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The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects
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The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  262 ratings  ·  65 reviews
A celebrated duo reunites for a look at poems through history inspired by objects—earthly and celestial—reflecting the time in which each poet lived.

A book-eating moth in the early Middle Ages. A peach blossom during the Renaissance. A haunted palace in the Victorian era. A lament for the hat in contemporary times. Poetry has been a living form of artistic expression for t
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Candlewick Press
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Aug 24, 2015 rated it liked it
"The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects" is one of the "non-fiction" selections for Chapter and verse Book Club this year. We are reading it as a possible contender for the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal. At the same time that the book list of award contenders for 2015 publications for our book club was released, "The Death of the Hat" appeared in a Star Tribune article on August 18th entitled, "Lovely Picture Books for Your Kids on Sharks, Poetry, North Woods L ...more
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book very much, both for its selection of poetry (my favorites were "The Death of the Hat" by Billy Collins, "Lament, for Cocoa" by John Updike and "The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver) and for its charming illustrations by Chris Raschka. Took me a month or more to get through the 50 page book but I enjoyed that pace & looking back at the illustrations afterwards. ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Janeczko has collected here an excellent representation of poems from different cultures and time periods, starting with the early Middle Ages. All of the poems center around objects, which must have been a challenge to find during times when poetry tended to be more abstract or philosophical. His introduction provides an overview of the time periods and poets selected. I discovered a few poets I’d never heard of before, like Jusammi Chikako and Charlotte Smith. These poems were selected with ca ...more
Feb 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
I really liked the introduction here and I was excited to see this concept in action. In the end, though, I don't think this approach to the topic of poetry works, especially because when you search for poems about an object you often end up with obscure poems by fantastic poets rather than the poems these writers are famous for.

The watercolor artwork did a good job of spotlighting the subjects of the poems and was the main draw to this book (for me).

Overall, there was a great selection of autho
Jun 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
The premise of The Death of the Hat is intriguing and challenging. Is it possible to give a brief history of poetry in 50 poems? And in 50 poems about things? What I noticed is that by limiting it to things--to objects--what you get is not 50 of the best poems ever written, but 50 poems that fit the criteria. I would have preferred 50 of the best poems ever OR 50 poems that are really good and still accessible to children. The spanning of the poems through the centuries is nice enough. And as I ...more
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Marvelous collection with wonderful watercolor illustrations. Is it suitable for children? I don't know and I don't care. One poem of many favorites:

In Praise of a Sword Given Him by His Prince
Colman mac Lenini
translated by Richard O'Connell

Blackbirds to a swan,
Feathers to hard iron,
Rock hags to a siren,
All lords to my lord;
Jackdaws to a hawk,
Cackling to a choir,
Sparks to a bonfire,
All swords to my sword.
Mary Lee
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
FABULOUS anthology of poetry from Early Middle Ages to Contemporary. Great choices. Accessible to kids. Wonderful illustrations.
I always like his anthologies, but I didn't love this one as much. I think he gave himself too hard of a job by making it a history of poetry that only includes poems about objects. He mentions in the intro that he had some trouble because early Western poets normally wrote about abstract things like philosophy and death, not objects--which you would think would be an indication that maybe this wasn't the best combination of themes! So the early poetry is mostly Eastern and then it suddenly swit ...more
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit, poetry
Another interesting project between the compiler and illustrator. Billy Collins’s “The Death of the Hat” steals the show along with Raschka’s cover, but it is far from alone. Raschka’s illustrations throughout are imaginative, evocative, and fanciful. For myself, I’m glad Janeczko was constrained by the boundaries of the project—read the Introduction. Raschka seems especially enchanted by geese, cats, clouds, and water. It is curious to find the book cataloged in our library in the juvenile sect ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very unusual collection of poetry meant to illustrate the history of this literary form. Paul Janeczko found poems about objects for younger readers to take them through the history of poetry starting with the early Middle Ages and progressing to contemporary poetry. Some of the "objects" are actually living things such as animals, plants and the weather. Some are clear and easy to understand, while others require stretching the mind. The illustrations by Chris Raschka are bright, lively and b ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
All ages poetry. The author presents a history of poetry by era - romantic, renaissance, modern, etc. - and by object. A good intro to classic and not-so-classic poetry, this volume is beautifully and simply illustrated by the watercolor art of Chris Raschka.
Elle Buffenbarger
The illustrations were amazing and the poems were well written as well but I would not want to read to my class in one sitting. I would recommend breaking this book down into sections or to read it over a period of time when working with children.
Kayla Leitschuh
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Death of the Hat takes you on a poetic journey from the Early Middle Ages until Contemporary times. I loved Chris Raschka's illustrations that accompanied the poems. A really cool book. ...more
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
This "children's book" is for children who are enrolled in an MFA program at college. Sheesh.

Lovely pictures, though.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
A little unusual, and some of the poems were familiar and some not so familiar, but nothing to get excited about.
Dec 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, picture-books
I am teetering back and forth between 3 and 4 stars. 4 for my personal enjoyment but 3 if I am considering it for children.

I liked the use 50 poems about 50 objects to give a history of poetry, of different periods. I liked the inclusion of a variety of poets, many famous but some lesser known poets. I liked the illustrations. And I liked many of the poems. Some I really liked. I, personally, enjoyed that while I was familiar with a number of the poets, almost all of the poems were
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, poetry, 2015
Paul B. Janeczko and Chris Raschka reunite for this anthology. I will begin by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of poetry. I loved the organization of the poems throughout time, beginning in the Early Middle Ages through today. Each of the 50 poems is written about an object, further uniting the poems in the collection.

