Joyful Noise:
Poems for Two Voices

by Paul Fleischman

Paul Fleischman's Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
illustrated by Eric Beddows

Book review by Ramona Davis

Ages 6+

Who says Dr. Dolittle is the only one who can hear the animals think? Now you can too!

It's not everyday that a book about bugs delights me, but put bugs describing their lives, poetry, and vivid pen and ink drawings into a collection and there's definitely a winner!

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman sounds like a gospel hymnal my grandmother would have carried to church each Sunday, but after glancing at the cover, you will find that those sounds come from nature's creation, called insects.

image from the book Joyful Noise

This poetry collection boasts 14 of the most adorable poems, all spoken in the voices of the bugs they represent, all to be read aloud with someone- sometimes one at a time, sometimes simultaneously- all in the merry tradition of Frere Jacques, an elementary school classic.

Joyful Noise celebrates natures insect world from the water strider who "whenever we're asked/ we walk upon water" to the book lice "who dwell who dwell/ in these dusty bookshelves." My favorite of all the poems in this book, however, was 'Chrysalis Diary':

side by side text

Paul Fleischman has created a wonderfully unique book that could be used in a variety of ways. As a workshop creator, I see writing and art possibilities, using the poems as spring boards for creativity for almost any age group.

The teacher in me sees Mr. Fleischman's book as an opportunity to make learning fun by having youth research the insects they are most drawn to, creating the perfect presentation/study project, and working across multiple subjects to maximize learning potential.

And as a poetry lover, well, as a poetry lover I see the lives of wonderful insects jump off the page through renga-like poems, with sing songy verse and lively drawings, brought to life by two voices, reciting aloud, in perfect harmony.

Whether you are looking for poems moving enough to touch your heart, or funny enough to make you giggle your sadness away, Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices is amazing and should be the one poetry book no home is without!

More Newbery winners.

More kids' science books.

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Read more of Ramona's reviews.

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