This blog is a continuation of a class assignment for the TWU course 5603, Literature for Children and Young Adults. Subsequent entries are for TWU course 5653, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. The new entries are for TWU course 5663, Poetry for Children and Young Adults.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

Joyful Noise:
Poems for Two Voices
By Paul Fleischman

Cover image retrieved 4/15/13 from

Fleischman, Paul, and Eric Beddows. Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. ISBN 9780060218522  

Critical Analysis
Like the twittering of birds in the treetops or the chirping of crickets in the woods on a starry night, Joyful Noise Poems for Two Voices has the delightful repartee of a soulful, natural melody.  Mr. Fleischman has composed an assortment of poems about members of the insect world. These poems are more serious and scholarly than those on the same subject by Douglas Florian in Insectlopedia, yet each book contains an engaging mix of poems to learn from and enjoy. Organized in a table of contents at the front of the book, Joyful Noise presents science poetry that is responsive and informative.

An author’s note at the beginning of the book tells the reader that,

"The following poems were written to be read aloud by two readers at once, one
taking the left-hand part, the other taking the right-hand part. The poems should 
be read from top to bottom, the two parts meshing as in a musical duet. When
both readers have lines at the same horizontal level, those lines are to be
spoken simultaneously."

These explicit instructions are important to insure that the reader approaches the material in the best manner, to reap the greatest benefit. Reading the poems independently requires the reader to use imagination, to “hear” both set of lines read aloud. This is both a hindrance and a help, for it forces the reader to closely consider the arrangement and flow of the words. When read by two voices, the poems are a playful, yet rich representation. Rhythm and sound blend seamlessly when a pair of readers follow the designated flow. Achieving the author’s intent is a bit more challenging than with most poetry presentation, but the outcome is worth the effort.

Readers will find connections to many types of insects. This book would be wonderful paired with a variety of non-fiction texts. Using these poems for a poetry break during Science class would extend students’ learning through sensory imagery. Vocabulary and insect characteristics provide readers the chance to learn more and gain a deeper understanding of the insect world. Joyful Noise would be an excellent addition to any library or classroom collection.

Book Reviews

Peter K. Quigg (KLIATT Review, September 1992 (Vol. 26, No. 6))
Since poetry was originally an auditory medium that is seldom read aloud anymore Fleischman’s poems are a good introduction to the oral tradition of verse. As the title suggests, these are poems written in two voices meant to be uttered together. Equally important is the beauty of the illustrations, which are copiously sprinkled throughout the book. This is an engaging collection that is highly recommended to introduce students to the variety, scope, and interdisciplinary aspects of poetry.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Fleischman and Beddows (I Am Phoenix) are paired again for another remarkable collection of poems written to be read, by two people, out loud. Mayflies, moths, crickets and other insects join voices in clever musical duets. Beddows’s black-and-white drawings blend biology-text accuracy with charming cartoon fancies and keep pace with the imaginative verse.

Mary Quattlebaum (Children’s Literature)
Written to be read aloud by two readers, this Newbery Medal winner abounds with insect sounds and doings. Watch for the book lice whose taste ranges from Schiller to thrillers.

Book Awards
John Newbery Medal, 1989 Winner United States

Best Book Lists
Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, 12th Edition, 1999 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Best Books for Young Adults, 1988 ; American Library Association YALSA; United States
Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Twelfth Edition, 1995 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Children’s Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

Poetry Break!
Spotlight Poem

Being a bee                                                    Being a bee
                                                                 is a joy.
is a pain.
                                                                 I’m a queen
I’m a worker
I’ll gladly explain.                                             I’ll gladly explain.
                                                                 Upon rising, I’m fed
                                                                 by my royal attendants,
I’m up at dawn, guarding
the hive’s narrow entrance
                                                                 I’m bathed
then I take out
the hive’s morning trash
                                                                 then I’m groomed.
then I put in an hour
making wax,
without two minutes’ time
to sit still and relax.
                                                                 The rest of my day
                                                                 is quite simply set forth:
Then I might collect nectar
from the field
three miles north
                                                                 I lay eggs,
or perhaps I’m on
larva detail
                                                                 by the hundred.
feeding the grubs
in their cells,
wishing the I were still
helpless and pale.
                                                                 I’m loved and I’m lauded,
                                                                 I’m outranked by none.
Then I pack combs with
pollen- not my idea of fun.
                                                                 When I’ve done
                                                                 enough laying
Then, weary, I strive
                                                                 I retire
to patch up any cracks
in the hive.
                                                                 for the rest of the day.
Then I build some new cells,
slaving away at
enlarging this Hell,
dreading the sight
of another sunrise,
wondering why we don’t
all unionize.
Truly a bee’s is the                                                   Truly a bee’s is the
worst                                                                  best
of all lives.                                                    of all lives.

Learning Extensions
·      Preselect two readers to practice and prepare this selection to present to the class.
·      Divide class into two groups, one on the left side of the room, one on the right.
·      Ask the left group to focus mainly on the first reader (left side) of the poem. Ask the right group to focus mainly on the second reader (right side) of the poem. Instruct students to listen for words or phrases that convey the point of view of each reader.
·      Ask the readers to present the selection, reading with inflection.

·      Ask students to share the points of view of each reader. What words and phrases clued the listener to the point of view? Who is each reader representing?
·      Display the poem for students to see, via document camera, or distribute copies of the poem. Let the original readers lead the groups to read the poem chorally, group vs. group. Encourage students to read with inflection, to convey the viewpoint of the bee they represent.
·      Ask the students to read the poem chorally again, this time chanting their lines. Discuss how the style of delivery changes the intonation and meaning of the poem.

Other Books by Paul Fleischman
Author’s website:

Picture books
The Birthday Tree
The Animal Hedge
Rondo in C
Shadow Play
Time Train
Lost: A Story in String
Sidewalk Circus
Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella
The Dunderheads
The Dunderheads Behind Bars

Younger fiction
Finzel The Farsighted
Half-A-Moon Inn
Phoebe Danger, Detective

Short stories
Graven Images
Coming-and-Going Men

Mind's Eye

I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices

Path of the Pale Horse
Rear-View Mirrors
The Borning Room
Bull Run
A Fate Totally Worse than Death

Townsend's Warbler
Copier Creations
Dateline: Troy
Cannibal in the Mirror

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