The fourth graders and I read A Poem for Peter, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher.
The students broke into spontaneous applause at the end of the book. I think this occurred because it feels like we, the readers, have witnessed something, something quite special. This book is the real deal. A beautifully wrapped up package in narrative and art; a gift bestowing both knowledge and understanding of Ezra Jack Keats.
The form allows the reader to read the story like a spoken word performance -- switching up the rhythm and cadence to allow for emphasis and energy as well as bring focus to emotions and elements. It's a read aloud that pulls out of the station, picks up speed and flies down the tracks, it's cargo of words like a freight train pushing forward. Not that we did not stop this literature train once or twice to talk about The Great Depression or The WPA. There is much here to consider, ponder, and wonder.
But I get ahead of myself.
This book! Those words! That art!
Indeed they did! I adore this image.
This passage, describing what it was like for Ezra Jack Keats' parents, is powerful. The art that accompanies it says it all.
I am so moved by these words below. We spent a goodly number of minutes appreciate this language and what it would feel like to take a page from life's book of hard wanting.
I love this glimpse into Peter's relationship with his father.
These stanzas are a call to action and a source of inspiration for all readers, so much power in so few words.
Andrea provides two wonderful end notes for readers.
Next week, the students will be exploring the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation website and creating their own verse about what they have learned.
I used the book to remind students about the biography genre and the neighborhood. When asked to define biography, here's what they shared: