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Home | LS5603 Children's and YA Literature | LS6643 Nonfiction for Children and YA
A Jar of Tiny Stars

A Jar of Tiny Stars Cullinan, Bernice E., ed.  1996.  A jar of tiny stars:  Poems by NCTE award-winning poets.  Ill. by Andi MacLeod and Marc Nadel.  Honesdale, PA:  Boyds Mills Press.  ISBN:  1563970872.

This collection of poems contains the works of ten winners of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Award for Poetry for Children.  As explained in the book's introduction by editor Bernice Cullinan, the featured poems in this collection were actually selected by students in classrooms across the nation.  Beginning with the first winner of the award from 1978, each poet's work is highlighted in a section that begins with a quote from the poet and also a portrait.  After devoting the majority of the book to the poems, a short biography gives details about the life and also inspirations of each poet.  Notes, a bibliography, and an index are also included.

This book gives readers the opportunity to explore the best of the best.  Although this short collection is by no means exhaustive, it covers subjects from childhood fun (Mummy Slept Late and Daddy Fixed Breakfast, John Ciardi, p.40) to nature (Out in the Dark and Daylight, Aileen Fisher, p.13) to social issues (Martin Luther King, Myra Cohn Livingston, p.31).  There are opportunities to compare and contrast the poems and also the styles and inspirations of these award winners.

Even though I was all alone in my living room, I just had to read aloud an untitled poem by David McCord on page 5.  The subject of the poem is a picket fence, and when read aloud, the sounds combine to become very close to the noise that a stick on a fence would make.  Through the repetition of a combination of several words containing the short i and ck sounds and a staccato beat, McCord orchestrates his words into one of the most famous sounds of the long, lazy days of childhood.

In contrast, a short poem on page 31 by Myra Cohn Livingston titled Martin Luther King uses a few words and a simple rhyming pattern to convey her message.  In just eight lines, a child explains how a picture of Dr. King holds special meaning and inspires hopeful thoughts.

Portraits by Marc Nadel are at the beginning of each section of A Jar of Tiny Stars.  Although Nadel's style is evident in each, the black and white watercolors give readers a sense of the individuality of each poet through their countenance.  Simple line drawings by Andi MacLeod highlight poems throughout the book, but are done in a way that does not overshadow the poems themselves.

All Materials for this Site created by:
Holly S.
Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University