This is a collection of almost 200 poems, a companion to “A Family of Poems,” Caroline Kennedy’s New York Times #1 Bestseller from 2005. This beautiful volume is filled with poetry of all sorts: about one’s self, family, friendship, and love. There are poems about sports and games, about school. Nonsensical poetry, poems about fairies, ogres, and witches are included too. There are deeply touching poems about war, poetry about nature, Bible verses, and so much more are scattered together and throughout this fine book.
“Poets distill life’s lessons into the fewest possible words. But those tiny packages of thought contain worlds of images and experiences and feelings.” Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy writes about the importance of memorization of poetry in her introduction. “If our circumstances change and things seem to be falling apart, we can recall a poem that reassures us. If we find ourselves in unfamiliar or frightening surroundings, a poem can remind us that others have journeyed far and returned safely home. If we learn poems by heart, we will always have their wisdom to draw on, and we gain understanding that no one can take away.”
As a Bible verse is memorized and tucked into my heart, even if only in part, it will be there when I need it the most. Poetry can be a similar strength in a weaker time.
This anthology has works of art by well known poets from the past such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. They remind me of poetry I once read, maybe even memorized for a class. Geoffrey Chaucer’s General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales is even etched into this book. (I read the whole of The Canterbury Tales when I was in high school from the Old English translation, no less, each night for homework, translating it into “readable” English for Senior English class/Mrs. Lee! I recall the assignment well. I did not tuck any of that away for those weaker moments, I am afraid!) Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, along with Ogden Nash, Carl Sandburg, and many others remind parents of poems they may have memorized or read.
Poetry by A.A. Milne, Nikki Giovanni, Shel Silverstein, Jane Yolen, and Jack Prelutsky represents some of the newer poets yet each stands tall among those of years gone by.
Caroline Kennedy worked regularly with the DreamYard Preparatory School in the Bronx who authored a lengthy poem (or more) in this book as well. These young people are the DreamYard Slam Team. She dedicates the book to them and their futures.
The watercolor paintings of Jon J. Muth are gentle and excellent for each and every page, each and every poem. As one example, on page 35, the Bible verse, Micah 6:8, is written upon an array of blues suggesting the heavenly realm spread over the double-page:
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Yes, Bible verses can also poetry.
This is another fine collection from Caroline Kennedy. She is an advocate for poetry as she was brought up with it in her family. They shared poetry at gatherings of the whole Kennedy clan as well as amongst their own smaller family. Caroline said her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, loved poetry and encouraged her children to engage with it, to memorize it. Rose Kennedy, Caroline’s grandmother, was another encourager along this creative avenue.
Reading Level: Preschool and up
Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is a lawyer, author, education advocate, and lifelong supporter of the arts. Ms. Kennedy attended Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, England from 1975-1976. She earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from Radcliffe College at Harvard University in 1980. Ms. Kennedy received her J.D. from Columbia University Law School in 1988. She is the Ambassador to Japan from the United States of America.
She is the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis , sister to John Kennedy.
She has written many books and articles, subjects ranging from legal issues, family and children, the Kennedy family, and poetry.
Jon J Muth is an American artist, born and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. He loved to draw as a boy, and he also painted. His mother was an art teacher and took him to museums all over the US. He studied stone sculpture in Japan; paintings, prints and drawings in Austria, Germany, and England. Most of his education as an artist came from an informal apprenticeship with fine artists.
“My work in children’s books really grew out of a desire to explore what I was feeling as a new father,” says Muth. “I was working in comics and that is a natural forum for expressions of angst and questioning one’s place in the universe. When the children came it became important to say other things about the world. With the birth of my children, there was a kind of seismic shift in where my work seemed appropriate.”
Jon Muth has illustrated (and written some) picture books of high acclaim. They are beloved around the world.
Muth lives in upstate New York with his wife and four children. Jon can be found @ jonmuth.com or on Pinterest or @ RMichelsonGalleries or http://www.rmichelson.com/illustration/jon-j-muth/poems-to-learn-by-heart/ for many paintings from this book.
- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (March 26, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1423108051
- ISBN-13: 978-1423108054
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds