It's nearly summer! By the calendar at least, if not fully by the weather forecast here in Northwest Washington. We've had a couple of warm days already, though. During one of them, Sprout and Daddy happened to be out at the park just at the perfect moment when they were testing the splash pad, and Sprout got to have an impromptu run-through-the-sprinklers moment. Other than that we haven't had the chance to do a lot of summery things yet, but we're definitely looking forward to them: more bike rides, popsicles, picking strawberries, playing in the wading pool, watching the fireworks. Blissful.
In keeping with the spirit of the season is Marilyn Singer's new book A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play. Singer's the author of a number of well-loved books for children, including I'm Your Bus, which Sprout loves for its transportation theme, and A Full Moon is Rising, last year's gorgeous book that takes a look at how different cultures incorporate the phases of the moon. What I loved about the latter title is that we can dip into it at any point, reading the page or pages that catch Sprout's fancy. And isn't that the best thing about poetry - the way each individual piece shines like its own unique gem?
In this latest title, Singer is celebrating life after the last day of school. And who wouldn't be anxious to hear that final bell ring, if they were enjoying all the wonderful fun that bursts forth from Singer's terrific poems? The poems vary in length and subject, everything from a boy who's playing catch with his dog, to a game of double dutch, to a romp through the backyard sprinkler ("Get wet! Jump out! / And always SHOUT!"). Each one perfectly encapsulates a summer experience that brings me back to those seemingly endless summer days, riding my bike with the neighbors or waiting and watching for the temperature to get warm enough to go swimming.
And the very best part of Stick, in our estimation, is that the book is entirely peopled with multicultural characters. There are kids here in every shade of skin tone and hair color, all frolicking together through Singer's delightful poems and enjoying the bounty of summer. LeUyen Pham did the illustrations here and as usual they are a true joy to look at. Not only does she capture the wicked fun these kids are having, she also evokes a retro vibe that will remind parents of their own summer days.
A Stick is an Excellent Thing is a winner for lots of reasons, and one that you'll love including as part of your summer reading routine. Oh, and for reluctant readers it's just the thing to keep those skills up over the break. Once they read one or two of these snappy pieces, they'll want to read the whole book (and so will you!).
A Stick is an Excellent Thing by Marilyn Singer, published by Clarion Books
Sample: "This bubble I'm blowing, / this bubble is growing -- / this bubble of ginormous size. / It's as big as a plate. / You can watch it inflate. / This bubble will win me a prize!"
Bonus: take a peek inside the book at the Seven Impossible Things blog