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Poetry Month: Lemonade and other poems squeezed from a single word

by Bob Raczka. Illustrated by Nancy Doniger. 44p. Roaring Brook Press, March, 2011.

Twenty-two poems created from twenty-two words. It's really hard to describe these creations - part concrete poems, part anagram, but they really are fun and the kids will have a blast deciphering them. I say decipher because I could make neither head nor tail out of many of them due to their free form. Thank goodness for the translation that appears on the following page! Sorry to say that I'm a linear sort of gal. So I pretty much read the static page to appreciate the creativity.

Now, I have an embarrassing admission to share: I often refer back to whatever book I am reviewing - no, that's not the embarrassing part. I just referred back to the book now, and realized that I skipped the introduction the first go-round. Ordinarily, I don't skip reading the introduction, dedication, CIP info (yes, I'm that nerdly. I'm a librarian!) and flaps. I usually read those first. This time, I just dove right in and immediately looked and sounded like an emerging reader. "M...ade. Made. On...e, oh! one!" Huh?

Mr. Raczka explains (in the introduction that I skipped) that the array of lettering is not random, but dictated by its position in the original word! Light dawns! Knowing that, actually made it easier for me to make sense of the patterns.

The illustrations are simple and basically shades of grays and blacks with splashes of red here and there. I didn't find any notes on the media, but they have a watercolor feel to them, though, for all I know, they could've been done on computer. After delighting in Peter Reynold's illustrations for Bob Raczka's last work, Guyku, the illustrations in Lemonade didn't make as big an impression. Perhaps that's because the form of the poem needed to take center stage. 

Of course, this is a must-purchase for school libraries! In addition to pepping up the poetry collection, it begs to be incorporated into the language arts curriculum as a writing exercise. Since I'm a firm believer that teachers model the lesson, here's my lame attempt:

Lab         s
    br       o
    b ad
l               o
   b            s


The evidence:

I had been holding off publishing this post because I wanted to scan a page to show an example of how the set-up works. Unfortunately, the scanner part of my new wireless printer/ scanner doesn't work without being wired and I can't find my firewire, which, of course didn't come with the printer/ scanner because these are always sold separately.

So. I'm posting this late, without scanning an example page. Do find this fun book and give it a go.

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Love your labrador poem! I loved the actual playing with words, and it looks like you did as well. Thanks for the great pictures, too!

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