A group of children and a few adults are introduced individually in poems that highlight a single aspect of each one’s personality, preferences, and foibles.
Meet the new kid, a shy girl, a wannabe class clown, an accident waiting to happen, a few teachers, a hamster, and many more. The poems, seemingly voiced by classmates, differ in length and construction. Some are great fun and some are more serious. Rooney includes a child who uses a wheelchair, a deaf child, a child who may be on the autism spectrum, and one who is possibly abused at home. There is also an absent girl represented by a memory plaque on a bench. Each poem appears on a double-page spread and is accompanied by a thumbnail line drawing of the subject and a larger scale blue, black, and white cartoon that illuminates the content of the text. Race and ethnicity are not named, but the thumbnails depict one teacher and several children as black as well as an Asian boy and one Muslim girl. A bit of subtle stereotyping shows a chubby “joker,” and the “whizz kid,” the “wordsmith,” and the “inscrutable” boy are all depicted wearing glasses. First published in the U.K., the book has not been Americanized, but American kids who puzzle over some of the vocabulary will surely recognize bits of themselves and their friends in the characters.
Charming, fun to read, and thought provoking. (author’s note) (Poetry. 7-12)