Ways of Composing by Eve Merriam

Ways of Composing

a mouthful of teeth chattering
afraid to be quiet

a pencil can lie down and dream
dark silver silences

Eve Merriam

Included in the book:
 Poem in Your Pocket for Young Poets: 100 Poems to Rip Out and Read

painting by Christopher Stott


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, 320 pp, RL: TEEN


Before I dive into the review, I need to applaud Harriet Russell for the cover illustration on Eleanor & Park, designed and art directed by Olga Grlic at St. Martin's Press. It is elegant, distinctive and captures the essence of the characters in the novel in ways that so few covers do. As Rainbow Rowell says about the process of creating the cover art here, "Eleanor would totally read this book."

Everything about Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell feels real and immediate, painfully and achingly so. While I managed to spread the experience of reading this breathtaking book out over the course of three weeks (this IS the kind of book you don't want to end, both because it's so good you want it to last forever but also because you know that it will make you cry) I could have easily read it in one sitting. John Green's succinct, praise filled review of Eleanor & Park in New York Times Book Review is impressive coming from someone who, judging by his superb books and enthusiastic fan base, clearly remembers and understands adolescence and knows how to write about it in a way that has appeal beyond his targeted audience. Of the book he writes, "There’s bullying, sibling rivalry, salvation through music and comics, a monstrous stepparent — and I know, we’ve seen all this stuff. But you’ve never seen Eleanor & Park. Its observational precision and richness make for very special reading. Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book." Coming from Green, this should be enough to make you run out (or run to your nearest bookselling website) and buy Eleanor & Park right now. However, as someone who was a senior in high school in 1986 and a transplant at the start of my sophomore year from the city to the sticks where no one had even heard of Duran Duran or R.E.M., let alone Joy Division, XTC or Prefab Sprout, as well as someone who did not have the body shape, coloring or wardrobe of the popular blond cheerleaders, Eleanor & Park hit me hard. If you want to hear me blather on about this book and how amazing it is to read the thoughts, fears and worries of a protagonist who does not wear a size 4 or even a size 10 and the electrical vividness with which Rowell captures the wonderment of a first, intense attraction, read on! Otherwise, really, just buy this book now.

Set in Omaha, Nebraska, the story starts at the beginning of sophomore year for Eleanor and Park and the point of view alternates between these two outsiders. At sixteen, Eleanor is "already built like she ran a medieval pub." She is "big and awkward. With crazy hair, bright red on top of curly. And she was dressed like . . . like she wanted people to look at her. Or maybe she didn't get what a mess she was. She had on a plaid shirt, a man's shirt, with half a dozen weird necklaces hanging around her neck and scarves wrapped around her wrists." Park is into alternative music, long before it was ever called that. He helps his Korean mother (his parents met while his dad was stationed there) out with her garage-based beauty salon, letting her try out make-up on him. Park definitely likes girls, but he is just different enough in his interests and appearance in this white bread town at a time when Bon Jovi and spiral perms were popular that he questions his identity. Eleanor and Park's relationship begins on the school bus with frustration and indifference and grows into that thrilling, charged relationship that happens at an age when you are just starting to have musical and literary tastes (that you think define who you are) and you meet someone who shares your interests. Eleanor "eavesreads" comic books (Watchmen, X-Men) over Park's shoulder on the bus. He notices and begins to slow his pace and measure his page turns to keep pace with Eleanor. Eventually, he brings her a stack of comic books to borrow. Then he notices the band names she has written on the jackets of her textbooks and they begin to talk about music. I guess part of what makes the evolving relationship between Eleanor and Park so charged and exciting is that it happened during a time when there were still new things to be discovered and the internet didn't inform us of all creative (and not-so-creative) endeavors instantly. You had to go to the record store, buy the record, then make a tape recording of it if you wanted to share your music with someone. You couldn't just go to YouTube and find almost anything ever recorded and listen to it for free. You had to read magazines to learn about the bands you like, and sometimes those magazines had to be imported from the UK.

