Monday, March 15, 2010

Crossing Stones

Frost, Helen. 2009. CROSSING STONES. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 9780374316532 [Suggested Grade Levels 5- 12]


Frost’s newest work, a novel-in-poems, is another historical tale set during World War I. Two families are friends and neighbors, separated by a creek filled with “crossing stones” that a daughter and son in each family frequently use to meet and connect. The children are emerging as adults and coping with budding emotions (for each other), as well as struggles with the justness of war and the pressures of societal and familial expectations. The voices shift from each of their four perspectives in poems and letters presented in “cupped-hand sonnets” like “stones,” and “free style” poems like a flowing creek, each with inter-connected rhyming lines and words. It’s subtly sophisticated and compelling storytelling. Pair this with Deborah Ellis’s nonfiction work, OFF TO WAR also in the voices of young people coping with war or 33 THINGS EVERY GIRL SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WOMEN'S HISTORY: FROM SUFFRAGETTES TO SKIRT LENGTHS TO THE E.R.A. by Tonya Bolden, for a look at feminist history.


One of the most outstanding features of Helen Frost’s poetry is her creative use of poetic form. She enjoys experimenting with how a poem can look and writes haiku, blank verse, sonnets, sestinas, rondelets, acrostics, and even invents her own new forms. She also includes explanatory notes on these in her books, as well as guidance for trying different poetic formats on her personal web site ( Invite the kids to try their own hands at writing poetry in any of these forms themselves.


Other works of poetry by Helen Frost:

KEESHA’S HOUSE. ISBN 978-0374400125


THE BRAID. ISBN 978-0374309626

DIAMOND WILLOW. ISBN 978-0374317768

By Sylvia M. Vardell

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