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Groundwood Books

Climbing Shadows

Poems for Children

Written by Shannon Bramer • Illustrated by Cindy Derby

For students in grades K | Published March 01, 2019 | ISBN 9781773060958

Cover of Climbing Shadows

Regular price $18.95 CAD

44 pages | 9.75 in × 8.125 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

Climbing Shadows

Poems for Children

Shannon Bramer • Cindy Derby

Educator's Guide ↓

A splendidly illustrated collection of poems inspired by young children that address common themes such as having a hard day at school, feeling shy or being a newcomer.

The poems in Climbing Shadows were inspired by a class of kindergarten children whom poet and playwright Shannon Bramer came to know over the course of a school year. She set out to write a poem for each child, sharing her love of poetry with them, and made an anthology of the poems for Valentine’s Day.

This original collection reflects the children’s joys and sorrows, worries and fears, moods and sense of humor. Some poems address common themes such as having a hard day at school, feeling shy or being a newcomer, while others explore subjects of fascination — bats, spiders, skeletons, octopuses, polka dots, racing cars and birthday parties. Evident throughout the book is a love of words and language and the idea that there are all kinds of poems and that they are for everyone — to read or write.

Cindy Derby’s dreamy watercolor illustrations gently complement each poem. Beautiful, thoughtful, sensitive and funny, this is an exceptional collection.

Key Text Features
table of contents
author’s note

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.

With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.

Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.

About the Creators

Shannon Bramer

Shannon Bramer is an author of poems, plays and short fiction. She has published a number of poetry collections and chapbooks, winning the Hamilton and Region Best Book Award for suitcases and other poems. Her most recent collection, Precious Energy, has also been highly acclaimed. Shannon’s plays include Chloe’s Tiny Heart Is Closed (for young audiences) and The Hungriest Woman in the World. She lives with her family in Toronto.

Cindy Derby

Cindy Derby is an author, illustrator and puppeteer. She has been a Grand Prize Winner of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Portfolio Award, and she has also been commissioned to create two original puppetry performances for festivals in the US and Scotland. Cindy has illustrated several picture books, including Climbing Shadows: Poems for Children (by Shannon Bramer), praised in Publishers Weekly for its “dreamlike paintings,” and she has written and illustrated How to Walk an Ant. She lives in San Francisco.

Awards and Praise

Praise for author Shannon Bramer and illustrator Cindy Derby for Climbing Shadows: 

“Smart. Honestly heartfelt. Utterly beautiful to look at. See the bar? Yeah. It just got raised.” — AFuse #8 Production Blog, School Library Journal

“Bramer’s poems … explore an evocative range of emotional states, metaphors, and ideas. Understated, dreamlike paintings with offsetting white space accompany the poems…. The works carry notes of wistfulness and wonder, astute observations, and poignant reflections on one’s place in the world.” — Publisher’s Weekly

“[A] marvelous introduction to poetry for young children.” — CM Reviews

“[Bramer] never talks down to kids or underestimates their ability to appreciate poetic ambiguity and strangeness paired with illustrations that are, themselves, poems. This book should be in every home and classroom, because you never know when you’re going to need a poem—like right now.” — Jilanne Hoffmann Blog

“[A] stunning book of poems for children …. Bramer’s evocative words are made even more memorable by the watercolours of San Francisco’s Cindy Derby…. Feelings abound in these verses, and it becomes very clear that even four- and five-year-olds live complicated lives.” — Postmedia

Praise for Shannon Bramer and Precious Energy:

“Bramer’s elegant lines crackle with real verve.” —Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press

“These poems are deadly serious and wildly whimsical, deeply domestic and linguistically fancy-free. They shine with a pathos so bright it gleams. I raced through the book and started again at the beginning. Highly recommended for poetry lovers and all human beings.” — Alison Pick, Open Book’s “Best of 2017”

Praise for Shannon Bramer and The Refrigerator Memory:

“Bramer proves that any subject, if handled skillfully, can be made into compelling poetry. She does this by balancing personal conviction and strong feeling with artistic precision and distance.” — Quill and Quire

  • Short-listed Rocky Mountain Book Award, 2021
  • Commended NCTE Notable Poetry Book and Verse Novel, 2020
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