Review of A Poem in Your Pocket

mcnamara_poem in your pocketA Poem in Your Pocket
by Margaret McNamara; illus. by G. Brian Karas
Primary     Schwartz & Wade/Random     32 pp.
1/15     978-307-97947-6     $16.99
Library ed. 978-0-307-97948-3 $19.99
e-book ed. 978-0-307-97949-0 $10.99

The author/artist team behind How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? revisit Mr. Tiffin’s warm, supportive classroom, where this time his students are learning about poetry. As the class prepares for a famous poet’s visit, Elinor has complete confidence in her own poem-writing abilities: “I’m going to wear my jeans with six pockets that day…I’m going to have a different poem in each one.” Unfortunately for Elinor, her firm grasp of similes and metaphors and knowing a haiku from a concrete poem does not translate into actually being able to write poetry herself, so while the rest of the class delights in what they are learning, she gets more and more worried. McNamara slyly works in a lot of information while keeping the focus on Elinor’s dilemma. Examples of poetry the kids come up with (“Buds are like tiny red firecrackers…waiting to explode into flowers”; “Sadness is a cracked sidewalk”) may inspire young readers to attempt their own writing, especially since Karas’s gouache, acrylic, and pencil pictures make the diverse group of classmates look like they are having fun. A final page of “Mr. Tiffin’s Pointers” talks about Poem in Your Pocket Day but neglects to mention the poem that started it all, Beatrice Schenk de Regniers’s “Keep a Poem in Your Pocket."

From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Susan Dove Lempke
Susan Dove Lempke
Susan Dove Lempke is a Horn Book reviewer and director of the Niles Public Library District in Illinois.

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