The poetry caused me to reflect on life and the human experience. Because the poems spanned so many centuries, it was also interesting to read about how someone on
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was hard to read this without comparing it to BEASTLY VERSE, which I just read, since I really don't read a lot of poetry (basically, I read no poetry and just the occasional novel in verse). I loved the concept of a history of poetry geared toward children and told through fifty poems all about objects. The reality was good, but not quite what I was hoping for. I had a difficult time following the poetry's historical progression (despite reading Janeczko's introduction), so I'm not sure how ...more
Taylor Hartman
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Copyright: 2015
Number of pages: 77
Book format: print
Reading level: 3-7; GR level N/A
Genre: poetry
Lit requirement: anthology

The Death of a Hat is a book of collected poems collected by Paul B. Janeczko which cover a brief history of poetry in fifty objects. Each poem is completely different from the rest; the types and forms differ. There are haikus, poems that rhyme, free verse, etc.

The illustrations are colorful and spread out around the pages. Most of them cover double-spreads. I, however, rat
Aug 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult, cln
I read this book as part of the Chapter and Verse Book Club's discussion of possible Sibert Award-Winning books for 2015.

You have been forewarned... This review is going to be harsh. I will openly admit that poetry is not my thing, however, I can read and enjoy a good poem from time to time. But seriously, bleh! I thought this book was horrible and what I can't figure out is why an anthology of poetry would be a contender for a nonfiction award. I appreciate the difficulty that must lie in crea
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the previous poetry collaborations of Janeczko and Raschka. This one is an ambitious addition. As many have noted, this collection is probably for older kids than A Kick in the Head et al.- more middle school than elementary, and probably for those who are already interested in poetry (and not just Silverstein and Prelutsky). I enjoyed the poems, although I'm not enough of a poetry reader to comment on the selection. I love the illustrations; Raschka's impressionistic and abstra ...more
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
While the book is rather tad challenging and has many “difficult” subjects like death, chivalry, despair, romance, things young children wont understand, is hard to connect and enjoy I think it is rewarding to young readers exploring difficult subjects in life. It is broken into time periods, e.g early-late middle ages, Enlightenment, Gothic, Romantic, Victorian, Modern…so there is a nice history lesson, one sees how poetry progressed, from Medieval ages up to even Women poets/suffrage impacted ...more
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This poetry anthology gives examples of how poetry has changes over time. Paul Janezcko chose to use Western literary eras to divide the book, but he included poets from the Eastern hemisphere as well as the Western hemisphere. Readers will see some poems from famous poets (Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Robert Burns) and poems from diverse cultures (by Cui Tu, Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda). The introduction at the start of the book is worth a read as it explains the process of trying to sel ...more
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When we need it the most, winter sheds sleep yielding to spring. The cold slowly gives way to warmth. Snowfall is replaced with welcome rain showers. Spots of green appear in brown, leaf-coated gardens. Silence is filled with song.

So it is with National Poetry Month in April. We need this timely tribute to a body of literary verse regardless of the selected style. Having already committed to reading more poetry for several weeks, I find myself forming fresh descriptions of my daily sensory expe
Mar 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, stars-2015
This is not your typical anthology of poems for children. Janeczko chose poems based on two things - their place in the history of literature and the fact that they were about an object. This has lead to a group of 50 poems that don't seem to meld together and are not very child friendly. I don't think that kids always need to read "funny kid poetry" - in fact I try to help my students learn that there are many poets, not just Shel Silverstein - but I do think that poems need to be presented in ...more
First let me say that reading through this book was a pleasure. It's a fun concept that is an interesting and structured way to introduce younger readers to poetry. Lots of interesting new language, lots to talk about. The book starts with the early middle ages and works all the way up to contemporary poets. Chris Raschka's illustrations add a really lively element to these poems and are always so beautiful.

Second I should say that the lack of diversity in the poems is really stark. There are 8
Donna Nix
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Make that 2 1/2 stars if I'm feeling generous. I was more confused by this book than anything else. On the surface it says "picture book", but that is lost after page 1 of the introduction. I don't think children or early teens would "get" any but a handful of these poems. As another reviewer said, this is a good argument for the "poetry is boring" belief. The illustrations are good, the match of text to artwork is fair to ok, the text is for older teens and adults (if they can wade through it, ...more
Audrey's Picture Books
Putting a poem in a short book with large pages and colorful pictures does not make it a children's poem. The poems in this book are good poems and judiciously chosen--for adults. Most of them have no kid appeal at all, and the choice of some of them is downright baffling. The clearest example of this is a poem in which the poet uses the latest birthday card from a dying aunt as a springboard to a meditation on mortality and its physical manifestation in the card in question. I'm not one of thos ...more
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it
It was an interesting idea to compile 50 poems about 50 objects that would tell the history of poetry. As an anthology, many of the poems included would be unfamiliar to the average child at whom this book is aimed so it would certainly expose them to new ideas, forms and poets. As a picture book, the illustrations are acceptable but not overwhelmingly engaging. Some of the poems included would be difficult for adults to enjoy, let alone kids at whom this book is presumably aimed. I love poetry. ...more
In the words of Jess Mariano from the CW Tv Show, Gilmore Girls "I can’t get into poetry. It’s kind of like, geez, just say it already, we’re dying here."


I liked "The Death of a Hat poem" and the Cocoa one and the rest... well.. "Just say it already"
Just not my cup o tea. Would be a good resource if you had to pick one poem to memorize to study. Reading the whole thing...was grueling!! I like the some poetry and imaginary and good writing but I can just sit in a Jane Austen book, in a corner
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Paul B. Janeczko is a poet and teacher and has edited more than twenty award-winning poetry anthologies for young people, including STONE BENCH IN AN EMPTY PARK, LOOKING FOR YOUR NAME, SEEING THE BLUE BETWEEN, and A POKE IN THE I, which was an American Library Association Notable Book.

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