Park shares music with Eleanor, even though she declines because, while she has a Walkman, she doesn't have the money to buy batteries for it. Eleanor, the oldest of five children, is so poor that she thinks about asking her school counselor to buy her a toothbrush. But she's not just cash poor, she isn't free to truly exist in her own home. Her stepfather kicked her out a year ago and he has just allowed her to return but he is always watching her. Violent and often drunk, he makes her mother's life a nightmare and Eleanor goes out of her way to avoid him. If she doesn't have anything then he can't take anything from her. But, she works with the meager belonging she carries back home in a grapefruit box and the garbage bag of possessions that she left behind a year ago and her mother was able to hang on to for her. She stands out because of her size and fair skin and red hair anyway. Thinking about the way Eleanor dresses and does her hair Park realizes that Eleanor tried so hard to look different "because she was different - because she wasn't afraid to be. (Or maybe she was just more afraid of being like everyone else.)" It is her poverty, her controlling, out of control stepfather, her fear of him and her differentness that keep her guarded and continually surprised by Park's attraction to and affection for her. And, it is this (as well as the time before internet and cell phones) that allows their relationship to unfold slowly and gratifyingly over the course of the novel. Rowell takes up two pages of back and forth inside Park and Eleanor's heads describing the first time they hold hands on page 72. Park thinks, "Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive." Eleanor disintegrated and later wondered of the place where Park rubbed her palm with his thumb, "how could it be possible that there were so many nerve endings all in one place? And were they always there, or did they just flip on whenever they felt like it? Because, if they were always there, how did she manage to turn a doorknob without fainting?"

The dual point of view also allows for stunning moments that remind you that you can never truly, completely know anyone and that how miserably we sometimes fail to express and communicate the thoughts going on inside of us. When Eleanor finds her clothes clogging the toilet in the girl's locker room after gym class, she is forced to walk the hallways to her counselor's office in her gym suit. Not only is it ugly, "Polyester. One-piece. Red and White stripes with an extra-long white zipper," it is too small. It just clears her underwear and the fabric is stretched so tight across her chest, "the seams were starting to pop under her arms." Already mortified, Eleanor is then humiliated when Park sees her and his face turns red. Eleanor assumes he is embarrassed for her, repulsed by her body, which is usually covered in layers of clothes. Instead, Park is entranced. He can't stop thinking about her ("Why hadn't he expected her to be so grown up? To have so much negative space? He closed his eyes and saw here again. A stack of freckled heart shapes, a perfectly made Dairy Queen ice cream cone. Like Betty Boop drawn with a heavy hand.") and he knows he can never look at her again without thinking about that long, white zipper. Eleanor and Park have almost no time or place to be alone and their first and only real make-out session comes near the end of the book. Rowell describes these moments meaningfully and discreetly and captures the "first-ness" of it all. And maybe (one of) the reason I read Eleanor & Park so slowly is because Rowell lets the reader know right from the start in the prologue that these two don't have long together. Despite this, the end is still hard to take, but Rowell wraps it up in a way that makes sense for her story and her characters. And in a way that makes you reflect and think. For me, there was a fair amount of nostalgia involved in reading and processing Eleanor & Park. I would love to hear what any teenagers today think about it. Eleanor and Park are not quirky like John Green's characters. They aren't edgy and knowing like Nick and Norah or urban like Dash and Lily. And, while Eleanor and Park develop their relationship over the course of the book like Etienne and Anna in Anna and the French Kiss, they are are in Omaha and not at a boarding school for wealthy American kids in Paris. With the setting and the time, Rowell has stripped away the niceties that make YA romances often read like fantasies rather than the reality based fiction they are intended to be, leaving behind something that is raw and painful but real. Like John Green said so well, Eleanor & Park will remind you what it's like to be young and in love with a book (if you are not young...)

For music fans, Rainbow Rowell created playlists for Eleanor and Park that you can listen to on Spotify!

Don't miss Rainbow's newest book, Fangirl, set in NOW. It is every bit as amazing and an all-encompassing experience like Eleanor & Park and there is 100+ MORE pages to love!!

