The title of Viorst’s latest collection of poetry for children provides an open invitation for readers not only to ponder feelings in general, but to examine their reactions to the assembled poems as well.
Complemented by White’s free-flowing mixed-media illustrations, the light lyric pieces cover topics ranging from “School Stuff” to descriptions of the seasons, with the most memorable poems centering on personal and familial relations. The reasons “Why Cats Are Better Than My Older Sister” include (but are not limited to) the following: “They never tell you what to do. / They never ever yell at you. / They don’t think that they’re always right. / They’re prettier to look at, too.” In “New Brother,” trenchant free-verse anti–new-sibling sentiment is hilariously underscored by White’s rendering of a smiling, swaddled babe strapped to a rocket heading “To Mars.” But some stumbles make for an uneven reading experience. There are occasional grammatical lapses, as found in “Could Somebody Please Explain This to Me, Please?,” which hinges on subject-verb disagreement, and questionable messages, as offered in “Help Me!”: “Help me please with all my / Ninety-seven other chores. / Then help me make excuses / When you ask for help with yours.” Though likely made in the service of humor or adopting a child’s persona, such poetic choices might give adult readers less to be “glad” than “mad about.”
An unusually mixed bag. (Poetry. 6-10)