Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Most Poetic Passages from Children's Literature

The most poetic passages are now posted here.

You can still submit your passage from children's literature with the most poetic use of language in the comments to this post.


Erin said...

"I love it [writing] that as a writer you work with the poetry and music of words. Words are as wild as rocky peaks. They're as smooth as a millpond and as sunny as a day in a meadow. Words are beautiful things. Every word matters."

~The Wand in the Word by Leonard S. Marcus

.....the simple little words came easily, fitting themselves to the tune that had come out of the harpsichord. It didn't seem to her that she made them up at all. It seemed to her that they flew in from the rose-garden, through the open window, like a lot of butterflies, poised themselves on the point of her pen, and fell off it on to the paper.
-The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

featherbee said...

The "Avenue," so called by the Newbridge people, was a stretch of road four or five hundred yards long, completely arched over with huge, wide-spreading apple-trees, planted years ago by an eccentric old farmer. Overhead was one long canopy of snowy fragrant bloom. Below the boughs the air was full of a purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle.

Again, from Anne of Green Gables.

Little Willow said...

BODY BAGS by Christopher Golden

It was a beautiful day to grow up.

Little Willow said...

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

She did not produce it easily, but when it came, she had a starving smile. - Page 31

After all, the guilt was already there. It was moist. The seed was already bursting into a dark-leafed flower. - Page 285

Words and sunlight. That's how she remembered it. The light sparkling on the road and the words like waves, breaking on her back. - Page 394

They'd been standing like that for thirty seconds of forever. - Page 396

Now it was only noise and girl and wiry woman. - Page 485

Little Willow said...

But maybe supposed to be was what was wrong. Maybe supposed to be was like a child's drawing of a night sky -- stars all aligned, a yellow moon -- simple and pretty and nothing to do with reality. - WILD ROSES by Deb Caletti

But because our words are clicking into each other to form sentences and our sentences are clicking together to form a dialogue and our dialogue is clicking together to form this scene from this ongoing movie that's as comfortable as it is unrehearsed. - NICK & NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

The shuddering little pool of light that traveled just ahead of her had started out pretty dim, and it was fading out like Tinkerbell full of poisoned cake. - Midnighters: Touching Darkness by Scott Westerfeld, Page 194

She might be half-magic, but she was also half glass. - Where I Want to Be by Adele Griffin

Dreams grabbed at the corner of my eyes but still wouldn't come fully. - Mermaid Park by Beth Mayall, Page 247

That's the trouble with loving a wild thing. You're always left watching the door. (Paragraph break) But you also get kind of used to it. - East by Edith Pattou, Page 12

She was just another person floating down the river of life who had grabbed on to a spar and was hanging on - hanging on because she dared not let go. Like everyone else here, she lacked the strength to swim. - Poison by Chris Wooding, Page 11

She's a body made to move, made for motion. Stillness? No. Never. - All Rivers Flow to the Sea by Alison McGhee, Page 26

. . . But when a house is empty, then it's the house's turn. It holds all the emptiness and all the fullness of the years it has known, the footprints of all the people who have ever walked its rooms gather themselves. The air is expectant, waiting. Hushed. Hush. Listen to the house. What is it telling you? - All Rivers Flow to the Sea by Alison McGhee, Page 115

It was dark outside, and the fireflies twinkled gold against the asphalt. When I was little I'd thought fireflies were fairies. I thought if I caught one and held on to it long enough, it would turn into Tinker Bell and make me fly. - Anyone But You by Lara M. Zeises, Page 242

She was so light, but her emotions were heavy. - The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan, Page 124

Erin said...

"Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?...As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells...and then when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you, like a pressed flower... both strange and familiar."
~Inkspell by Cornelia Funke

Elaine Magliaro said...

From TUCK EVERLASTING by Natalie Babbitt. This excerpt comes from the first paragraph of the prologue:

"The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone..."

That's about as poetic as prose can get.

Erin said...

