly, of the unfashionable Kingdom of Spud, is surprised when he’s invited to a ball in the stylish Kingdom of Spiff… an invitation that ends in humiliation. But then Puggly meets Francesca, the Princess of Spiff, and together the two teach Francesca’s Spiffian countrymen an absurd lesson in style.

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Written by Katherine Lawrence
Coteau Books, 2017
ISBN 978-1-55050-681-5
IL: Ages 9-14 RL: Grades 4-5

Novels in Verse | Family Relationships | Cancer | Coming of Age | Divorce | Dogs

A moving, personal novel-in-verse about 11-year-old Millie who dreams about having her own puppy and puts down all her hopes and fears in a diary written to her twin Billy who died in utero. Millie faces new challenges amidst the traditional tribulations of growing up, including wanting to have a dog and keep her family together after her parents separate.

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Whispers of Mermaids and Wonderful Things: Children’s Poetry and Verse from Atlantic Canada
Edited by Sheree Fitch and Anne Hunt
Nimbus Publishing, 2017
ISBN 978-1-77108-471-0
IL: Ages 5-12  RL: Grades 5-6

Poetry | Verse | Atlantic Canada | Whimsy | Wordplay

From celebrated children’s poet and author Sheree Fitch and early childhood educator and researcher Anne Hunt comes this compendium of Atlantic Canadian poetry and verse for young readers. Spanning centuries, the collection includes everything from soft lullabies and silly songs to poignant meditations on nature, loss and love. More than 100 poems from the region’s best are sure to delight readers of all ages.

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Young Adult Fiction

Written by Gabrielle Prendergast
Orca Book Publishers, 2013
ISBN 978-1-4598-0530-9
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

Family Relationships | Eating Disorders | Defiance | Novels in Verse

This novel written in verse is about 16-year-old Raphaelle, who says the wrong things, antagonizes people and has a bad attitude. When her father moves the family to a new city, Raphaelle (Ella) wants to fit in. When she falls for Samir, a Muslim boy, and expresses her confused feelings in explicit art, the fallout spreads throughout Ella’s life.

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Written by Alma Fullerton
Dancing Cat Books, 2010
ISBN 978-1-897151-95-2
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7

Abandonment | Resentment | Autism | Adoption

This powerful free-verse novel explores Casey’s desperate attempt to take care of her autistic sister and keep her family together after her mother leaves. To find comfort, Casey becomes obsessed with building fires to send smoke signals to her mother, hoping she’ll see them and come back. When the everyday pressures get to be too much for Casey, her obsession with fire escalates into a very dangerous situation.

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Closing Down Heaven
Written by Lesley Choyce
Red Deer Press, 2016
ISBN 978-0-88995-543-1
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7

Choices | Death | Suicide | Journeys | Novels in Verse | Love | Afterlife | Consequences

Hunter, 16, crashes his bike and dies. In heaven, he meets Archie, a guide who helps him understand his new existence. Soon, Hunter meets Trinity and becomes her guide, his mission to love and protect her. Complications multiply until both Hunter and Trinity find a redemptive path that gives them both back their real lives and new opportunities.

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My Book of Life by Angel
Written by Martine Leavitt
Groundwood Books, 2012
ISBN 978-1-55498-117-5
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-10

Sex Workers | Drugs | Missing Persons | Murder | Novels in Verse

This stunning verse novel about a 16-year-old sex worker trying to survive in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside during the time of the Pickton murders is told with grace, wit, compassion and deep respect for the missing women — the “Eastside angels” — to whom the book is dedicated.

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