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Hanging Out With Fernie and Me

by Gary Soto & illustrated by Regan Dunnick

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-23615-5
Publisher: Putnam

Capable as ever of making common childhood experiences marvelous, Soto (Baseball in April, 2000, etc.) poetically delineates a fast friendship between a never-named observer and his irrepressible buddy Fernie. Given to sudden flights of imagination, the writer opens with an image of the two as infants, “both as bald as plucked chickens and clucking like chickens” and finishes with a rapturous bout of snow-eating (“Then, wow, an elephant from nowhere arrived / To hose up his share of the snow”). In between, along with some solitary moments, he records Fernie’s exuberant dance with a broom, the time he put 100 candles on a birthday cake, missed ten pop flies in one game, tried to pound a nail in with a baseball bat, and more. Gathering various elements from each poem into postmodern, expressionistic scenes, Dunnick captures the poet’s gloomy moods better than the more joyous ones, but Soto’s conversational, seemingly artless writing will draw young readers, poetry fans or not, into the world, and the heads, of these two everylads. (Poetry. 8-10)