Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices - Paul Fleischman

            Fleischman’s Newbery Medal winning short book of poetry captures a rarely lionized subject matter, that of the insect kingdom. Over a dozen different creatures are each given their own tribute poem, which describes the many activities, characteristics, and personalities of each insect. The poems are divided into two columns of verse for children, with or without an adult, to read out loud to one another, sometimes in tandem, and other times independently in order to elicit a specific dynamic. Various poetic devices are used including onomatopoeia, alliteration, and repetition in order for each insect group to have a specific musical identity. There may be some early difficulties in coordinating the reading before a rhythmic pacing can be naturally established. Once done, however, the humor and lighthearted lyrics are sure to delight readers who are new to poetry as well as those already familiar with the literary genre.

Eric Beddows artwork captures the feel of the poems by having illustrations that fluctuate between scientific studies in anatomy and, as is more often the case, delightfully anthropomorphized insects in loving, whimsical, and even seductive posses. Seemingly etched in charcoal, the art enhances the poems and illustrates each insect without overwhelming or distracting the readers.