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Hailstones and Halibut Bones

4.4 of 5 stars 4.40  ·  rating details  ·  491 ratings  ·  76 reviews
What is orange? What is pink? What is white? Since its original publication in 1961, Hailstones and Halibut Bones, Mary O’Neill’s renowned work of poetry about the colors of the spectrum, has become a modern children’s classic. In 12 vivid poems, O’Neill explores and celebrates colors, showing how each one can be heard, touched, smelled, and seen.

John Wallner’s lavish illu
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published April 1st 1989 by Doubleday Books for Young Readers (first published July 1st 1973)
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Beautiful verses creating lovely images in a single hue. This is a wonderful going to bed book for my son, it's extremely soothing. Unfortunately it puts my mom to sleep faster than it does him, so she can't use it. I however can read it over and over.

The title poem:

What is White?
White is a Dove
And lily of the valley
And a puddle of milk
Spilled in an alley---
A ship's sail
A kite's tail
A wedding veil
Hailstones and
Halibut bones
And some people's
The hottest and most blinding li
This is an excellent book, and I love the color poems. They are well written and they rhyme, too. I also thought is was funny to read the introduction in the book and see that publishing Hailstones and Halibut Bones was almost a mistake. The author was due with some work that was not yet ready. So her publisher came over to her house and took a look around in hope of finding SOMETHING she could use. That's when her publisher found a bunch of poems all stuffed in a desk drawer that the author, Ma ...more
This book of poems by Mary O'Neill is very touching. Every poem is focused on a color but what makes these poems so unique is their connection to all the senses, not just sight. Mary successfully makes me taste, smell, feel, and of course see each of the colors in a new way. I would definitely recommend this book to any and everyone, no matter their age.

I can think of a ton of ways to use this book in my classroom. For the older grades, I would probably use it as an introduction to poetry. I wo
May 12, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: M & J
Shelves: childhood, own, poetry
This was given to me by friends of my parents when I was very small. It seemed like a fuddy-duddy book, but I absolutely loved it. I don't think I was reading yet, or had just started, so my mother read it with me. I'm happy to see it's a classic and still around. I can still see some of the illustrations in my mind's eye even though I haven't opened the book in 200 years.
This book is fantastic for teaching poetry. I love it. It's good for description, metaphor, 5 senses, etc, and my students have really enjoyed reading the short poems.
Title: Hailstones and Hailbut Bones
Author: Mary O'Neill
Illustrator: John Wallner
Originally Published: 1961
Interest Level: 4-6, Grades 1 and Up

Summary: Award-winner Wallner has illustrated this full-color edition of O'Neill's classic poetry book. With a compelling sense of rhythm and with images that are clear and fresh, O'Neill explores the spectrum in 12 poems and 12 different colors. Wallner has created montages of each poem's images and colored them with various hues of the featured color. Th
Do you think you hate poetry? Mary O'Neill's classic book, Hailstones and Halibut Bones, will make you rethink your stance. Promise. Surely you have a favorite color... C'mon, you know you do, everyone does! Maybe you even have a few. Do you ever dream in this color or imagine all the things in the world that make this color the one that is so beautiful to you? This book of poems will engage your mind's eye with its vivid watercolor illustrations and evocative imagery and will get even the poetr ...more
Apr 28, 2013 Margaret rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margaret by: Memoria Press Junior Kindergarten

Through the recommendations of Memoria Press in their curriculum package it is amazing what is possible to provide in a pre-school or Junior Kindergarten experience and I’d say the bulk of the best of it is within the literature and poetry section. Since there are 33 weeks and 34 literature selections, let me start with telling you about the poetry because of this, there is really only three. Two, however that you use on a regular basis throughout the year of curriculum in the lesson plans. The

Tommy Novak
Every poem in this book revolves around a color and how those colors are linked to the five senses. For instance "Lonely rooms, Cold is blue, Flame from a welding torch too." Three lines all about the color blue and how it can vary. From a former art teacher's standpoint, this is an amazing way to introduce color theory and just exactly how much we are impacted by color. It extends far beyond sight into a subconscious level. Hailstones and Halibut Bones does just that!
This book is amazing. It would be a great tool for art media week or something to discuss when learning about colors and art. It has such a beautiful perspective on the things on the earth and how they are related to color and beauty. Has excellent examples of things with those certain colors and has such great structure because basically the whole book is a poem. I love it and will definitely use it someday in a classroom.
Ashley Sites
I thought that this was just a wonderful little book. I loved the illustrations that were displayed to correspond with each color that was described. I also loved the way the author compared and described each color to a certain object or time of day. Each color poem was beautiful. The illustrations were beautiful. Overall, I'll definitely be using this book later for in my classroom.
Mariah Olson
I read this book for the first time today after receiving it as a gift from one of my teachers. I absolutely loved Hailstones and Halibut Bones because it had at least 3 pages dedicated to every color which included fun examples and colorful pages. I believe this book is a great poetry book for kindergarten and first grade aged children because it's very colorful which draws the kids attention to the pages and gives many examples of all the colors which helps kids learn more about what the color ...more
Melanie Terry
I read this book in elementary school and begged my mom to buy it for me. It took us a while to first track down the name of the book and then purchase it, but it was worth it. This is such a wonderful and beautiful book. The poems are so whimsical and fun and the illustrations by John Wallner are beautiful. I highly recommend this short but sweet book.
My grandmother (a teacher) gave me this book of poetry as a young child. I grew up with O'Neill's verse lyrically dancing in my imagination and seeing the colors as alive! I loved this book and would pore over the pages. I had several favorite colors, I could not pick just one! I do not agree with the age ranges that others are posting - I read this as a very young girl, first having it read to me, then reading it later on my own and could enjoy it. A child may not understand all the comparisons ...more
My mom send me down to her shelves to grab some books for Ezra and I found this! I haven't seen it in ages but just seeing the cover brought back a flood of memories. This was my FAVORITE poetry book, I read it over and over. I loved the illustrations too! These are wonderful children's poems; they are easy to read aloud, the metaphors are simple easy to understand, and they all rhyme. (Who gets non-rhyming poetry as a kid?) I remember my favorite poem was White. I think now it's Purple.

