At my school we celebrated Poem in Your Pocket Day a few days early because it fit our schedule better. I had made sure every classroom was stocked with a stack of poems copied out on half sheets of paper and the classroom teachers worked with their kids to write or chose poems they would like to carry around to share all day long. The middle school kids went out with sidewalk chalk and wrote their poems all over every flat surface of the campus.
I had so much fun finding out which poems different kids had chosen. The adults in the building were smiling and giggling over the slips of paper in their pockets too. At dinner that night I shared my poem with my two little boys.
I had chosen a lovely poem from Brown Honey and Broomwheat Tea by Joyce Carol Thomas, illustrated by Floyd Cooper. HarperCollins, 1993. I love every poem in this book. It is overflowing with strength, joy and family closeness. From "Cherish Me, "Magic Landscape", "Hide Me in the Cradle of Your Love", and "I Am a Root" to "Bitter" and "Becoming the Tea" it is an afternoon on the porch with grandmom or a walk through the wildflower fields with dad going fishing. It makes me sigh with delight and long for summer days. Not that they are sweetness without a cautious warning; the leading poem from which the book takes its title says, "there are those who/ have brewed a/ bitter potion for/ children kissed long by the sun..." The poem I folded up to carry with me:
The fields are emerald now
....Royal with birds
....the bees hum loud enough
......to remind us
They've always known
Gray skies turn blue and
honey's been here long
....before we opened our mouths to drink
and will be forever and ever.
.....................................Joyce Carol Thomas
Isn't that the balm for an April day when you are not sure if you will need your winter coat or not? On the opening page of the book we have this description: "Broomwheat tea: good for what ails you, especially when poured by loving hands." If you are looking for a poetry book to share this spring you must get this one.
1994 Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book for Nonfiction
1994 Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book for Illustration
1994 Teachers' Choices (IRA)
Notable 1994 Childrens' Trade Books in Social Studies (NCSS/CBC)
1994 Notable Trade Books in the Language Arts (NCTE)
100 Books for Reading and Sharing (NY Public Library)
1993 "Pick of the Lists" (ABA)
Biography of Joyce Carol Thomas at Poetry for Children