Traveling the Blue Road: Poems of the Sea
A 2018 Notable Poetry Book for Children (National Council of Teachers of English)
Selected for Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2018 by NCSS-CBC, a cooperative project of the National Council for the Social Studies and the Children’s Book Council
Traveling the Blue Road is a carefully curated collection of kid-friendly poetry about the ever inspiring subject of the ocean. Themes include pilgrimages, migration, culture, and more.
Prepare to be inspired by the sea with Traveling the Blue Road. This book is packed with gorgeous illustrations that surround a collection of poetry for children on the themes of the courage, beauty, and promise of sea voyages.
Compiled and edited by award-winning poet Lee Bennett Hopkins, the poems describe how the sea has historically shone as a metaphor for both hope and despair, and served as a pathway for people searching for new life. Traveling the Blue Road includes poems about the pilgrims coming to the New World, the Mariel boatlift, the Vietnamese boat people, a Dutch slave ship, the current migration situation in the Mediterranean, and the voyage of the St. Louis.
Contributing poets include Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Paul B. Janeczko, J. Patrick Lewis, Allan Wolf, Marilyn Nelson, Denver Butson, Georgia Heard, Jane Yolen, Naomi Shihab Nye, and G. Neri, and Margarita Engle, the recently named Young People’s Poet Laureate.
Named one of Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2018!
My thoughts on this book:
This book contains a wonderful collection of poems relating to multiple maritime journeys from the past and present. Poems range from 1492 when Columbus sailed in search of the Indies up to the Sama-Bajau people, present day. There are many other voyages shared including the Pilgrims’ Mayflower journey to America for religious freedom, The Middle Passage, and the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 to name a few.
We appreciated all of the poems. Many are extremely powerful, emotional, and easily capture your attention. Some of the poems and illustrations may evoke fear in younger children and may be difficult for them to understand because a few involve slavery, kidnapping and death, but they are honest and share truth about our history, presenting information not typically shared in traditional textbooks.
I really appreciated that the author included a note’s section to describe each event so that children who may not be fully aware of them obtain insight. The writing is also very easy for them to understand. I was also very pleased that the author included an ‘about’ section which gives you a little biographical information about each poet. In addition, the illustrations in this book are striking, eye-catching, and convey the hardships experienced during these times.
My personal opinion is that this book would be perfect for elementary students, primarily 4th grade and up. I believe it’s listed at 3rd grade and up, but I think it’s best for older children, or children that have a fairly good understanding about these tough times in history. The poems are compelling and will more than likely spark interest, motivating kids to ask questions. It’s a wonderful supplement to history curriculum’s and it’s definitely going down as one of my favorite children’s books of 2018.
I’d like to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book to share my honest review.
- Age Range: 8 – 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 – 7
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: Seagrass Press (October 17, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1633222764
- ISBN-13: 978-1633222762
This is book #11 on my NetGalley/Edelweiss Challenge. You can see it HERE.