Monday, April 15, 2013

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices


by Paul Fleischman
illustrated by Eric Beddows

image by Barnes & Noble
Fleischman, Paul. Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. Ill. Eric Beddows. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. ISBN: 978-0064-46093-4.


Poetic Elements
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman was written as a companion to I Am Phoenix, his first performance poetry book. Fleischman skillfully weaves the elements of rhythm and sound throughout these delightful insect poems with alliteration and an abundance of sense imagery. From the Whirligig beetles “spinning and swerving” and “whirling and weaving” to the mayflies “final, frantic act”, these musical duets are informative, humorous, and entertaining.

Appeal
This volume of biologically accurate poems about fourteen different insects is written with much humor and when read aloud or performed, will appeal to all ages. These poems not only extend and enrich one’s knowledge of insects, learning to perform them correctly will expand linguistic abilities as well. Fleischman’s creative writing will stimulate the imagination of the reader with descriptions of fireflies as “Insect calligraphers” or “Six-legged scribblers,” and cicadas as “mighty choirs.”

Overall Quality
Joyful Noise earned Paul Fleischman the 1989 Newbery Medal and was an ALA Notable Children’s Book in 1995. Each poem is compatible with performance for two voices, and present fascinating facts about the insect world.

The Poet
Joyful Noise was written by Paul Fleischman, who also wrote I Am Phoenix, a collection of two voice poems about birds. Paul was born in Monterey, California, attended the University of California at Berkeley and the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque. He has written several books for young readers including Graven Images, a Newbery Honor Book. He presently resides with his wife in Santa Cruz, California.
Eric Beddows illustrated this Newbery Award book as well as Fleischmans' prior two-voice poem companion volume, I Am Phoenix. He presently lives in Stratford, Ontario, Canada and has twice won Canada’s Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award. He has also had many one-man shows of his art and received numerous grants and awards.

Layout
Joyful Noise includes a table of contents and a very useful note describing exactly how the poems for two voices are intended to be read aloud with one person taking the left-hand part, the other taking the right-hand part. When both readers have lines at the same horizontal level the lines will be spoken simultaneously. Beddow’s detailed black-and-white soft-pencil illustrations are anatomically correct--yet witty, and add humor to the imaginative verse.

Spotlight Poem
Book Lice
By Paul Fleischman

I was born in a
fine old edition of Schiller


We’re book lice
who dwell
in these dusty bookshelves.
Later I lodged in
Scott’s works—volume50


We’re book lice
attached
despite contrasting pasts.
One day, while in search of
a new place to eat


We’re book lice
who chew
on the bookbinding glue.
We honeymooned in an
old guide book on Greece


We’re book lice
fine mates
despite different tastes.
So we set up our home
inside Roget’s Thesaurus


We’re book lice
adoring
despite her loud snoring.
And there we’ve resided,
and there we’ll remain,


We’re book-loving
book lice

which I’m certain I read
in a book some months back that opposites
often are known
to attract.





While I started life
in a private eye thriller
We’re book lice
who dwell
in these dusty bookshelves.


While I passed my youth
in an Agatha Christie
We’re book lice
attached
despite contrasting pasts.


He fell down seven shelves,
where we happened to meet
We’re book lice
who chew
On the bookbinding glue.


I missed Conan Doyle,
he pined for his Keats
We’re book lice
fine mates
despite different tastes.


Not far from my mysteries, close to his Horace
We’re book lice
adoring
despite his loud snoring.


He nearby his Shakespeare,
I near my Spillane
We’re book-loving
book lice
plain proof of the fact


that opposites
often are known
to attract.

Poetry Break

Introduction: To introduce this book of performance poetry, go to http://www.audible.com and let students listen to the rhythm of samples of these poems being read correctly in two voices.

Extension Activity: Let pairs of students select a poem from the book to practice and perform.


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