Review of Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me

Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me
by Eloise Greenfield; illus. by Ehsan Abdollahi
Primary    Sourcebooks Jabberwocky    40 pp.    g
4/19    978-1-4926-7724-6    $15.99

Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award recipient Greenfield (Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems; Nathaniel Talking, rev. 9/90; The Great Migration, rev. 1/11) here presents a series of poems, some from new puppy Thinker’s point of view, some from young owner Jace’s. The two philosophize about poetry and life while getting to know each other. Thinker likes to recite poetry aloud, but Jace, a poet himself, worries that Thinker will talk in front of other people. Thinker has to be himself, though, and when Thinker visits Jace’s classroom on Pets’ Day and blurts out a funny poem, Jace is proud of him. “I pat him on the back, / and I say, / ‘You’re cool, Thinker. / Keep on being your / cool self.’” The poems range from free verse, sometimes with well-paced internal rhyme (“fast or slow, high or low / I stop and I go, almost / like singing, making / word-music”), to more structured rhyming poems, culminating in “Thinker’s Rap” (and Greenfield characterizes rap as “real poetry” in her child-friendly author’s note). Abdollahi’s bright collages of handmade and hand-colored paper show Thinker with his joyful, brown-skinned family, in a welcome addition to the too-small canon of lighthearted animal fantasy (and poetry) featuring children of color.

From the July/August 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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