The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka

Published by Candlewick

Summary:  Veteran poetry anthologist Paul B. Janeczko has collected 50 poems about objects from nine periods in history, starting with the early Middle Ages and going to the present.  There are familiar selections such as “My Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson and “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams, as well as lesser-known writers like Chinese poet Bai Juyi and Vietnamese emperor Le Thanh Tong.  The introduction gives the reader a brief overview of the different historical periods.

Pros:  This reminded me of my college Norton anthologies, traveling through time with literature.  Except that I actually enjoyed reading this book.  Norton would also benefit greatly by adding Raschka’s illustrations.  Kids will be motivated to look for objects in their world that can serve as inspiration for their own poems.

Cons:  With the exception of Pablo Neruda, all the poets after the Renaissance are British or American.

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