Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
by Paul Fleischman
illustrated by Eric Beddows
Ages: 8 +
Interests: insects, poetry, performance, nature
Also by this author: I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices
Other poetry books that are fun to read aloud: The Dragons are Singing Tonight (Jack Prelutsky); Scranimals (Jack Prelutsky); Where the Sidewalk Ends (Shel Silverstein); Alligator Pie (Dennis Lee); Mustard, Custard, Grumble Belly and Gravy (Michael Rosen)
A collection of poetry about the imagined lives and personalities of insects, written to be recited aloud by two readers. Each poem is written out in two columns, one for each performer, and the lines are delivered alternately or together as you proceed down the page. (see the example below) The rhythm and dance of each piece will emerge as they are spoken out loud, and those who give it a chance may find this book to be a lively and fun introduction to performance poetry.
Each poem is narrated by the insect in question, and each opens a window into their world. In “Honeybees” one performer plays the queen (“Being a bee is a joy”), the other is the worker (“Being a bee is a pain”), and they go back and forth describing their contrasting daily routines. The “Moth’s Serenade” is a love song to a porch light. The stories are whimsical and have their flights of fantasy, but are also grounded in scientific fact. The “Mayflies” explain how they live their entire life in twenty-four hours, and “The Digger Wasp” describes a mother’s preparations for the children she will never live to see. The final poem, “Chrysalis Diary” records the thoughts of an astonished caterpillar as he goes through his metamorphosis into a butterfly.
I was quite charmed by this collection, and I think the performance aspect will definitely win over young readers. Reciting poetry aloud drives home the beauty and rhythm of words in a way that silent reading simply cannot. This is a terrific book to read with a friend, or with classmates at school.