Children’s and Young Adult Library Director, Deann Campbell, recommends Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman.
Before reading Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman, I had enjoyed poetry—loved it even. But I had mostly read poetry. This is not a collection to be read, it is a collection to be performed… with someone else. After all, these are poems for two voices.
The first poem of the collection may have given me goosebumps. Mostly, I remember how clever it was: Grasshoppers hopping, hatching out, into spring, hopping, leapfrogging, longjumping grasshoppers. Plus, there was the back and forth of the readers voices and rhythm and cadence that I’d never heard with poetry. These poems have a sing-songy element melded with the characteristics of insects and the rhythm of words, and hopping, striding, flying insects. The poems all focus on insects: Moths, Mayflies, Cicadas, Water Striders, Fireflies, Bumblebees.
The poems are clever, funny, spry, and sometimes somber. The illustrations, too, are wonderful. In them Eric Beddows gives life, whimsey and accuracy to the starring characters. On the cover is a beautiful and accurately drawn butterfly who, upon closer inspection, taps a tambourine.
The true joy, however, is in reading the poem with a partner or friend. While not difficult, it may take a little practice before the poems are performance worthy. There is a knack to time the lines that you say alone and the lines that are spoken in chorus. There is a click clackety and a back and forth-ness to the poems. A joy in reading and reciting. Together, these poems for two voices make a joyful noise.
Note: This book was the recipient of the 1989 Newbery Medal. The Newbery Medal recognizes “The most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” The Newbery Award and Caldecott, the two most prestigious awards in Children’s Literature each year, will be announced in January.