Firefly July

Firefly July


Firefly July
A Year of Very Short Poems

Selected by Paul B. Janeczko
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

I was thrilled to come across Firefly July, a gorgeous compilation of poetry, illustrated with fresh and vibrant art, perfect for children. Organized according to season, the poems take you from spring to summer to fall to winter. The book bursts with color and sounds, perfect images tumbling from page to page. I love the water lilies and rusty old trucks, umbrellas and steamships, daisies and a big orange cat. A red fence covered with black crows sits lonely and bare in snow. A snowman’s scarf and mittens blow in the wind.

Animals appear from page to page, both in the words and the art. “The fog comes on little cat feet,” there’s a “wrinkled stone like an elephant’s skin,” and “open-billed gulls . . . creak like rusted gates.”

Images from the sky and the weather abound. The “sun’s a roaring dandelion,” and “the moon was but a chin of gold.” A wild winter wind tears itself to shreds; fog conquers skyscrapers and makes a magic cloak. The stars are a night sky of clover.

Each page is like a tiny present, and it’s no wonder, with the best writers gathered here—Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, Patricia Hubbell, Jim Harrison, Ted Kooser, and many more.

The compiler, Paul Janeczko, is an acclaimed poet himself, and Melissa Sweet’s art has won numerous awards, including A River of Words being selected as a Caldecott Honor Book.

This lovely poem by J. Patrick Lewis, from which the title is taken, captures the feel of the entire collection:

“When I was ten, one summer night,
The baby stars that leapt
Among the trees like dimes of light,
I cupped, and capped, and kept.”

Each of these poems is like a baby star, to be cupped, and capped, and kept.