Source: Purchased

This Is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the ice box

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

-William Carlos Williams

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology PoemsOf course, there is the wonderful collection of non-apology apology poems by Gail Carson Levine with fantastic illustrations from Matthew Cordell, Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It, many of which have a fairy-tale flair to them...

There is also a very fun book of poems by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, titled, This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness in which an imagined sixth grade class apologizes for everything from broken windows and stolen doughnuts to lost pets and crushes. The students then take the bold move of asking for responses to their poems. In poetic form, of course.

Dodge Ball Crazy
(to Reuben) by Kyle

for belting you

as hard
as I could
in dodge ball

I'd like
to say
I wouldn't

do it again
but I'd
be lying

By Joyce Sidman, from her book, This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness.

 Sidman and Zagarenski are also the team who created the 2010 Caldecott honor winning book, Red Sings from the Treetops and a Newbery Honor in 2011 for her collection of poetry Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night.
Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in ColorsDark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night
And Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature with illustrations by Caldecott winner Beth Krommes.
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature

To listen to some very funny and mostly adult variations on this poetic apology that is not really an apology, check out the last six minutes of show #354 of This American Life titled Mistakes Were Made. Thanks for reminding me of this, David!


You travel a path on paper by Fanny Howe

You travel a path on paper

You travel a path on paper
and discover you are in a city
you only thought about before.

It's a Sunday marketplace. Parakeets and finches
are placed on the stones
and poppies in transparent wrapping.

How can you be where you never were?
And how did you find the way-with your mind
your only measure?

Fanny Howe

Included in the book:
 Poem in Your Pocket for Young Poets: 100 Poems to Rip Out and Read

Paris Market, taken by Zoey 4/11


The Snow is Melting by Kobayashi Issa

The Snow is Melting

              The snow is melting
           and the village is flooded
 with children.

Painting by William James Glackens
Washington Square, 1910


Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, 262 pp, RL 4

Thanhha Lai's semi-autobiographical verse novel, Inside Out & Back Again won the National Book Award and the Newbery Honor in 2011. I feel like I say this at the start of every verse novel that I review (which, admittedly, is few) but I continually find myself in awe of the author's ability to convey emotionally charged life experiences using a mere a handful of words. This economy of language is perfectly suited to Lai's story of Hà, a native of Saigon who flees with her older brothers and mother as the city falls. After weeks on a crowded boat then more weeks in a crowded tent city on Guam, they finally find a home in Alabama. Lai's concise poems and deliberate word choice are the ideal medium for conveying the powerful experiences of leaving the only home you have known and making in a new home in a country where at best your experience is completely alien, at worst, you are the face of the enemy of a nation. And, I can't imagine a more perfect way to convey the struggle to learn a new language, especially one as bafflingly illogical as English. But, Lai's story is more than a first person account of a refugee of war. Ten-year-old narrator Hà is a complex character, willful, spoiled and sometimes mean before leaving her home and determined, frightened and frustrated once she is in America, waiting for the day when she will feel smart again.

Lai begins Inside Out & Back Again on Tết, the Vietnamese New Year, in 1975 and ends her novel on Tết, January 31st, 1976. Hà begins the year by setting her foot on the floor first, ahead of her brother who has been chosen for this ritual because "only male feet can bring luck." When the "I Ching Teller of Fate" predicts a year that will turn her family's lives inside out, Hà carries the secret of her unlucky girl foot being the first to touch the floor with her as the events of the year unfold, unburdening herself of this secret just before the next Tết arrives. Almost as impossible to bear for Hà is knowing that, in Saigon she was the smartest in her class. In Vietnam, Hà was already reading Truyện Kiều, The Tale of Kieu, the story of a girl who sacrifices herself for her family, thought of as the most significant piece of Vietnamese literature written. In an interview, Lai said that she began reading Nguyễn Du's masterwork at the same age as Hà. At the age of twenty, she read a couplet in the poem that made her think, "how wonderful my life would be if I could spend hours conveying the world in as few words as possible. While writing Inside Out & Back Again I got a taste of that life, and let me tell you, it was wonderful." Lai's joy and mastery of this form of expression are both ever present as you read Inside Out & Back Again, but also elegantly subtle. Images and feelings will return to you long after you have finished.

