Fold Me a Poem
Author: Kristine O'Connell George
Illustrator: Lauren Stringer
Pages: 56
Publisher/Date: Harcourt/April, 2005
ISBN: 0152025014
Age Levels: 5 and up

Book Review

Fold Me a Poem is a wonderful example of a book being more than the sum of its parts. Inside the covers of this stunning creation, the poems and illustrations meld to create a picture book that is both inspiring and entertaining.

Each of George’s short poems is exquisitely illustrated with an acrylic painting depicting a young boy among his origami creations. In “Spring,” for example, we read:

At last
my tulips
paper crowns.

And thus we see—surrounding the large, black print—patterned and boldly colorful origami tulips.

While a few of the poems are about possibilities, the majority concern themselves with animals. A double-page spread shows a large yellow table festooned with rabbits at one end and foxes at the other. In between the boy has placed blocks (for the rabbits’ protection). On another page, the pink ostrich receives no such protection and is attacked by the boy’s cat. “Glue? Staple? Tape? Band-Aid?” The boy tries to decide how best to make repairs.

Midway through the book we find the large, green dragon on a rampage—having knocked down the other animals—and must be reined in. Later on, we see a herd of colorful cows hungrily “eyeing the green paper. Oh. Grass!”

As the young boy prepares for bed, he hangs his own origami star against the darkening sky. Soon he hears "rustling/ soft/ papery/ whisper-thumps. / Is someone dancing?" It appears so: the penguin and the ostrich (now sporting band-aids) move toward one another.

The book includes a list of suggested books on making origami.

Classroom Uses: We took this book into two classrooms. The first was a second-grade, special-education classroom. When we finished reading the book, the students, of course, wanted to make their own origami creations. We had prepared paper so the students could create origami dogs. (You will find the instructions in a wonderful downloadable teacher's guide on the illustrator's website.) The students then wrote haiku poems about their animals.

On another occasion we brought the book into a seventh-grade language arts classroom. The students were in the middle of a script writing unit. Again, taking a lesson from the teacher's guide, we had the students write a script using the origami animals they had created as characters.

Our only suggestion is that you have plenty of origami paper and a set of instructions ready when you read this.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2005 Education Oasis

About the Author

Kristine O'Connell George is an acclaimed poet whose many books include The Great Frog Race and Other Poems, and Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems. She lives in Agoura, California. Be sure to visit the author's website.

About the Illustrator

Lauren Stringer is a celebrated painter who has illustrated such favorites as Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters, Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs by Linda Ashman, and Mud by Mary Lyn Ray. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband, two children, and three cats.


Be sure to visit the illustrator's website for a teacher's guide. Amazingly, Ms. Stringer had never folded origami before illustrating Fold Me a Poem. Here is a quote from her site that gives a bit of insight into the research required for the book:

"Since finishing Fold Me a Poem, I can fold all kinds of animals out of paper, but when I first read Kristine O'Connell George's poems I had never folded origami. After months of making my way through piles of library books on origami and teaching myself to fold all of the animals mentioned in the poems, I learned to love folding. Even my kids love folding!"

There are thousands of origami sites on the Internet. One of our favorites is Oriland.