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Hailstones and Halibut Bones

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  830 Ratings  ·  110 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 1961)
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Rating details
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May 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
I hope to get the original Leonard Weisgard art. A reviewer who gave The Little Bookroom five stars mentioned this as another beloved touchstone of her childhood.
Ok, I was given the Wallner edition by Washoe. The pictures are lovely. But I can't rate the book. It reminds me of The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown. I should love both of them, but I actually despise them. Why?

Because they *decree.* "Content is gray, and sleepiness, too." Says who!? *I* say sleepiness is a warm brown, tbh
Nov 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks, poetry
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
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
Not the best poetry ever, but still good for getting children's imaginations going! I enjoyed the original illustrations by Leonard Weisgard, but I'm interested in reading the edition illustrated by John Wallner as well.
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry
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
Margaret Chind
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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

Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful sensory color poems. A classic.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was very good and I would feel the colors because of the perfect metaphors.
Billie Kelpin
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read one of these poems when I was in grade school and one line kept coming back to me through the years: ("It covers up, the run-down street, the broken cup". I never knew where the poem was from and searched on the web for years. Eventually google analytics became so good, that I found the name of the book through searching just those lines. The book focuses on each color and I just love the meaning it gives to each.
Stephanie Pieck
Hailstones and Halibut Bones was first published in 1961. It was one of the first Braille books I owned, and I read it so many times I probably had some portions of it memorized. It was a terrific way for me to explore colors without having to pester my parents or siblings with questions like: “What color is macaroni and cheese? … What color are flies? … If light can’t get out of black holes and we can’t see them, how do we know they’re black? … Is a robin red all over or only in some places?”)
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Molly Decker
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O'Neill. I found all of her color poems to be extremely descriptive, thoughtful, and soothing to read! Each poem is titled "What is _?" with a different color. She includes the colors purple, gold, black, brown, blue, gray, white, orange, red, pink, green, and yellow. Every poem is focused on a specific color and makes connections to the five senses.

I think Hailstones and Halibut Bones is a great poetry Read Aloud option for grades K-5. The fact that
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found this on my bookshelf last night - read it for the first time in 1961 or 1962. Enjoyed it again!
Oct 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Like acrobats on a high trapeze
The Colors pose and bend their knees
Twist and turn and leap and blend
Into shapes and feelings without end..."

So begins Mary O'Neill's lovely poetry book that goes far beyond most color concept books. The illustrate each color with far more than objects, but employs unusual images, emotions, and connections to all five senses as well as the more concrete, predictable choices, e.g., "Time is purple/Just before night," "Yellow's mother's name/is gold....""Black is a
Dharia Scarab

My love of reading started when i was young, and it gives me immense pleasure to provide books to Spread the Word Nevada, an organization that passes them on to children in the community. They are a terrific organization supporting an important cause. If your local I encourage you to check them out. For those living further a field, look in your own community, their may already be a similar program in place. And if not, you can always help start one.

Myself, I go ou
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: womack-3-5
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
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jfic
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
Caitlin E
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: week-7-poetry
This is one of my poetry picture books.

Hailstones and Halibut Bones isn't quite a picture book but it is one of my favorite compilations of poetry to read with young children. Each color is represented beautifully. I used this book with my second graders a few years ago but so enjoyed reading it again for this assignment.

Each color poem tells of things that the author is reminded of in regards to that particular color. I think this book is terrific for ELL students because it is vocabulary heavy
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-plays
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
Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Hailstones and Halibut Bones is both my favorite book, in the sense that it's one of my favorite works, and my favorite book, in the sense that the copy that I own is my favorite physical book that I own. I got it from my grandparents for Christmas in 1992. It has beautiful illustrations, and I've treasured it ever since.

But I digress. The book itself has a poem about each color. Every poem is fantastic. And every color is painted as something beautiful and interesting and multifaceted, even the
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Maddie Shell
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edrd-614
This book is an amazing book of poems about colors. It has similes, metaphors, and a plethora of other pieces of figurative language. Throughout the book, it brings vivid and metaphorical descriptions of a variety of different colors. As a teacher with my students, we read each book and looked for the literal lines versus the figurative lines. Then, we wrote color poems of our own. I think this book is a beautiful representation of a book of poems for children. It helps children think of colors ...more
Dec 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
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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...
“Think of what starlight
And lamplight would lack
Diamonds and fireflies
If they couldn’t lean against Black. . . .”
More quotes…