This anthology provides instruction on an eclectic sprawl of topics: walking on Mars, toasting marshmallows, telling the difference between goblins and elves, and more.
A table of contents readies readers and makes this zany collection feel orderly. “How to Build a Poem” comes first, celebrating the craft that underpins poetry and “words that hammer, / words that nail, / words that saw, / words that sail, / words that whisper, / words that wail.” Children immediately feel the pull of all the verse ahead. Contemporary poems make up the bulk of this collection, but a few poems reach across swaths of time. Robert Louis Stevenson’s brilliantly evocative “The Swing” proves how a great poem endures. Children will soar hearing, “Up in the air I go flying again, / Up in the air and down!” All of the poems offer exhilarating construction while speaking directly to children about topics young people hold close to their hearts (haircuts, riding a new bike, rules). Depicting a diverse gathering of children, these mellow painted illustrations feel at once soft and gravely, with crosshatching, textures, and lines. The engaging artwork nudges the poems into the foreground, giving them ample room to breathe. The collection closes with “How to Pay Attention,” just two lines that are almost a sacred offering. “Close this book. / Look.”
Young people lucky enough to find this miraculous collection in their hands will indeed look. (Picture book/poetry. 6-11)