While Hà's experience trying to teach herself to read with a Dick and Jane book and an English dictionary is quite an insight:

I look up 

Jane : not listed

sees : to eyeball something
Spot : a stain

run : to move really fast

Meaning :  ______ eyeballs stain move.

And her experience in a lunchroom divided by color is equally eyeopening:

On one side
Of the bright, noisy room,
light skin. 
Other side, 
dark skin.

Both laughing, chewing,
as if it never occurred 
to them
someone medium
would show up.

I experienced my first glimmer of illumination and understanding at the end of the novel in the poem 1976 : The Year of the Dragon.

This Tết 
there's no I Ching Teller of Fate,
So Mother predicts our year.

Our lives 
will twist and twist,
intermingling the old and the new
until it doesn't matter which is which.

Simple words and simple imagery, but somehow, it was in this moment at the end of the novel that I felt like I almost understood what it might feel like to leave your home, your way of life, the country where your father went missing nine years earlier, the place where you grew a papaya tree from a seed, your favorite fruit in the whole world and move to a new place where you can't even buy a fresh papaya and children pull the dark hairs on your arms and you mistake a flannel nightgown for a dress and wear it to school. Over time, your old life and new life blend together. Time softens the sharp edges of memories. But to have lived through this threshold year with Hà in Inside Out & Back Again, to go from sneaking money to buy toasted coconut, sugary fried dough and crunchy mung bean cookies at the market that you eat in delicious secrecy to "a white meat sandwich, an apple, crunchy things sprinkled with salt and a cookie dotted with chocolate raindrops" that you eat in the classroom alone so the children cannot pick on you is a potent experience, even in, or especially in, the form of a free verse poem.

Source: Purchased


Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists with an Introduction by Leonard S Marcus, edited by Chris Duffy, published by First Second Books


Aside from Françoise Mouly (TOON BOOKS) and Art Speigelman's brillinat Little Lit collections of folklore, fairy tales and funny (and scary) stories, illustrated in comic book format by a truly remarkable collection of artists (Jules Feiffer, Maurice Sendak, Barbara McClintock, David Macaulay, Daniel Clowes and William Joyce, to name a few) and authors (see previous list and add: Lemony Snickett, David Sedaris and Neil Gaiman) I can't think of any other place to find such a spectacular collection of creative types contributing to one very reasonably priced book. That is, until First Second had the genius to bring us Nursery Rhyme Comics.

I thought and thought about what to write in this review and even considered letting the pictures below do all the talking. But, as I read and reread children's book historian Leonard S Marcus' introduction to the book, I realized that he has perfectly summed up the brilliance and wonder of this book and, in light of that I will finish my review by quoting from him and allow you to peruse the pictures yourselves. Leonard begins,

Spry, melodic rhymes like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" have entertained generations of children while also demonstrating that words have the power to delight - not just convey more pedestrian messages like "See Spot run" and "Put away your toys." It's no accident that so many of the se (mostly anonymous) rhymes have lasted for centuries, passed down by word of mouth and a forest of illustrated books, though none illustrated quite like the book you have before you.

Marcus goes on to point out that "nursery rhymes make fertile ground for comics artists" because the old rhymes we know and love "beguile in part by sounding so emphatically clear about themselves while in fact leaving almost everything to the imagination." Marcus gives the example of "Hickory Dickory Dock." Is the mouse a "helpless bystander," as Marcus had imagined in his childhood, or is he a "slapstick superhero," as Stephanie Yue imagines in her interpretation of the nursery rhyme.

