What on earth is a concrete poem? Well, for one thing, it's a lot more playful than a regular poem. The arrangement of letters or words, or the way the type--and even blank space--is placed on the page, or the typefaces chosen... all of these things can contribute to the creation of a concrete poem. In this marvelous collection selected by Paul B. Janeczko (Very Best (Almost) Friends
, etc.) and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Chris Raschka (Yo! Yes?
, etc.), you never know what might happen from page to page. In John Agard's "Skipping Rope Spell," for example, the words are shaped into four spirals, representing the motions of hands as they turn the jump rope. "A Seeing Poem," by Robert Froman, is printed in the shape of a light bulb. The words of the poem in conventional order go like this: "A seeing poem happens when words take a shape that helps them to turn on a light in someone's mind." And Monica Kulling's "Tennis Anyone?" covers two pages. The poem is split down the middle, so readers must swivel their heads back and forth as if they were watching a match! Raschka's unique, terrifically captivating illustrations, done in watercolor, ink, and torn paper, are a perfect match for the wackiness and joy of the poetry. (Ages 5 and older) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
On this book's cover, a winking man nudges a letter "I" with his umbrella. This multilayered image, with its homonym and visual game, provides a stimulating introduction to 30 concrete poems by various authors. Throughout the volume, crisp black words on spotless backgrounds do double-duty as concepts and physical objects. Raschka (Waffle, reviewed below) works in tandem with each poem's design; for example, he fashions the palindrome "eyeleveleye" as a bar across three faces, with each pair of "E's" standing for eyes, and the giddy eat-it-before-it-melts "Popsicle" presents a block of words atop vertical letters spelling "sticky," as a nearby ice cream vendor gazes out from the page. Other poems contradict top-to-bottom reading conventions. The phrases of "Sky Day Dream" ("Once I saw/ some crows/ fly off...") ascend the page, diminishing in size as though growing distant. For the spread "Tennis Anyone?" words and artwork suggest a tennis court with the gutter as the net, so that readers glance from side to side as though watching a volley. Janeczko (Very Best [almost] Friends) selects economical works that allow plenty of space for reflection. "Whee" offers a slope of six single-syllable words ("Packed snow steep hill fast sled") and a scattered group of rag-doll figures; another piece simply joins "merging" to "traffic." Raschka's restrained collages of calligraphic watercolor lines and torn paper leave most everything to the shaped poems. He and Janeczko provide an uncluttered, meditative space for the picturesque language. All ages.
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