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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles, poems and drawings by Douglas Florian. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin. 2014. $18.99 ages 8 and p

"I hate broccoli.
I hate peas.
I hate liver
And Swiss cheese.
I hate milk
And I hate bread.
I hate lettuce -
every head.
I hate green beans,
Short or long.
I love French fries
All day long."

In the days following your National Poetry Month celebration, you might be happy to check out Douglas Florian's new book of funny verse. It pretty much assures that you are going to have kids who will love the laughs and long to share it with others. As often happens, poetry begets poetry. I know you will have students in your classrooms who will want to try their hand at using some of Florian's most enjoyable work to mentor their own writing. Of course, the other advantage of sharing poetry is that it is more accessible for less capable readers, and it encourages them to keep working at fluency as they enjoy one verse after another. It's a win-win for all, isn't it?

With his signature artwork and his uncanny ability to play with words in unique and humorous ways, Douglas Florian creates a collection that is full of brief observations and runs the gamut of appealing subjects. There are 11 aisles to choose from: Wit and Whimsy, Chortles and Chuckles, Funny Bones and Belly Laughs, Giggles and Glee and Tons of Teehee, Willy-Nilly Sillies, Tons of Puns, Jests and Jives, Rib-Ticklers and Sidesplitters, Jokes and Pokes and  Funny Folks, Hee-Haws and Great Guffaws, and Miles of Smiles. There is something here for everyone.

I love wordplay, so I started with Tons of Puns over in Aisle 6:

"...And when I took the garbage out,
I put it up a tree.
I placed a dozen tulip bulbs
Inside of lightbulb sockets,
And tried to squeeze three bowling balls
Inside of my back pockets.
Today my head is in a fog.
A fog is in my head.
Until the weather's better there,
I'm going back to bed."

Exactly what happens to me when spring arrives with its dirt and dust, and job after job to be done. I do get them started, but am easily sidetracked from finishing up.

Make sure that your middle graders get this book in their hands. They will enjoy the topics presented and the appealing, short and fun poems they will find within its pages. Then, let them use the art and the words to inform their own work. They are sure to find inspiration here.

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