Poetry books put the gift of words into small packages, and these poetry books make for wonderful gifts.

“When Mermaids Sleep” by Ann Bonwill, Illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher, 2013, Random House, ages 5-8.

This bedtime story of sleeping mermaids, dreaming genies, and stargazing wizards uses beautiful words and stunning illustrations to put a reader to sleep. Rich colors and textures created through collage elements will entice readers to explore the pictures closely. The illustrators, a husband and wife team, have illustrated over thirty books, including “The Many Color Days” by Dr. Seuss and “Amazing Peace” by Maya Angelou.

“The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses” by Lisa Wheeler, Illustrated by Zachariah Ohora, 2013, Atheneum, ages 4-8.

A young girl’s search for the perfect pet begins as research project, with a scientific query, a notebook for field notes, and trips to various sites for observations, including the farm, the zoo, and the woods. Through poetry, she shares what she has learned about various animals and what she decides would be a better choice for her than a pet.

“Dare to Dream: Change the World” Edited by Jill Corcoran, Illustrated by J. Beth Jepson, 2012, Kane Miller, ages 8-11.

Poetry and biography come together in this touching picture book. Inspired by the populace uprising in Egypt, editor Jill Corcoran created a book that represents people’s courage, spirit, and determination, sharing stories from the past and present, with the goal of making the world a better place. Contributions from various poets are eloquently presented alongside brief biographical sketches about these models of personal strength, such as Anne Frank, Father Gregory Boyle, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Vivid, bright illustrations, just as beautiful as the poetic words, will encourage readers to learn more about these leaders and heroes.

“Poems to Learn by Heart” Selected by Caroline Kennedy, Illustrated by Jon J. Muth, 2013, Hyperion Books, ages 6 and up.

Caroline Kennedy describes poems as “tiny packages of thought” and advocates learning poems by heart because these words can reassure and remind us of our own strength. In this extensive poetry collection, Kennedy, with the help of children at DreamYard in the Bronx, selected poems that portray the range of human experiences. Readers will find poems organized around the categories of nature, sports, friendship, family, and monsters and fairies and will enjoy Kennedy’s personal narrative introductions dispersed throughout the book. Illustrator Jon Muth’s exquisite watercolor paintings appear on every page of the book, making this poetry collection a treat for the ears and the eyes.

“Sweet Dreams” by Jewel, Illustrated by Amy June Bates, 2013, Simon & Schuster, ages 1-5.

A song is poetry set to music, and Grammy nominated artist Jewel presents one of her songs, “Sweet Dreams” in picture book form, with an accompanying CD of her singing performance. This bedtime lullaby, illustrated in lovely hues of blue and yellow chalk and watercolor, captures a parent’s love and dreams for a child’s future.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler

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