Winters follows up her debut poetry book (Did You See What I Saw?, 1996) with another collection of poems about school.
The 35 poems run the gamut from the first day of school to the first day of summer and are written from all sorts of perspectives, including those of a school, a bus, the new kid, and an earthworm. (That last poem may have readers scratching their heads as to how it fits, but the illustration of earthworms tunneling below a farmer on a tractor is quite fabulous.) Kids will find lots that is familiar here: a fire drill, the awkward thrill of spotting a teacher outside of school, a friend moving away, permission slips, academic subjects, a snow day, the 100th day of school, tests, and lice, among others (though absent are any poems about school lunches). The forms of the poems also vary. Some are free verse; others rhyme, though the rhymes and rhythm are occasionally weak (“guess” with “tests”). Barton’s digital illustrations have a watercolor look, with soft edges and colors. She focuses largely on the people, her vignettes filled with diverse students and teachers engaged with each other.
Though the poems of Bruce Lansky and Jack Prelutsky remain the gold standard in terms of school poems, these do present some different topics and viewpoints. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)