The morning was enough to make anyone feel joyous. The tawny grass was still crisp and sparkling with frost under the pony’s flying feet, and overhead the swelling buds on the trees, just catching the rising sun, were ruby red against a sky of sheeted gold. The air was like wine, warm and yet still laced with the sharp tang of the frost.
~The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

“It is raining tonight and it sounds like fairies feet dancing over the garret roof.”
~Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery

“I shall always think of the wind as a personality. She is a shrew when she blows from the north — a lonely seeker when she blows from the east — a laughing girl when she comes from the west — and tonight from the south a little grey fairy.”
~Emily Climbs by L. M. Montgomery

The peaks and valleys of the mermaids’ city, which had seemed uniformly aquamarine at a distance, were up close covered in great rolling fields of luminescent blue-green seaweed, but sprinkled and swirled liberally throughout were dots of pink and purple, spirals of yellow and orange, bursts of red, muted brown-orange patches, dribbles of emerald teardrops, and clouds of translucent white pearliness.
~Drift House: The First Voyage by Dale Peck

The sky was a ragged blaze of red and pink and orange, and its double trembled on the surface of the pond like color spilled from a paintbox. The sun was dropping far now, a soft red sliding egg yolk, and already to the east there was a darkening purple.
~Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Jen Robinson said...

"Every childhood seems to have such a juvenile in its midst and mists" - Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Nancy said...

Thanks Jen!

Elaine Magliaro said...

From THIS PLACE IN THE SNOW by Rebecca Bond:

"A silent snow fell all night long. It lay like lace along the trees. It hatted the houses. It capsuled the cars in thick and sticky white. A lumbering plow came rumbling, rattling, pushing up hillsides, up mountains, up snow, rolling and rounding it, mounding it high in creamy waves of white."

From ONE TINY TURTLE by Nicola Davies:

"Far, far out to sea, land is only a memory, and empty sky touches water. Just beneath the surface is a tangle of weed and driftwood where tiny creatures cling."

From THE BAT-POET by Randall Jarrell:

"A bat is born
Naked and blind and pale.
His mother makes a pocket of her tail
And catches him. He clings to her long fur
By his thumbs and toes and teeth.
And then the mother dances through the night
Doubling and looping, soaring, somersaulting--
Her baby hangs on underneath..."

From THE YEAR OF THE DOG by Grace Lin:

"In the dining room, there was so much food. There was a whole fried fish--crispy and brown, meat dumplings fried golden, vegetables shining with oil, steamed buns that looked like puffy clouds, shrimp in a milky sauce, and pork colored a brilliant ruby pink."

From BAT LOVES THE NIGHT by Nicola Davies:

"Her beady eyes open. Her pixie ears twitch. She shakes her thistledown fur. She unfurls her wings, made of skin so fine the finger bones inside show through.
Now she unhooks her toes and drops into black space. With a sound like a tiny umbrella opening, she flaps her wings."

From DANCERS IN THE GARDEN by Joanne Ryder:

"In the chilly morning,
soft fog paints the garden gray.
Pink petals drift from the trees, and leaves dangle, damp with dew."

"Gently the warm sun touches the sleeping bird, till he stirs, stretching his wings like a small dark fan and flies into the brightness."

"Dancing in the brightness,
hummingbird dips down
where silken webs dangle,
trapping tiny flowers."

Erin said...

That done, they howled at a rising crescent moon that was thin as a fingernail clipping, orange as a pumpkin headed for pie.
~Horns and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson

(I saw a moon exactly like that once.)

Sherry said...

“It was the longest day: mindlessly hot, unspeakably hot, too hot to move or even think. The countryside, the village of Treegap, the wood - all lay defeated. Nothing stirred. The sun was a ponderous circle without edges, a roar without a sound, a blazing glare so thorough and remorseless that even in the Foster’s parlor, with curtains drawn, it seemed an actual presence. You could not shut it out.”
~Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

“He wandered back and forth from Grandma to his father. Penny sat sunken quiet in a padded chair in the front room. Shadows lay over him and absorbed him. There was not here the excitement of a visit to the Forresters. There was instead a snugness that covered him like a warm quilt in winter.”
~The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Elaine Magliaro said...

From TWILIGHT COMES TWICE by Ralph Fletcher:

"Slowly dusk pours the syrup of darkness into the forest."

"With invisible arms dawn erases the stars fom the blackboard of night."

From THE SEASHORE BOOK by Charlotte Zolotow:

"It's early morning at the seashore and it's hard to tell where the sea stops and the sky begins.
They are the same smoky gray until the mist shifts from gray to dark white, from dark white to pale purple, from pale purple to hazy blue, and then suddenly, the sun breaks through!"

From SPRING THAW by Steven Schnur:

"The sun climbs high into the blue sky. By mid-morning a thousand tiny streams run from the roof like a curtain of crystal beads."


"In the beginning, there was nothing but darkness and water that lay cold and still as black marble. Nothing moved in the inky silence."


