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A Kick in the Head
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About the Author

Paul B. Janeczko acts as an editor, anthologist, poet and teacher in his many award-winning books. He has also edited over twenty poetry anthologies for young readers. He taught high-school English for 22 years before leaving to become a visiting poet. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Hebron, Maine. Chris Raschka was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania in 1959. He is an author, illustrator and violist and winner of the 2006 Caldecott Medal for The Hello, Goodbye Window. A Kick in the Head was also a 2006 WOW! Award winner. He has published over thirty books.

Reviews

Janeczko and Raschka, on the heels of A Poke in the I, explain and sometimes bend the rules of 29 poetic forms, taking their title from a concrete poem of a stick figure punting a ball (poetry jumpstarts my imagination.... poetry gives me a kick in the head). By way of introduction, Janeczko asks, Why 17 syllables in a haiku?, then points out the pleasurable rigors of poetic exercise: Can you do a good job within these limits? The pages demonstrate compact forms like the couplet, tercet and quatrain, and proceed to the more complex roundel, triolet, villanelle (basically five tercets followed by a quatrain) and pantoum (a set of quatrains where, in the final stanza, lines 2 and 4 repeat lines 3 and 1 of the opening stanza. Whew!). Janeczko emphasizes play, and gives definitions in unintimidating, perhaps too tiny gray print; his approachable examples range from an Edward Lear limerick and Shakespeare's 12th sonnet to an Ode to Pablo's Tennis Shoes by Gary Soto and a comic epitaph by J. Patrick Lewis. Raschka marks each form with a witty icon: stacked rows of tulips (haiku, tanka), a bouncing ball (limerick), an urn (ode), a guitar (ballad). His multimedia collages feature fibrous, fuzzy-edged origami paper on a clean white ground; his sensuous brushwork alludes to Zen calligraphy, while his poppy reds, jade greens and brilliant yellows recall kimono designs or Matisse's tropical palette. Janeczko's disciplined but accessible examples, plus Raschka's spirited Asian-inspired images, add oomph to this joyful poetry lesson, sure to be welcomed by teachers and aspiring poets everywhere. Ages 8-11. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Gr 3-9-Following on the heels of their delightful introduction to concrete poetry, A Poke in the I (Candlewick, 2001), Janeczko and Raschka now join forces to explore poetic forms. An introduction presents an easy-to-swallow rationale for the many rules to follow, likening the restrictions to those found in sports: in both cases, rules challenge the players to excel in spite of limits. The repertoire then unfolds to showcase 29 forms, one to two poems per spread, building from a couplet, tercet, and quatrain to the less familiar and more complex persona poem, ballad, and pantoum. The selections are accessible without being simplistic; they span an emotional range from the tongue-in-cheek humor of J. Patrick Lewis's "Epitaph for Pinocchio" to Rebecca Kai Dotlich's moving "Whispers to the [Vietnam] Wall." Each page is a tour de force of design, the pace and placement of art and text perfectly synchronized. Raschka's characters and abstractions emerge from torn layers of fuzzy rice paper, intricately patterned Japanese designs, and solids, decorated and defined by quirky ink-and-watercolor lines. The expansive white background provides continuity and contrast to the colorful parade. The name of each form resides in the upper corner of the page, accompanied by a wry visual. A definition (in an unobtrusive smaller font) borders the bottom; more detail on each form is provided in endnotes. Readers will have the good fortune to experience poetry as art, game, joke, list, song, story, statement, question, memory. A primer like no other.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Readers will have the good fortune to experience poetry as art, game, joke, list, song, story, statement, question, memory. A primer like no other.
--School Library Journal (starred review)

This is the introduction that will ignite enthusiasm. The airy spaces between the words and images will invite readers to find their own responses to the poems and encourage their interest in the underlying rules, which, Janeczko says, 'make poetry-like sports-more fun.'
--Booklist (starred review)

The title poem proclaims that 'poetry jumpstarts . . . imagination'; this book shows how that's done.
--The Horn Book (starred review)

Janeczko's disciplined but accessible examples, plus Raschka's spirited Asian-inspired images, add oomph to this joyful poetry lesson, sure to be welcomed by teachers and aspiring poets everywhere.
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A beautiful, beautifully clear celebration of the discipline of poetry--and the possibilities offered by that discipline--this offering will find use both in the hands of eager poets and on the reference shelf.
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Featured/recommended
--Parenting Press e-zine

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