Leslie Bulion does it again with her newest poetry book about creepy crawly spiders, Spi-ku! It’s filled with amazing facts and information about the different types of spiders, how and what they eat, how they catch their prey and so much more! We loved reading the informational parts of the text along with her creative poems. My three boys especially love the back and forth poems about the trickster spiders! The way illustrator, Robert Meganck, integrates the spiders and their webs is beautiful and engaging! We loved picking out the different spiders and searching for them on the pages. This book is wonderful to learn about nonfiction text and poetry, looking at different types of poetry, learning about spiders, inspiring a spider nature walk; there are just so many ways to learn while reading Spi-ku!
I was familiar with Leslie’s work because she writes such wonderful and informative poems. Last year my third graders and I did an author visit with her on World Read Aloud Day about her book, Superlative Birds. It was so wonderful to hear about how she comes up with poems that are interesting, factual and yet fun to read! We loved speaking with her and hearing about her process! We were just getting ready to write nonfiction pieces ourselves and it was a wonderful segue to show how information text can be gathered and written; not just in paragraph format but also in other ways like the beauty that is poetry! See below for some bonus insider information from our interview with Leslie! Thank you Leslie for taking the time to answer our questions and being a part of our celebration of poetry this month!
Thank you Peachtree Publishing for a copy to review. All opinions are our own.
Interview with Leslie
About her books:
- What are your memories about learning poetry?
When introducing poetry to our class, my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Brownworth, asked us to memorize and recite a poem. I memorized “Sneezles” by A.A. Milne from his collection NOW WE ARE SIX. I loved the rhyme, the rollicking rhythm, the made-up words, the sly silliness, and the last line, a loving and gentle zinger. Those are still favorite elements I use in my own poetry. We wrote lots of poems that year, and my first was “The Grass is Green.” It’s about…leaf litter critters! How’s that for story circularity?
- What advice would you give to a child who sees poetry as “boring”?
Let’s share poetry love with readers the same way we help readers who may not have found their spark book/genre…yet:
Explore together! Maybe funny poetry, like A HATFUL OF DRAGONS, will open the door for one reader. Verse novels may grab another. They’re written at all levels and genres from LOVE THAT DOG and INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN to THE CROSSOVER and THE POET X. Try a poetry collection about a particular interest (spiders, anyone??), or a particular poetic form such as the concrete poems in A POKE IN THE I. Spoken word poetry is having an amazing moment thanks to the remarkable work of Amanda Gorman, and spoken word events are exciting! By the way, reading all poetry aloud—hearing the rhythms and speaking the words—brings its music to life. Explore lyrics to a reader’s favorite song—that’s poetry, too!
- How do you know so much about spiders?
I chose the topic because I wanted to learn! I read (and reread) widely, then more specifically. I visit museums, contact scientists, and follow their science communications online. I always do my own hands-on, boots-on explorations. For SPI-KU (and still!) I don my headlamp for nighttime spider hunts. I take photos and post some on insect enthusiast groups for help since spiders are tricky to identify!
- If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to do and why?
I love taking field ecology classes, going on nature adventures, and sharing what I learn with others. I’ve had wonderful adventures visiting our national parks—they are such treasures—so I think I should be a US National Park ranger in my next life.
- What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?
There are so many books I carry with me that I can’t possibly pick one, or even ten! So I’ll reach back to the cusp of my own coming of age for an answer. I was a voracious independent reader from third grade on, and mostly chose books with an element of fantasy or magic. THE PIGMAN, an assigned book for our sixth grade English class, broke my heart open with its portrayal of realistic teens, questionable choices, and consequences.
- What is one item in your fridge that tells us about you?
Pickles! Especially salty, garlicky, spicy, surprising ones—so fun! I can still taste the long-gone “ginger hots” I found at a farmer’s market while traveling two years ago…let me know if you find any!