Marcus' observation is truly an astute one. While we all still known and sing these rhymes, how often to we really pay attention to them, in print or otherwise? Looking anew at these rhymes, with Marcus' perspective in mind, reading this book can be (besides just plain fun) educationally useful. As he notes,  emerging will "recognize the comics format with its characteristically small word clusters, abundance of visual cues, and funhouse ambiance, precisely the funhouse ambiance most helpful for honing and testing their fledgling skills." And, anyone else around (older brothers or sisters) who has developed an interest in graphic novels and manga will be pulled in to and fascinated by the "rich, loam-like mix of the book's assembled company of artists, some perhaps well known to them and others ripe for discovering."  Finally, Marcus notes that, in a time of a "mind-bending barrage of images aimed at momentarily engulfing our attention, it is refreshing to come across a book that encourages readers to linger over each and every one of its pages."

Below are images from the book with attributions and links to the artists' websites below, when available. Other contributors include - Jules Feiffer, Raina Telgemeier, Lark Pein, Eleanor Davis and Gene Yan, all creators whose work has been featured at books4yourkids.com in the past.

Matthew Ellseworth


Source : Review Copy

A Rose by Any Other Name by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

A Rose by Any Other Name

In Spain it's called a pedo
In Hungary you'd pass a fing
In Dutch you'd say en wind laten
When your bottom sings

In Japan it's called he onara
In Germany you'd pass der pup
In Italian you'd say peto
When that small sound erupts

In Russia it's called perdun
In Hindu you'd pass a pud
In Polish you'd say pierdzenic
For both loud or quiet duds

No matter where you come from
Or what language that you speak
It's really really funny
to hear a tushy squeak.

- Amy Krouse Rosenthal from The Wonder Book

Why I'm Late for School (National Hippo Day, February 15th) by J Patrick Lewis, illustrated from Anna Raff

National Hippo Day, February 15th

Why I'm Late for School

This hippopotamus thinks I'm a stool.
I wish he'd let me up to go to school.
If he squatted on my finger or one hand,
One knee or elbow, I could understand.
But head to toe? That makes it awful hard
To have a conversation with the lard!
Though not as hard as telling Mr. Bruce
My teacher, the old hippo-on-the-loose-
Who's-flattened-my whole-body's my excuse!

World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays 
You've Never Heard Of 
by J Patrick Lews, illustrated by Anna Raff


Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It, written by Gail Carson Levine with illustrations by Matthew Cordell, RL 2

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It:  False Apology Poems, written by Gail Carson Levine and brilliantly illustrated by the very busy Matthew Cordell, is, as you may surmise, inspired by William Carlos William's poem "This Is Just to Say." What Levine brings to this collection is her considerable knowledge of fairy tales and a gleefully wicked sense of humor. Every poem in the book it titled, "This Is Just To Say," (and the last stanza of each poem begins with the same line, "Forgive me") and the table of contents is a very funny jumble of the title over and over in different sized fonts. Six poems into the book we find the Introduction, which turns out to be a "This Is Just to Say" poem with a great illustration of a pointy-toothed, very demented looking Levine. The poem reads:

This Is Just to Say

Instead of at the beginning
I slipped 
this introduction
in here

my editor excruciatingly loudly
it does not belong

Forgive me
I also shredded
her red pencil and stirred
the splinters into her tea

All pictures on line seem to indicate that Levine is a pixie-haired, elfin type, making the poem and illustration even more hilarious. The next page finds William Carlos Williams given the Cordell treatment, scribbling madly on a pad of paper, his "This Is Just to Say," on the opposite page and a bit of biographical information as a way of introduction. The next page is a true introduction in which Levine encourages readers to write their own false apology poem saying, "don't even consider writing this kind of poem unless you can get yourself into a grouchy mood. You will be waisting your time. If you do decide to write, your poems should be mean, or what's the point? Mine are, and William Carlos Williams's is too, in its subtle way. He's glad he got to those plums first!" And, she goes on, you "don't need a title because William Carlos Williams has already given you one, which can be repeated endlessly until your reader is completely sick of it. You also don't need a new ninth line, because that's always the same too: Forgive me." I love it! Not only is Levine explaining her self and her seemingly cranky attitude, she is encouraging and instructing readers on how to adopt and employ it as well!

