This is a 2005 honor book for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:
Nye, Naomi Shihab, ed. 2004. Is This Forever, or What? Poems and Paintings from Texas. New York: Greenwillow.
Here is a Readers' Guide for IS THIS FOREVER, OR WHAT? created by graduate student Kimberli Fournier.
Recommended age levels – 10 and Up, Grades 5 and Up
This anthology includes 105 poems and 44 paintings chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye. The poets and artists chosen for this anthology are either currently living in Texas or have lived in Texas at one time. As Nye states in her introduction, “the poets and painters in this anthology represent the beautiful diversity, the multiplicity, of our state.” The poems included range from relationships and love, the diverse heritages of the people of Texas, the amazing landscapes, and even the weather. The paintings Nye has chosen are as beautiful and diverse as the poetry.
*Booklist starred review: “the poems include moving family tributes, furious self-revelations, and quiet, atmospheric vignettes that find grace and beauty in sun-baked neighborhoods, basic work, and everyday faces”
*School Library Journal review: “This collection is actually less about Texas than it is about place and voice, and how creative individuals who love their home and people can show strangers the beauty and oddity they see each day before them.”
*Kirkus review: “This sumptuously designed gathering of poetry and paintings from 140 Texans (or former Texans) will lead readers not so much to that state specifically, as to a state of mind”
*ALA Notable Children’s Book
*New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age
*Texas Library Association High School Reading List
Questions to ask before reading
Invite students to discuss the following questions before reading:
*Do you know how large the State of Texas is?
*Have you ever traveled in Texas? What towns have you visited? How did you get there? What did you notice about that area of Texas compared to your hometown?
*Have your parents or family members told you stories about their life when and where they grew up?
*When you think of Texas, what do you think the poems in the book might be about?
Suggestions for reading poems aloud
*Use “Three Minutes a Day” to read aloud poems to students as there are over 100 poems in this book.
*“to a brown spider: en el cielo/a una araña sepia: en el cielo” – Invite students to participate in call and response for the poem, reading each line in Spanish and having students repeat the line in English.
*”something” – Invite students to read each stanza’s beginning line (“I look to you”) as a repeated refrain. The poem “Black-Eyed Susans” also has repeated lines (“Me” and “Them”).
*”The Ice-Cream Man” and “Strike Zone” – Invite students to read these two poems in unison.
*”an excerpt from CON FLAMA” – Invite students who are comfortable volunteering to practice and read aloud this performance piece.
*Many poems in this book lend themselves to group readings. Invite students to divide into multiple groups and read multiple stanzas. Some poems that will work for this are “Drive Friendly,” “Climbing the Caprock,” Avocado Avenue,” and “Bagpiper in the Park.”
Follow up activities
One of the artists featured in the book, Marcy McChesney, creates mixed media collages. Have students create their own collages using magazine clippings and other items collected from home.
Collaborate with art teacher to introduce students to the work of Georgia O’Keefe using the poem “Georgia O’Keeffe Remembers Texas.”
Have each student write a poem about Texas (landscapes, weather, families, etc.). Publish a special anthology of students’ poems. Retrieved from http://www.poets.org.
Relate math/science lesson regarding animal populations and how they multiply. Retrieved from http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/kids/about_texas/.
Discuss the different geographical regions of Texas and the unique qualities of each region.
*PBS Poetry Everywhere website
[Watch video of Naomi Shihab Nye reading her poem "One Boy Told Me" at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.]
*Academy of American Poets
[Look here for biography of Naomi Shihab Nye and Tips for Teaching Poetry.]
[Look here for an interview with Naomi Shihab Nye.]
[Look here for information on the geography of the State of Texas.]
*Texas Parks and Wildlife
[Look here for information about Texas, including lesson plans and activities.]
*Other poetry books with poems selected by Nye
Meinzer, Wyman. 2006. Between Heaven and Texas. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN0292706553
Nye, Naomi Shihab. 1992. This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from around the World. New York: Four Winds Press. ISBN 0689806302
*Other poetry books about Texas
Hill, Billy Bob. 2007. A Students’ Treasury of Texas Poetry. College Station: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 0875653537
McDonald, Walter. 1992. All That Matters: The Texas Plains in Photographs and Poems. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 089722910
McDonald, Walter. 2003. Great Lonely Places of the Texas Plains. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 0896725065
Holt, Kimberly Willis. 2001. Dancing in Cadillac Light. Bergenfield: Penguin Group USA. ISBN0399234020
Kelly, Jacqueline. 2009. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. New York: Henry Holt &Co. ISBN0805088415
Sachar, Louis. 2000. Holes. Westminster: Random House. ISBN0440414806
Sasek, M. 2006. This is Texas. Westminster: Random House. ISBN0789313898
Wade, Mary Dodson. 2008. All Around Texas: Regions and Resources. Mankato: Heinemann/Raintree. ISBN1432911503