Every Second Something Happens

reviewed by Kristine Morris

Poems for the Mind and Senses

Selected by Christine San José and Bill Johnson, with illustrations by Melanie Hall

Every Second Something HappensPoetry for children has to be the very best. It has to tickle the mind and heart using words that are easy for parent and child to say together, and it has to match a child’s capacity for wonder and amazement at the bright, shining world that is being discovered daily. Christine San José, a former senior editor at Highlights for Children and a consultant on children’s language development, and Bill Johnson, an educational consultant, writer, and former elementary school teacher, searched through thousands of poems, both old and very new (some even written by children) to put together a collection that is sure to delight all ages; it may even encourage little ones (or parents) to try creating poems of their own — the authors suggest keeping pencil and paper handy!

“We’ve organized the verse in a way that follows the natural human approaches to making sense of the world,” say San José and Johnson, “through language, senses (eyes, ears, movement), rational thinking, dealings with others, and knowledge of ourselves … so this book might quite rightly be reckoned as poetry in the service of children’s intellectual development … helping children use all their native wits and sensitivities to discover the myriad delights of poetry.”

Headings like “Tell Me,” “Look at This,” “Listen to This,” “Imagine That,” and “Wiggle, Waggle, Shimmy, Shake” highlight just which intelligences the poems address, and “Love to Share” and “That’s Me!” bring the individual child a larger awareness of community; all show how poets “choose the very best words” to invite us into their worlds.

Melanie Hall has illustrated many books for children, including Winter Song: A Poem by William Shakespeare, and The Seventh Day by Deborah Bodin Cohen, which was named a Notable Children’s Book of Jewish Content by the Association of Jewish Libraries. Hall’s bright, colorful illustrations add a good measure of joy and fun to this wonderful addition to any family reading library.


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