Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. COUNTDOWN TO SUMMER: A POEM FOR EVERY DAY OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. Ill. by Ethan Long. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316020893 [Suggested Grade Levels 1- 8]
This potpourri of poetry runs the gamut from serious to silly, from thoughtful to topical, for every conceivable occasion and just for fun. There are 180 poems numbered from #180 and counting down to #1 (“School’s Out!”) with a big black dot encircling each number on every page. Kids will love this actual counting down of the school year (and most school years are about 180 days long). The poems themselves also represent an amazing menu. Not only does Lewis tackle a plethora of topics, but the poetic forms are extremely varied, too—the perfect springboard for mini poetry lessons that grow organically out of poem sharing. Riddles, limericks, haiku, acrostics, rhyming narratives, free verse, list poems, rebus poems, concrete poetry, and on and on.
Ethan Long has provided pen and ink cartoons for every single page and it gives the book visual verve and energy and makes it even more browsable. The bug-eyed characters and mini-comic-stories move across the bottom third or quarter of each page (and beyond) in appealing ways that complement the poems perfectly.
The learning and activity connections for these poems just bubble up with a multitude of possibilities. For example, #98 “A Monthly Calendar” is a visual way to represent all the months poetically and could be a great bulletin board or door sign. Or the poems could serve as an addition to the morning announcements made at many schools every day.
Another poetry collection with poems tied to the calendar:
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. DAYS TO CELEBRATE: A FULL YEAR OF POETRY, PEOPLE, HOLIDAYS, HISTORY, FASCINATING FACTS, AND MORE. ISBN 978-0060007652
By Sylvia M. Vardell