Tag Archives: Helen Frost

The Library Goddess Recommends…

1 Jun

Books in verse.  They’re approachable–not too many words on a page.  They’re a gateway to prose novels, a gateway to an appreciation of language and author’s craft.  My favorite author to suggest to students and adults alike in this category?  Helen Frost.  She spins compelling tales in what seems to be effortless free verse.  Most of these compelled me to have a tissue to dab at my tears.  I’m a bit of a sap for a good story.

I just finished Crossing Stones.  Two families in a 1917 small town affected by war and women’s sufferage, told in a verse that mimics the stream and crossing stones that separate and yet binds them together.  This is the fourth Frost book I’ve read.  I savor the author’s notes at the end with the explanation of where each story comes from and the poetic form created to tell it.  Crossing Stones didn’t disappoint….I’ll let you read that explanation and the others yourself…

The book that introduced me to Frost was The Braid–the story of two sisters being forced to leave their native Scotland in 1850, but one decides to stay.  In the night before they are to leave, she braids her sister’s hair into her own.  She cuts the braid off, keeping half and leaving the other half for her sister.  As the story progresses, each sister’s life is braided into the other’s even though separated by an ocean.  Each sister tells her side in turn, each poem braided into the next.  A beautiful book. 

I then read Diamond Willow; my favorite of these four.  Diamond Willow is a girl coming of age in a small Alaskan town.  Named for a tree, she feels most at home with the family’s sled dogs and insists on mushing solo to her grandparents’ house.  This solo trip results in tragedy and the discovery of a secret.  The poems are in the shape of a diamond with a darker center, mimicking the diamond willow itself.  The larger, outer poem is what Willow projects to the world, and the smaller dark center reflects her inner thoughts.

Spinning Through the Universe tells the stories behind the scenes of a fifth grade class.  Each child writes his or her life in a different poetic form–appropriate to each child’s triumphs or challenges in the first half, and in acrostics in the second half. (With one exception)  The teacher starts things off, wondering why this child sleeps in class, that one seems withdrawn and so on.  Each child reveals their own answer, opening your eyes to the complicated interwoven lives present in any classroom.

I have some other favorite books in verse by different authors I’ll share later.  For now, trot off to your library or bookstore and find a Helen Frost to curl up with this summer.

All images taken from amazon.com.

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