From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-Mrs. Williams's fifth-grade students are studying explorers, but there is a lot more going on in their complicated young lives. The teacher observes: "Every child is like/A little world with ever-changing weather,/Nights and mornings. And somehow, here we are,/Spinning through the universe together." In fact, Sam and his family are sleeping in his uncle's car, Andrew has trouble paying attention in class but can make a bike out of parts, Richard's dog has died, and Laura's mom has breast cancer. In this short novel written in verse, each student speaks in a unique poetic voice whose form is explained in detail in a "Notes on Forms" section. Jaquanna, for example, is represented in pantoum; Jon, with blank verse; and Shawna, Kate, Rosa, Natalie, Crystal, Monique, and Asha in a crown of sonnets. All of the poems in the second part are acrostics, except for Naomi's haiku, and readers will enjoy decoding them to reveal an additional thought about each character. Interwoven dramatic stories and interesting poetic patterns give this book extra appeal. A boon for poetry classes.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
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Gr. 5-7. In a series of poems, first a fifth-grade teacher and then the students in her classroom talk about their lives at school and at home. A long final section analyzes the 22 poetic forms Frost has used, from sonnets and haiku to the lesser-known pantoun, tanka, and tercelle, with intricate details about their rhyme, meter, and repetition patterns. Most readers, however, will be more interested in the stories the poetry tells. The vignettes aren't as closely connected as they were in Frost's Keesha's House
, a 2004 Printz Honor Book. Here the poems provide a glimpse of a greater diversity of characters. Richard mourns for his dog ("My ears are empty from the / Noises Pepperoni doesn't make"). Jack attacks stereotypes about his Indian people ("Pinch me. I'm not / extinct, like a dinosaur"). Some pieces are connected, as in the series of sonnets "It's Hard to Fit In," and some voices come back and surprise the reader, as when the bully Natalie reveals her humanity. In the best pieces, the rigorous form intensifies the feelings. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved