Everything Comes Next: Collected & New Poems

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
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Unforgettable collection celebrates diversity and kindness.

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Educational Value

Introduces kids to poetry. A wonderful essay at the back of the book titled "Slim Thoughts" offers advice for readers at "the beginning of any writing adventure." Don't start with a big idea -- start with a phrase, a line, or a quote. Explore the joys of a pen on paper. Never think about "how long does this have to be?" If you believe in revision you don't have to worry about perfection. Writing can help you feel uplifted and exhilarated. The author also explores topical issues like the struggle between Palestinians and Israelis' struggle over the Occuplied Territories and the Palestinian refugee and immigrant experience.  

Positive Messages

For young readers who love to write but may be intimated by the idea of becoming a poet, this collection sends an encouraging message. A poem can be about anything. It can be silly or serious, long or only a few lines, about big issues or the small things in daily life. Just begin, says the author. "The more you write, the more words will come to you."

Positive Role Models

The author is a role model for aspiring writers and poets. She shows you can write about anything, serious or silly, and gives solid writing tips. She models having an open heart to people of different backgrounds and national origins.

Violence

Lines in poems speak about soldiers who come with "guns, uniforms, declarations,"  how "soldiers stalk a pharmacy: big guns, little pills" and a child hitting his friend with a rock. Verses in one poem share how the author's "Jewish friends have never taken my house, my land, herded me into a cell, tortured me, cut down my tree, never once. My Arab friends have never built a bomb."

 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know Naomi Shihab Nye's Everything Comes Next: Collected & New Poems includes more than 100 poems from the United States' Young People's Poet Laureate. While some are familiar favorites ("Famous," "Kindness" and "Valentine for Ernest Mann"), others have never been published before. She writes of childhood from a child's point of view and from the perspective of a parent and teacher, and also about being a Palestinian American and the daughter of a father still grieving for his family's lost home in Jerusalem. There are poems about Paris, San Antonio, and Montana, about courage, feeling wise, and how frogs do not forget and "oatmeal cookies make my throat gallop." This is truly a book to be treasured, with poems that can both delight and inform a 9-year-old and then be read again and again with new insight and understanding as readers grow older.

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What's the story?

EVERYTHING COMES NEXT: COLLECTED & NEW POEMS is divided into three sections. "The Holy Land of Childhood" has poems about how to become a writer, sharing a room with a brother, the reasons you should always bring a pencil, why libraries are "the reasons we can say these things," and a hilarious story about the time she and a friend started walking around in a private residence, mistaking it for a local art museum. "The Holy Land That Isn't" has a serious tone, and the 18 poems focus on the author's Arab heritage. Here, there are poems about Arabic coffee, a 15-year-old who lives in Gaza, her father's love of fig trees, the Occupied Territories, armed soldiers and people being forced from their homes. In the longest section, "People Are the Only Holy Land," there are poems about her travels to Paris, Tegucigalpa, and Japan and life in her home state of Texas. There are poems about happiness and state mottoes (Idaho's is "Let it be perpetual"), poems that declare "you can't order a poem like you order a taco" or touch the Puffins, and ones about young poets who live in Winnipeg, Canada, and an act of kindness at the Albuquerque airport.

Is it any good?

This compelling collection has poems that will make you laugh and others that will make you sad. Poems that will teach you something new about the world. Poems readers will return to year after year. Everything Comes Next has verses that are silly enough ("Music lives inside my legs. It's coming out when I talk") to delight even the most poetry averse readers. Other poems (particularly about the continuing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis) take on mature subjects and may need a parent to explain the background and context.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the poems in Everything Comes Next that speak about the small everyday things in life. What are the "small" things in your life that are the most meaningful?

  • The author encourages readers to explore the joy of writing with a pen and paper. How do you think writing a poem on your computer would be different that writing one with a pen? What could be joyful about writing with a pen?

  • If you wrote a poem about your childhood, what would the title be?

Book details

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For kids who love poetry

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