Junior Poets

             Charming Junior Poet Characters in Children’s Picture Books & … tips for actual junior poets are at teachers and families page, YOUNG READERS as WRITERS section, scroll down a bit

Alpha, by the character’s first name, from picture & chapter books, m.g. novels

CALPURNIA  Calpurnia is a one-name child poet who discovers a surprise way to bring food to her family & others, during hard times in the forest. On a journey away from her loving parents & with her faithful dog “…Buggy Horse. Of course.” Calpurnia presents pink paper flowers to a wise woman. Remembering the woman’s conjure advice when she is deep in the forest, helps Calpurnia face frights that would send other kids packing home. Calpurnia speaks all her poems, such as:

If somebody scares you, the thing to do

is give somebody something to do.

Then they never bother you.

Sometimes they say, “thank you.” c. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, THE SECRET RIVER

Calpurnia’s untitled poems are from the picture book, THE SECRET RIVER, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. Although I love this classic edition as a fan of not only Rawlings, but also, the legendary Weisgard’s many projects for the books of Margaret Wise Brown, the atmospheric 2011 edition is a delight. The stunning re-issue of this story, with artwork from the husband & wife team of Leo & Diane Dillon, won an international design award. Most wonderfully, it presents Calpurnia as a black child, the aspect left ambiguous  in 1955, the date of the first issue.



Jack is the one-name poet student in the popular HATE THAT DOG, by Sharon Creech. A teacher character now as famous to middle grade novel readers as Miss Frizzle is to the picture book set,  the poetry-loving Miss Stretchberry nurtures her students as beginning poets in fourth grade. Jack is the student poet introduced in DOG. Then for more delight, in his fifth grade year he is looped with the same workshop-leading teacher, for good results. A cat and a kitty figure in the subsequent volume that presents Jack’s blooming feelings & poetry, HATE THAT CAT.  It brought the wet eyes. Miss Stretchberry, you are much appreciated. Jack’s mom is, too. Jack is, too. And yes, a cat person here, love my cat. And the CAT link, you will find, is to wildly wonderful teachers blogging, Franki & Mary Lee, at A YEAR OF READING.

A good poet would be


to paint, 

with words,

things you can feel

but don’t know how to say.

from Jack’s untitled poem of  January 31, c. Sharon Creech, LOVE THAT CAT



Rachel, who is always called Ratchet by her mechanic Dad (got me right there, Rachel, as my dear Dad was a “proper tool” great mechanic) writes throughout the home school year. She has a new journal, finally, instead of tag-sale legal pads that smell of wet dog. Dad is not always as attentive to Rachel/Ratchet as he is to misdeeds of local politcos in Blainesfield, But unfortunately for Rachel/Ratchet, the screw that is loose may not only be in his tool box. No wonder that she is not always appreciative of what she has. If this sounds typical it’s truly, not. It’s only because Rachel/Ratchet isn’t speaking here, so let’s hear her:

The mute button

Has been pressed


Every day

Life is still happening…

Eating meals,

fixing cars,

Sneaking off
To build go-carts
With the boys,

But the sound

Between Dad and me

is turned off.

I’m not sure if he

Even notices. c. Nancy J.Cavanaugh, THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET (p. 141)

With Rachel/Ratchet lifting litter at a Blainesfield park, or sneaking a look in the locked box, or revising life goals, we meet an introspective, hoping, writing poet child who beguiles.  Is a magazine style make-over what she needs? How about details about her Mom? I will not spoil the story, but be ready for reader heartmelt.  


Zuri Jackson is a junior poet character who writes:

Danitra’s scared of pigeons. I promised not to tell.

Then I opened my big mouth and out the secret fell.

I tried to shove it right back in, though it was much too late.

I told her I was sorry, but Danitra didn’t wait…

from “The Secret” c. Nikki Grimes,  MEET DANITRA BROWN

My, how I like it that Zuri, lively child, is eager for the world to know about her buddy, Danitra Brown. And I like it that Zuri shares their foibles, with abandon. And oh, what introspections the two city girls trade, amidst adventures they traipse through. A boy said Zuri has toothpick legs & he called out Danitra for her “big and thick and round” eyeglasses. (Both accusations fit child days of yours truly & my heartmelt happened within the Zuri poem these moments are in,”Coke-bottle Brown.” But even more I like it that Zuri expresses all her vibrant ideas writing her own poetry,which tumbles through the picture book like a downspout gushing on a concrete sidewalk. Extra treat – warm oil wash illustrations by artist Floyd Cooper are expectedly poetic. This should link to Jan Lawrence’s resource packet on Floyd Cooper. You’ll be wanting more of Danitra, especially her school events, and country days, so look into her subsequent poetry picture books, also by the poet brings her to us, Nikki Grimes: DANITRA BROWN, CLASS CLOWN ( illustrated by E. B. Lewis) & DANITRA BROWN LEAVES TOWN (Floyd Cooper, again.) They are all, to borrow a word from junior poet Danitra, splendiferous.


Citation for this list: Charming Junior Poets/Bookseedstudio © Jan Godown Annino. Jan Godown Annino is the author of SHE SANG PROMISE, an ALA listed picture book. Charming poet character suggestions are welcome.  Send the published picture book, chapter book or middle grade novel title, author & young poet character name with Junior Poet in the subject line to  JGAoffice at gmail dot com.      Character names may appear here, before the entry is complete.  Thank you!  ~ Jan

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