I purchased this for the light and colors unit I developed long ago. The poems are interesting. I seem to have a love/hate (or at least a like/dislike) relationship with them. I don't think the poetry is great. I do think, however, that the poems lend themselves to deep thinking. Many colors are written about. Each is titled "What is Red?", "What is Yellow?", etc. Then the poet explains the colors for two to three pages. Green is April. White is like hailstones and halibut bones.

This is reminis
This is a beautiful literary illustration of colors. I would recommend this for any classroom or home, or even for someone who wants a fun read. I would love to read this to kindergartners and do a color unit with them. So many potentials for fun extension activities!
Shellii Huff
Borrowed this book from the library to read to my grandson. I was so impressed by it, I looked the author up on line. On her website she had added a wonderful activity to go along with "Hailstones and Halibut Bones." Without hesitation I implemented the activity into my next "Guest Parent Presents" at his preschool. We all had so much fun with the project and many of the students could not wait to give it as a gift to family members. Had a great deal of fun talking about words, sounds, & col ...more
This was one of my favorite childhood books so I bought it for my own children. I was an artist and always felt attracted to this artists poetic ideas about colors. Sort of like Julie Andrews singing about her favorite things.
The most classic of all classic poetry books. Great to possibly pair nowadays with "The Black Book of Colors." This is one of those poetry books that redefines poetry in school. So many of the great poetry books did that for this genre…Shel Silverstein, Judith Viorst, Jack Prelutsky, and, of course, Dr. Seuss.

This one is so old, I'm afraid that too many people don't even know about it. So, that is why I decided to post on it. Her idea to bring the abstract world of colors into the more concrete
Kathleen Heroux
O'Neill, K.(1989). Hailstoes and Halibut Bones,Doubleday,
New York, N.Y.
Copyright, 1961.
Illinstrated by: Leonard Weisgard.
Newly illustrated: John Wallner.
Interest Level: K-3
Reading Level: 3

Hailstones and HalibuBones is read aloud book, recommended in The Read Aloud Handbook. It is a book that could be read independently by a child who is beyond early chilhood.
This book of poetry presents thoughts and images of colors and stylized illustrations of children of varied features.

The current reade
Another Leonard Weisgard illustrated book -- I picked this to get from the library out of his illustrated work simply on title alone. The poem by O'Neill definitely has some nice moments; unfortunately it's dated and tells us that Indians are Red and Babies are Pink. But otherwise sweet and even goes beyond the basic iamges that you might expect in many poems about colors for children: "You can smell blue / In many a thing: / Gentian and larkspur / Forget-me-nots, too. / And if you listen / You ...more
This is a wonderful and vibrant book depicting, through poetry, 12 basic colors. It was first printed in 1961, but has been reprinted over and over since then. And it is no wonder why. The author takes us through these colors that we see everyday, but she helps us better recognize that "each has a taste, and each has a smell, and each has a wonderful story to tell..." I loved the simple but descriptive poetry and found myself changing what I thought my favorite color was based on each colors des ...more
Melinda Brasher
I cried when I read this book because it was so beautiful. I love the poetry of color. Great for kids and adults alike.
Green is my favorite, of course. But they all stir the imagination and move the spirit.
Great book. Such awesome palpable descriptions of color.
Dec 03, 2007 Carly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grades K-8
Shelves: poetry
This is a really neat poetry book that can be used in any grade level. I used it with fourth graders to teach descriptive writing and poetry but you could use it in the classroom in a variety of ways. It is full of poems on the different colors. The poems are very descriptive and have great comparisons and imagery. The illustrations are really nice as well. Kids would like it because kids like poetry and my students enjoyed it when I read the poem and had them guess which color it was about.
It's difficult to write rhyming poetry that isn't contrived or trite. Mary O'Neill succeeds in writing simple yet vivid poetry with rhymes that don't get in the way of the images she's trying to create.

Yellow blinks
On summer nights
In the off-and-on of
Firefly lights.
Yellow's a topaz
A candle flame.
Felicity's a
Yellow name.
Yellow's mimosa
And I guess,
Yellow's the color of

Unfortunately, some of the material is dated.
My mother read these color poems to me as a child. Reading them is like comfort food. I love poetry because of her. My favorite poems is Black . . ."The sound of black is BOOM, BOOM, BOOM echoing in an empty room. Black is a feeling hard to explain, like suffering but without the pain. Think of what starlight and lamp light would lack, Diamonds and fireflies, if they couldn't lean against black."
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Mary ONeill was raised in what she describes as a wonderful barn of a Victorian house in Berea, Ohio, where she wrote and directed plays for her younger brothers and sisters . She was educated at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, and Western Reserve in Cleveland and the University of Michigan. Mrs. ONeill entered the advertising field and became a partner in her own advertising agency. She retired from ...more
More about Mary O'Neill...
The Sound of Day, the Sound of Night Ali People I'd Like to Keep Words Words Words What is Orange?

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“Think of what starlight
And lamplight would lack
Diamonds and fireflies
If they couldn’t lean against Black. . . .”
More quotes…