Thursday, June 23, 2016

Poetry Friday: Firefly July

Selected by:  Paul B. Janeczko

Illustrator: Melissa Sweet

Target Ages: All

Genre: Poetry Anthology

Publisher Summary: 
It takes only a few words, if they’re the right words, to create a strong image.  Whether listened to in the comfort of a cozy lap or read independently, the thirty-six very short poems in this collection show readers young and old that a few perfect words and pictures can make the world glow.

This collection of seasonal poems includes selections from a wide variety of poets.  Some classics are included like “The Red Wheelbarrow” (Williams) and “Fog” (Sandburg), but most of them are from lesser-known authors.  Each poem is a little treasure of imagery and enchantment. 

Most of the poems are 25 words or less, making it easy to keep youngsters and relunctant readers engaged. The focus on a single, vivid image or idea is an effective building block for introducing and teaching poetry. 

With poems this concise, young writers are likely to feel more confident to try their hand at composing one themselves.  For teachers or parents who want to try the poem a day challenge, these works are perfect.  Reading one takes less than a minute. 

Melissa Sweet’s original watercolor, gouache, and mixed-media collage illustrations are an brilliant compliment to each poem.  She always has the perfect mix of color, texture, and image.

Firefly July is an excellent resource for teachers, parents, and poetry lovers. 

Sample Poems: 

Water Lily
My petals enfold stamens of gold.
I float, serene, while down below

these roots of mine are deeply stuck
in the coolest most delicious muck.
                  -Ralph Fletcher

Little Orange Cat
Little orange cat,
you prowl
like a small tiger
(stalking what?)
in the field
of white daisies
and shining
                  -Charlotte Zolotow

November Night
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.
                  --Adelaide Crapsey

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
                  -Carl Sandburg

For more poetic inspiration, visit Random Noodling for this week’s Poetry Friday round up.


  1. I loved the whole concept of Firefly July. There's no need for poets to write more than is necessary! There's always time to read a short poem.

  2. It is a marvelous book, old poems & new to savor. It's a great time to read again right now, before July!

  3. What a great idea for a book. I love the samples. Melissa Sweet is so talented.

  4. P. Janeczko on a book's cover means a true treasure inside.
    Appreciations + summer fun to you.

  5. I agree with Diane, the title is such an invitation to wonder and dance in the light of the illustrations.

  6. These short poems are inspirational. Writing poems under 25 words makes a good summer challenge. Thanks for this!

  7. I adore this book! It's a must-have for poetry lovers and teachers of all ages.

  8. This book is new to me -- I'll have to go find it! Thanks!


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