The poem above finds an narrator who has gone unpaid for her/his lawn mowing job lacing the grass with poison ivy. Another, below, finds a child apologizing for running away with Muffie. The last stanza reads, "Forgive me/ we just/ landed in -/ never mind"

Another poem finds a boy and a girl, brother and sister perhaps, and a missing baseball cap. Then, there is the narrator apologizing for casting a magic spell on Louie the bully and turning him into a fly, asking forgiveness for having a fly swatter ready...
Perhaps it is because of the funny, slightly subversive nature of the poems or maybe the expressive pen and ink line drawings of Matthew Cordell, but Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It:  False Apology Poems does call to mind the great Shel Silverstein, in the best ways possible. And there is always more room on the shelf for a book of slightly subversive, wonderfully illustrated poetry!

This Is Just To Say by Gail Carson Levine, illustrations by Matthew Cordell

From  Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It:  False Apology Poems, written by Gail Carson Levine and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

This Is Just To Say by Gail Carson Levine, illustrations by Matthew Cordell

from:  Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It:  False Apology Poems, by Gail Carson Levine with illustrations by Matthew Cordell


Think LIke a Tree by Karen I. Shragg


Soak up the sun
Affirm life's magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling

Karen I. Shragg


A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

EARTH DAY is tomorrow!

Marilyn Singer, of Tallulah's Tutu fame with illustrations by the superb Alexandra Boiger, brings us this fantastic books of poems with the best title EVER, A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play, just in time for National Poetry Month. Better yet, the very busy LeUyen Pham's (The Best Birthday Party Ever by Jennifer Laurie Huget is my favorite of hers) illustrations are perfectly matched to the text. Pham's style is boisterous, jubilant and full of energy and with a color palette that harkens back to the days before electronic devices of all manner sapped our kids of motivation to do anything besides sit in front of a glowing screen.

I have no doubt that girls do this too, but as the mother of two boys, I can tell you that there were many years where we could not make the walk home from school without a stick or two in hand. In fact, one day my oldest son decided that he was going to line the four blocks from school to our house with sticks and any other naturally occurring object that came his way. That was one very long walk. Finding a book of poetry like A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play that commemorates and revels in these times is a fantastic treat, for parents and kids.

Singer's book is made up of eighteen poems that celebrate games that kids play, with other kids or alone in their imaginations. Her shorter poems, like the titular, "A Stick Is an Excellent Thing," feel almost like songs that you would sing while playing one of the outdoor games she writes about. As Betsy Bird says so well in her review, "Where Singer creates the framework, Pham creates the world. Her kids exist in that bubble where adults are on the periphery, present when you need them, invisible when you don't. Through her art you not only get a sense of the game, you find it impossible not to want to jump in and join.

While I think the images and poems I included here speak for themselves and the title and dust jacket alone should be enough to make you run out (or run to your computer/phone, although you are already there if you are reading this...) and buy this book for all the kids in your life, I would like to touch on one aspect of the book that I wish weren't notable - the diversity of not only the cast of kids in this book. While ethnic diversity is slowly creeping toward becoming the norm in picture books, especially in books with a large cast of characters, (besides Pham, Dan Santat, Adam Rex, Sophie Blackall, Barbara Lehman, G Brain Karas (Neville by Norton Juster) and John Rocco (Blackout) are all illustrators who come immediately to mind when I think of character diversity in picture books) I think it still deserves being noted. And, as Betsy Bird notes of the charcters, "by reading the book over and over again you recognize them from one scene to another." Bird also points out that Pham also brings diversity to stereotypical gender roles and has girls skateboarding and boys playing jump rope. Yet another reason to buy A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play and share it with stick lovers of all ages!


