According to Wikipedia, verse narratives are as old as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and the Odyssey, but the verse novel is a distinctly modern form. Don & Sarah are back with recommended titles that read with a poetic rhythm. Verse novels have given reluctant and vivacious readers a new reason to turn the page.
Beowulf by Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney’s best-selling — Beowulf— is now wedded to more than one hundred glorious images.
Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel’s mother. Drawn to what he has called the “four-squareness of the utterance” in — Beowulf –and its immense emotional credibility Seamus Heaney gives the great epic convincing reality.
The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer
Homer is the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey, the two greatest Greek epic poems. Nothing is known about Homer personally; it is not even known for certain whether there is only one true author of these two works. Homer is thought to have been an Ionian from the 9th or 8th century B.C. While historians argue over the man, his impact on literature, history, and philosophy is so significant as to be almost immeasurable
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
New York Times bestseller and Newbery Honor Book! A gorgeously written, hopeful middle-grade novel in verse about a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the United States, perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Aisha Saeed.
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing as the initiated convince L.A.’s down and out to join their pack. Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kind-hearted, besotted dogcatcher, and the girl he loves, a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack.
The Marlowe Papers: A Novel by Ros Barber
You’re the author of the greatest plays of all time.
But nobody knows.
And if it gets out, you’re dead.
On May 30, 1593, a celebrated young playwright was killed in a tavern brawl in London. That, at least, was the official version. Now Christopher Marlowe reveals the truth: that his “death” was an elaborate ruse to avoid a conviction of heresy; that he was spirited across the English Channel to live on in lonely exile; that he continued to write plays and poetry, hiding behind the name of a colorless man from Stratford–one William Shakespeare.
Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
An inspiring and empowering story of strength and persistence in the aftermath of sexual assault based on the life of the seventeenth-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi.
Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice- a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father’s paint.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
A New York Times BestsellerA Newbery Medal WinnerA Coretta Scott King Honor Award WinnerA Publishers Weekly Best BookA School Library Journal Best BookAn ALA Best Book”The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh. He and twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. Josh has basketball in his blood, but he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse.
Omeros by Derek Walcott
A poem in five books, of circular narrative design, titled with the Greek name for Homer, which simultaneously charts two currents of history: the visible history charted in events — the tribal losses of the American Indian, the tragedy of African enslavement — and the interior, unwritten epic fashioned from the suffering of the individual in exile.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Stonewall Book Award Winner (A Time Magazine Best YA Book Of All Time)
A fierce coming-of-age verse novel about identity and the power of drag, from acclaimed poet and performer Dean Atta. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, and Kacen Callender.
Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican–but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.