From School Library Journal
Grade 5-7–Geordie's grandparents give him a journal, and he writes lists, vignettes, poems, and reflections over the course of one year. His poems observe and record human activity, science, and nature. Most often, his subjects are family, school, or the outdoors, including the carrots he and his father plan to plant. The book is presented in journal style with different type fonts and some full-page concrete poems. New's poems, such as Band Practice, demonstrate a pleasing command of rhythm and imagery. However, the spare details in the journal entries provide a weak narrative thread and leave Geordie as a half-baked persona. The rather banal prose entries bear little resemblance to the wistful poems. The poems do yield some moments of insight, but they don't illuminate the writer who supposedly penned them. Nor do they feel like the creations of a child. Extensive poetry collections may wish to add this hybrid, but most libraries should stick with Sharon Creech's Love That Dog
(HarperCollins, 2001) and Ron Koertge's Shakespeare Bats Cleanup
(Candlewick, 2003) for this audience.–Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
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The author of Llamas in the Laundry (2002) offers another volume of themed poetry, this time for a slightly older audience. Geordie receives a journal from his grandparents, and after he is grounded for breaking a window, he finds much time for writing. He muses about snow, aliens, gardening, and, after his grandfather’s death, the composition of dust. Geordie’s pieces range from lyrical prose to traditional rhymes to linear and concrete poems to word puzzles. The typesetting and design are of particular note; in many poems the words become the art, as in “Spider Games,” where each haiku-styled stanza is printed on a different strand of a web, resulting in a poem that can be read in multiple ways. With generous white space on every page, this makes a good choice for reluctant readers. Give this to fans of other narrative poetry collections such as Kalli Dakos’ Put Your Eyes Up Here and Other School Poems (2003); a Web site offers puzzle solutions and a teaching guide. Grades 4-7. --Kay Weisman