Citation:  Alexander, K. (2017). Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets. Candlewick Press.

Overall Review:  Out of Wonder is a collection of poems that, as the title suggests, celebrate a variety of poets. It is separated into three parts; part one includes poems written in the style of famous poets, part two features poems written about the themes famous poets often highlighted, and part three is a collection of poems about famous poets or poems and how they have affected us. The different sections have a unique feel and isolate important parts of the poetic experience—the use style, connection to themes, and inspiration and emotions one feels when they encounter a poem or poet that speaks to them. Each of the poems in Out of Wonder reinforces these themes beautifully and helps to introduce children to poets and works they might not have been familiar with before in a fresh and intriguing way. For those who are familiar with the poets being celebrated, it is a refreshing perspective of their work that leads the reader back to the originals again to revisit and remember.

Though this collection is written by famous poets (notably the main author Kwame Alexander who penned many of the poems in this collection) and names unknown to many of the typical reader (i.e. Chris Colderley), the poems are all high-quality works that come together to show the powerful and moving nature of poetry. It is a truly varied collection that takes the reader through feelings of deep love, hope, inspiration, and a connection to common life experiences that we all share. Children will connect to many of the sports, school, social, and family themes throughout the book and the rich and dynamic illustrations that help each work jump off the page. Lovers of poetry will be aided by a detailed table of contents with the poetic inspiration for each work listed along with the title and page number.

Spotlight Poem: “I Like Your: Celebrating e.e. cummings” by Kwame Alexander

This is a moving love poem that will bring thoughts of a significant other to adults and a best friend or family member to children. It speaks to the desire to take on new adventures with someone special. It brings about feelings of excitement and connection with another that anyone of any age can relate to.

It is also a fairly complex poem with the unique style of e.e. cummings. It is a great tool to introduce a more complex work. On the first read-through, one can grasp the general ideas, but on second and third read-throughs and discussions of the work, one comes up with more and more layers in the seemingly odd language and writing (i.e. “I carry your footsteps(onetwothreefour) in between today(…)tomorrow”). The figurative language seen throughout in the use of “GREAT(US),” “everybloomingthing,” and “magic love rugs,” help create a magical undercurrent of possibility when one walks with a loved one like the poet has.

Take 5 Activity:

  1. Read “Maggie and Milly and Molly and May” by e.e. cummings aloud once. Show the children the text and have them read it aloud. Discuss the theme and style. Then, discuss the life of e.e. cummings.
  2. Read “I Like Your” by Kwame Alexander aloud slowly.
  3. Discuss anything that stood out to the children.
  4. Have the children read the poem aloud and sit with it awhile.
  5. Discuss their favorite phrases, what they think they mean, the theme of going on adventures with someone you love, and what that means to them.

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