"And when the cool autumn winds would come puff-puffing through the clouds, and the hold-on-tight leaves would finally let go and float-flutter to the ground, out we'd go into the eye-blinking blue air, with Mama leading in a leaf-kicking
hello autumn ballet."

Erin said...

The last drops of the thundershower had hardly ceased falling when the Pedestrian stuffed his map into his pocket, settled his pack more comfortably on his tired shoulders, and stepped out from the shelter of a large chestnut-tree into the middle of the road. A violent yellow sunset was pouring through a rift in the clouds to westward, but straight ahead over the hills the sky was the colour of dark slate. Every tree and blade of grass was dripping, and the road shone like a river . . .

~Out of the Silent Planet
By C.S. Lewis

Little Willow said...

This was how we'd always played.
You were Cinderella, I was a mouse.
You were Alice, I was the Hatter.
You were the sun, and I wasn't even the moon.
- The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan, Page 146

You think you know your possibilities.
Then other people come into your life.
And suddenly there are so many more.
- The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan, Page 207

Little Willow said...


The girl let the braid drop back with a sigh that seemed to
come from her very toes and to exhale forth all the sorrows
of the ages.

"Yes, it's red," she said resignedly. "Now you see why I
can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who has red hair. I
don't mind the other things so much--the freckles and the
green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I
can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and
lovely starry violet eyes. But I CANNOT imagine that red
hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, `Now my hair
is a glorious black, black as the raven's wing.' But all
the time I KNOW it is just plain red and it breaks my heart.
It will be my lifelong sorrow. I read of a girl once in a
novel who had a lifelong sorrow but it wasn't red hair.
Her hair was pure gold rippling back from her alabaster brow.
What is an alabaster brow? I never could find out.
Can you tell me?"


There was a freshness in the air
as of a wind that had blown over honey-sweet fields of clover.
Home lights twinkled out here and there among the homestead
trees. Beyond lay the sea, misty and purple, with its
haunting, unceasing murmur. The west was a glory of soft
mingled hues, and the pond reflected them all in still
softer shadings. The beauty of it all thrilled Anne's heart,
and she gratefully opened the gates of her soul to it.

Little Willow said...

" . . . a sweet, wicked smile, full of mischief and hope." - Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman, Page 88

Little Willow said...

In the end, I'm just a girl on a sleeping bag in the middle of nowhere, at the starting line of every mistake she'll ever make. - The Geography of Girlhood by Kirsten Smith, Page 123

Elaine Magliaro said...

From THE GIFT OF THE TREE by Alvin Tresselt:

"Tucked under its gnarled roots, small creatures found safety from the fox and owl. Slowly, slowly, over the years the forest soil increased as the brown, leathery leaves, shaken down by autumn winds, moldered under the snow."

"On the trunk where the tree lay half buried in the damp and musty leaf loam, the mosses stitched a green carpet, softer than the softest wool. Fragile ferns nestled in its shadow, mushrooms popped out of the decaying mold, and clumps of creamy white Indian pipes clustered together, drawing nourishment from the rich loam."

Little Willow said...

Stay With Me by Garret Freymann-Weyr:

I arrived when Rebecca's life was more than half over, and my share of what she leaves behind is therefore small. Just big enough to carry. - Page 15

We will not just do everything wrong. We will need entirely new verbs. - Page 24

Elaine Magliaro said...

From STEP INTO THE NIGHT by Joanne Ryder:

"When the sun hides behind dark rooftops, you can step outside and see the night begin.
All around you, grayness is creeping,
darkening the wood fence,
darkening the green bushes, darkening the tall roosting tree."

"A chunk of moon shines above the treetops. One tiny light peeks through the evening sky and flickers brightly far, far away."

"Clouds capture the chunk of moon, but it escapes for a moment. The moonlight reveals a patch of lace across an empty space. You move closer and watch a fat body with so many legs climbing in circles around and around a pale silken web."

Elaine Magliaro said...

From UNDER YOUR FEET by Joanne Ryder:

"White petals float down like late spring snow on a thick green carpet. Someone new peeks out from a dark tunnel into the sun. A young woodchuck with tiny bright eyes watches new things--shadows flickering; petals drifting down, you, passing by."

"Like chilly mornings, fall apples taste sharp and cool. Your fingers slide around the smooth bright ball. Your tongue tingles with the juicy taste of fall."

"One gray day you can hear autumn honking across the sky. You see winter rising from chimneys in dark gray puffs. Now the world seems quiet, everyone seems far away but you."