Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lee Bennett Hopkins - Awe!

Imagine the awe, receiving a box of books from Lee Bennett Hopkins on your doorstep.  The man who is responsible for putting millions of words in the hearts and minds of young poets, young thinkers, young writers via his tremendous body of work.  The man who has spent his life exploring the beauty of language, of life, of children.  Imagine the awe!
      I remember seeing Lee receive the 2009 National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.  I remember hearing some of my favorite poets share their words and talk about the impact Lee's influence has had on their lives.  Most of the speakers had slight timbers of reverence in their voices... warm, crisp, respectful, loving, happy.  Each seemed honored to talk about their friend in humble terms.  But, mind you, raucous laughter filled the room that November day in Philadelphia.
     I blogged about it at the time (click here).  It was quite a party!
     I remember my friends Troy, Randi, and I leaving the session amazed by the talent in the room.  It was one of the best sessions we attended (I'm sure many of you were there) and we, in fact, still talk about it.  Lee was the rock star of the afternoon (we even snuck a handshake after the session)!  Here I am, a few years later, writing about the box of titles he recently sent my way...  

Opening Days:  Sports Poems.  A wonderful collection of poems about a variety of sports.  Two of my favorite poems are "Final Score" by Lee and "The Spearthrower" by Lillian Morrison.  A wonderful nudge to encourage children to write about passion topics in a different genre... or just to sit back and let the power of the words float through their sports-oriented minds. 

Give Me WIngs.  A delightful anthology that makes you soar.  I adore "I, Icarus" by Alden Nowlan and "If I Had the Power of Wings" by Lillian M. Fisher.  This book makes me want to open the "wing box" and fly.  Who hasn't want to fly?  Who hasn't dreamed of the possibility?  Who hasn't been jolted awake by the feeling of a nighttime outing among the birds?

Full Moon and Star.  A wonderful picture book in which Kyle and Katie combine their two plays to create one play.  It's about collaboration and friendship.  Two minds are better than one.  "We should always do things together."  Precious.

Incredible Inventions.  We often take common objects for granted.  The poetry in this book reminds me of the joy that simple things can bring.  I love "Take the Escalator" by Kristine O'Connell George and "The Ferris Wheel" by Elizabeth Upton.  Both make me reminisce about my childhood and my own children... they just make me smile!

Dear One:  A Tribute to Lee Bennett Hopkins.  Published as a tribute for his 2009 NCTE award, this book is the whole ball-of-wax, a collection of amazing poems by all our favorite poets.  I close my eyes and remember the voices behind many of the poems as they were read at the "Poetry Party."  Georgia Heard's "Archeologist of Poetry," Mary Ann Hoberman's "Hopkins Hopkins Hop Hop Hop!"  Ralph Fletcher's, "The Rooster." and of course, Walter Dean Myers's "For Lee, my friend." 

I am on a mission to collect as many of Lee's books as I can gather.  And, just when I think I'm ahead of the game, I'm surprised by a new title... one I haven't seen, one that's been hidden in my stacks, one that a friend sends me.  A friend like, well, Lee!  

• • • • • 

There have many MANY wonderful interviews with Lee and articles written about him over the years... here are a few of my favorites, check them out!

This interview with Lee on Poetry at Play  

This interview at The Miss Rumphius Effect

This article:  Mining with a Jeweler's Eye