Gone Fishing : A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger, illustrated by Matthew Cordell, 120 pp, RL 2

Gone Fishing: A novel

So, besides the fact that Gone Fishing : A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger, with illustrations by the fantastic Matthew Cordellis a wonderful novel told in poems about a boy, his dad and a fishing trip that is almost ruined by his little sister, Wissinger's poems teach various forms of poetry as you read! A the end of the book is The Poet's Tackle Box that begins with a note from the author I am including here because I love the way Wissinger compares writing poetry with catching fish:

Like Sam and his tackle box, poets have a box of tools to help them write poems. Those tools include rhyme, rhythm, poetry techniques, and poetic forms.

In fishing, if one type of bait or approach isn't working, the fisherman or fisherwoman may try something else. This is also true for poets. If you are writing a poem and get stuck, try another form, or try a new topic. (Or take a break. Doing something different for a while may help you get back on track.) Sometimes many poems will appear quickly, as the eight fish do for Lucy. Other times, a poem will appear like Sam's fish - only after you wait and wait. Maybe that poem, like Sam's fish, will be a keeper.

The Poet's Tackle Box covers the poetic forms that Wissinger has used throughout the book. As you can see below, after the title of each poem, the name for the poetic form used is indicated as well as the speaker of the poem - either Sam, Lucy or Dad as well as a Dramatic Poem for Three Voices. I can't think of a better way to introduce the nuts and bolts (bait and tackle?) of poetry to kids than this innovative, engaging book. I have no doubt that you will be amazed to learn just how many different poetic forms there are out there! My favorite discovery is the MENU POEM that comes after a successful day on the lake...

Source: Review Copy



April 18, 2013 is 
POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY! Don't forget to arm yourselves and your family with poems to share! If you need a little help finding poems, visit the POETS.org PIYP page for downloads and ideas for making the day great. And, last year, these great books for kids and adults were published.

Poem in Your Pocket, edited by Elaine Bleakney, in conjunction with the Academy of American Poets. Published by ABRAMS, the purveyor of gorgeous books, this brilliant little tome is 5x7 and the cover opens to reveal a tablet of 200 tear-off pages of thematically arranged poems to share. 

"First there was National Poetry Month, then there was National Poem in Your Pocket Day, now you can carry a poem in your pocket anytime!"
Published in conjunction with the Academy of American Poets, Poem in Your Pocket enables you to select a poem you love, tear it out neatly from the book, and then carry it with you all day to read, be inspired by, and share with coworkers, family, and friends. This innovative format features 200 poems from Shakespeare to Sexton, cleverly organized by theme. If you’re feeling wistful, flip to the “Sonic Youth” section. If you want to romance your lover and surprise him or her with a seductive sonnet, turn to the “Love and Rockets” section. Now you can easily spread the love of poetry or treasure it in private with Poem in Your Pocket! Whether you’re a fan of Sylvia Plath or Emily Dickinson, Frank O’Hara or Walt Whitman, Poem in Your Pocket has a poem for everyone."

With More Poems for Your Pocket, Bobbi Katz (you can watch an interview with here over at the great virtual field trip site, MEET ME AT THE CORNER)brings us a collection of poems by esteemed writers such as Langston Hughes, Ogden Nash, John Ciardi, Richard Wilbur Emily Dickinson. There are also poems by Katz herself, including this one, perfect for the day -

A Pocket Poem

With a poem in your pocket
a pocket in you pants
you can rock with new rhythms.
You can skip.
You can dance.
And wherever you go,
and whatever you do,
that poem in your pocket is going there, too.
You could misplace your homework.
You could lose your left shoe.
But that poem in your pocket will be part of you.
And nothing can take it.
And nothing can break it.
That poem in your pocket
part of ...

Finally, if you just can't find any poems, click here for a great selection of pocket-sized PDF poems and make your own sheaf to share!

Thanks to reader jennybell for introducing me to this wonderful poem!!

Keep A Poem In Your Pocket
By Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Keep a poem in your pocket
And a picture in your head
And you'll never feel lonely
At night when you're in bed.

The little poem will sing to you
The little picture bring to you
A dozen dreams to dance to you
At night when you're in bed.

So - -
Keep a picture in your pocket
And a poem in your head
And you'll never feel lonely
At night when you're in bed.