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A POKE IN THE I by Paul B. Janeczko Kirkus Star


A Collection of Concrete Poems

edited by Paul B. Janeczko & illustrated by Chris Raschka

Age Range: 5 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7636-0661-8
Publisher: Candlewick

Not only a “poke in the I” but a tickle in the ego, some giggles and ah’s and ha’s await readers of this collection of concrete poetry, gloriously enhanced by Raschka’s colorful torn-paper, watercolor, and ink images. Even the table of contents, the flap copy, and the front and back matter take concrete forms. As the introduction points out, “The arrangement of letters or words on the page, the typefaces chosen, and the way space is used, add meaning to the poem beyond that contained in the actual words.” This means that some of these poems are difficult to read aloud because much of their impact comes from seeing them on the page, but the playful presentation will inspire readers of all ages not only to read them, but to create concrete poetry of their own. Raschka has outdone himself here; see, for example, his own poem, “Cat Chair.” Scraps of floral paper shape a chair with the single word “cat” resting in the seat. Throughout, his brilliant take on each poem adds humor and meaning. In addition to their visual appeal, some of the poems do read aloud splendidly. Joan Bransfield Graham’s “Popsicle” is “tickle tongue fun” indeed. Every one of these poems is a winner, and each stimulates a kind of mental acrobatics that is as exhilarating as the exuberant art, and as refreshing and fun as the poems themselves. Truly a tour de force. (Picture book/poetry. 5+)