TITLE: A Kick in the Head
AUTHOR: Paul B. Janeczko
ILLUSTRATOR: Chris Raschka
PUBLISHED BY: Candlewick, 2005 (reprint 2009)
Last evening, I sat down in one of two chairs covered by sheets in our living room, across from my roommate (busily typing and eating popcorn) put my feet on the table, grabbed A Kick in the Head and looked at her saying: THIS BOOK IS GREAT. I wish that I could bottle up my expression for all my readers so that when I introduce this book they can see my face and hear my voice as I say: THIS BOOK IS GREAT. And I know I say that a lot. But I really mean it. This is a great book.
Given that it is about poetry, I wish that I could write a limerick or a haiku or a sonnet (or even a double-dactyl) about it. But I am only a lover of poetry, not a poetic lover. Maybe I can try a Senryu (which, as I know from this book, is formally the same as a Haiku, but is concerned with matters of humanity, not nature):
of wonderfulness!” I shout
while heads turn to stare.
In A Kick in the Head Paul Janeczko provides examples of 29 different poetic forms (from a couplet to a villanelle, an acrostic to a blues poem). Alongside each one are vibrant and often very funny collage illustrations done by Chris Raschka. And hidden on each page in small type are short simple descriptions of the particular form. (This is brilliant. As Mr. Janeczko says in his introduction, “You can read this book any way you wish, of course, but let me offer a suggestion, Read a poem, then read the explanatory note…then read the poem another time or two to see if you can tell how it follows—or departs from—the aspects of that particular poetic form, No matter how you read this book, though, be patient with the forms and enjoy the poems.”
I’ve never seen a book that presented so much information about poetry in such a simple, and frankly fun way. Children have a wonderful capacity to learn poetry (Mother Goose, lullabys, etc are all in verse). Why not start them as early as possible on more advanced poetic forms, so that poetry is “in the blood”. With this GREAT book, it won’t be hard.