Editor's Note
Reviews Roundup: Novels in Verse

Novels in verse are not only for lovers of poetry, but for anyone who enjoys seeing language pared down and employed in creative, unconventional ways. The succinct storytelling is compelling for audiences of all sorts, including reluctant readers who may find the abundance of white space inviting, as Sylvia Vardell points out in "Novels in Verse: New, Diverse and Accessible." Then there are the people who want to carve out space in their schedules for more reading, but lack the time or patience to devote to a complex, multi-volume series. For these folks, the brevity and concision of verse novels may inspire them to return to reading. Novels in verse follow a traditional storyline structure like any prose novel, but tend to incorporate a certain musicality and other poetic elements not typically found in prose. They draw from what is best in poetry and what is best in prose novels to create a new and exciting combination all of its own. In honor of National Poetry Month, we are highlighting some of SLC's best reviewed and compelling examples of novels in verse. Educators might use any of these titles as a fresh, unintimidating method for broaching the study of poetry with their students. One thing is certain, whether you are totally new to the genre or a staunch aficionado, there is something here for everyone to enjoy!

Juleah Del Rosario
500 Words or Less
2018. Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster). Grade 9-12

The coming-of-age novel, written in verse, flows freely, leading readers along and inviting them to contemplate their own self-discovery and identity. The novel provides discussion points on the psychology of senioritis which could be explored and discussed in the context of preparing teens for the future. Certainly, this is a novel containing deep themes that many readers will relate to. Get ready to not put this title down!
—Reviewed by Peg Billing
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Laurie Halse Anderson
2019. Viking Children's Books (Penguin Young Readers Group). Grade 9-12

Truly, the book is greater than the sum of its parts; whereas specific verse or chapters can stand alone, the collective masterpiece is clear considering today's pressing universal social issues. Multiple copies should be on order and necessary conversations will follow because her words are both a sounding board and call to action. In an evenly-paced unfolding of events, she brings readers full circle beginning with the reason for her decision to write Speak (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1999) twenty years ago to why it seems like it could have been written last week.
—Reviewed by Alicia Abdul
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Reviews Roundup4
Aida Salazar
The Moon Within
2019. Scholastic, Inc. Grade 6-8

The moon is a central focus in the narrative and the 29-day cycle aligns with Celi as she grows into an acceptance of her femininity and a respect for the strengths of her indigenous roots and musical traditions. The luminous cover art and moon calendar by Joe Cepeda are brilliant introductions to the book's themes of dance, movement, music, the moon, color, flowers, and joy. The poems flow with stunning imagery and Spanish cadences. The characters leap to life and eloquently evoke the passion and pain of a girl's coming-of-age.
—Reviewed by Lonna Pierce
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Reviews Roundup3
David Elliott
2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Grade 9-12

This book is a tongue-in-cheek, almost disturbing adaptation of the Greek tale, Theseus and the Minotaur. Written in verse, the story shifts back and forth between the voices of different gods and goddesses. The writing is fresh and fun, but also often bitingly sarcastic and a bit raw. The author does stick fairly closely to the original tale, and readers will be quickly drawn into the problems of the characters and the dark, often violent, attempts to resolve their troubles. The story is told in a contemporary voice with language kids use today, making this a great book to use in high school mythology units.
—Reviewed by Melinda Miller
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Alex Casavant, SLC Reviews Team

MLA Citation Casavant, Alex. "Reviews Roundup: Novels in Verse." School Library Connection, April 2019, schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2197633.

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Entry ID: 2197633

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