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Awards & Honors

BookSpeak! Poems About Books

Written by Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
Publisher: Clarion Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-0547223001 32 pages


21 wild, wacky, and winsome poems celebrate books and even let them tell their own stories. Characters plead for sequels, book jackets strut their stuff, and a raucous party starts when the lights go out at the bookstore! If you’re a book lover, don’t miss this love letter to books and stories, written in many poetic forms.
Book Plate

I don’t need your napkin.
I’m not your soup bowl’s mate.
I don’t want your peas or bread.

I’m not that kind of plate!

Write your name upon me.
I’m a paper love tattoo.
Paste me in your book to show

that I belong to you.

Journal Reviews

…there’s an inviting mix of forms from free verse to acrostic to rhyming, and the verses are clever in their approach and concept...
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The poems are, by turns, philosophical, humorous, and even instructional…This is an appealing offering that will be especially popular with librarians.
—School Library Journal
Salas’s polished verse demonstrates a deep love for all aspects of books...and she’s not above using a touch of guilt to get her audience invested: “If a book remains unopened/ and no reader turns its page,/ does it still embrace a story/ or trap words inside a cage?”
—Publishers Weekly
With its mix of poetic forms and wry twists on language-arts terms, this is a natural choice for sharing in classrooms and young writers’ workshops.
It is rare that we get into the "head" of a book, but that is what we get in this fun and often endearing picture book focused on everything from the cover of a book and why it's appealing to the characters calling out for someone to join them in the fun of their book.
Falling in love with your first book is the beginning of a lifelong romance, a feeling that Minneapolis writer Laura Purdie Salas captures beautifully in this inventive collection of poems perfect for kids who have already worn out their first library cards.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune

Reader Reactions

Can we declare an official book for the Nerdy Book Club, please? If we did, it would be BookSpeak! a delightful and smart poetry collection reveling in all things bookish from readers and writers to literary elements.

—Nerdy Book Club

In our classrooms, we grow readers and writers. Here is a book with a poem for nearly every occasion in your reading/writing workshops!

—Mary Lee Hahn, A Year of Reading

[T]he poem Vacation Time! would be a great one to get kids excited about summer reading. A library is simply not complete without BookSpeak!

—Mrs. T's Recent Reads

One of my favorite poems is The Middle's Lament: A Poem for Three Voices. The conversation between The Middle, The Beginning and The End is funny with a capital F.

—Librarian's Quest

From the lyrical "Skywriting" to the clever personification of “Index,” the poems flow from beginning to end, providing helpful models that young writers may enjoy exploring and imitating...BookSpeak! is a book of book poems that readers of all ages will return to again and again.  

—Cybils Awards

Poetry Prompts: What part of a book haven’t we heard from? Students can write their own mask poems giving voice to other book components, e.g., setting, the author's bio, or the title page. Or just the book itself—what does each student think a book will say? They might even give voices to specific books like Charlotte’s Web, The Lightning Thief, or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If those books could talk about themselves, what would they say?

—Book Aunt

I can't imagine any library not owning this ode to books. Actually, I can't imagine any parent who loves books and reading not having this in their home to share with their children! It's just that awesome.

—Plant a Seed

“This is the Book” is a perfect poem for a group recitation. Have each reader take a stanza. Then read the poem together, each reading in his or her turn. You can even use simple props to represent each person involved in the writing and publishing process. For example, the writer could have a typewriter, the illustrator could have some art supplies, and the reader could have a finished book.

—The Cutest Blog on the Block

Students - I think you could write wonderful poems using "This is the Book" as a model. Try this.

Pick a process, like a seed growing into a plant. Then think about all of the different things that are needed to make that happen, like seed, soil, sun, etc. Start with a stanza describing the seed. Then give each item its own stanza where you capture what its most important contribution is. Don't worry about rhyming. Just pick the strongest, most wonderful words you can. Then end with the plant, the result of everyone's else's efforts.

You could do this with so many things. Maybe you want to write a poem in tribute to your peanut butter sandwich! You could applaud the farmers who grow the wheat for the bread. And the peanut plant. And the grocery store stock boy. And your dad for making the sandwich. The possibilities are endless!

—Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, The Poem Farm

...the rhyme, rhythm, and voice of each poem told from the point of view of a book will not only will this inspire children to read THIS book, but will inspire them to read period.

—Sylvia Vardell, Poetry for Children

This book is exquisite in both poem and picture and celebrates the beauty of our language!

—Meridian Magazine

Downloadable Activities

Reading Guide
Parts of a Book

Photo Gallery

license plate
Minnesota Book Award
Gareth Bentall's art shares lines from a poem by Laura Purdie Salas, "Written in Snow."

More for Educators or Writers

How this Book Got Started

I was invited to submit some poems for an anthology of poems about books. I was heartbroken when not one of my many poems was accepted for that wonderful anthology! Luckily, my editor at Clarion loved them and decided they would make a great book of their own.

Poems I've Written

These poems connect to this book in topic, theme, or form—great for text-to-text connections!


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