Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices was written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Eric Beddows.  It was published by Harper Trophy in 1988.

I. Loved. This. Book. And I am so upset with myself that I just found out about it.  I feel as though my third grade students would have had so much fun with this poetry, working in pairs to express the poems in their own unique ways.  One thing I have realized through this class and blogging is that I didn't expand my students' worlds enough.  I was so bogged down in my first few years of teaching, ensuring that I covered everything that would be on the test, I didn't always have time to expose them to all of the other jewels out there.  I would have loved for them to read this, and so many other gems I have found this semester, but always felt fear that if someone walked into my room and I wasn't teaching something they would be tested on, I was going to get into trouble.  I can guarantee that when I go back to the classroom, there will be more time spent on books like Joyful Noise.

Joyful Noise, a Newbery Medal winner (1989), is a collection of poems, all written by Paul Fleischman.  All of his poems are from the perspective of a particular insect, and as it is supposed to be read by two readers at once, sometimes reading simultaneously and sometimes reading independently of each other, with each reader reading from top to bottom in their own column. As I read, it felt like the insects were having conversations with each other. I read some of the poems with my husband and some of them with two voices in my head.  It was definitely more fun to read them aloud with my husband and you could hear the back and forth of the conversation much better that way. 

The way Fleischman wrote each poem was very representational of the insect he was writing about.  I had two favorite poems -- Honeybees and Whiligig Beetles.  I felt that these two, in particular, made you get in to the mind frame of that insect.  In Honeybees, the first person is speaking from the perspective of a worker bee and the second from the perspective of a queen bee. What they have to say and the experience they are describing are completely different, and as someone listening to the poem, you would have to follow the back and forth of each reader to keep track of which bee was speaking.  In the poem, Whiligig Beetles, I felt as though it was a whirlwind experience.  With reader two repeating exactly what reader one read just ahead, it sounds a moving fan or a lot of bugs constantly moving around.  This poem reminded me of when I was a child and would sing songs in rounds on family trips with my mother and sister. 

 As I stated in one of my other posts, I like rhyming poetry the best, but these poems were very fun and purposeful for me. I am always looking at things through the eyes of a teacher, and the poems in Joyful Noise would have so many uses within the classroom. I would love to see groups of students acting the poems out, creating illustrations to go with each poem, writing their own two-voice poems, and using their problem solving and cooperation skills to ensure the poem is spoken in the correct way without getting mixed up with the two columns. I found a video of two girls from Pine City High School interpreting some of the poems from Joyful Noise.  They did both of my favorites, and it sounded exactly as I imagined! To check out their video, click Joyful Noise Youtube.  You won't regret it!


  1. We found the same video! Too funny! I felt like some of the poems wouldn't really work with my fourth graders. I think a lot of them will, but some of them were a little too advanced. What did you think?

  2. Ha ha! Great minds...

    I think they could work their way up to the harder poems. I'd love to see kids do the Whiligig Beetles!