Friday, July 17, 2015

Poetry Friday with a review of Doodle Dandies: Poems that take shape

Until relatively recently all the poems I had seen looked the same; pretty much. They were presented as columns of text that were divided to create stanzas. With one exception. A poem that appears in Alice in Wonderland is curved so that it looks like the tail of a mouse. When I saw it for the first time many years ago, I remember thinking that this was a very clever device . In the last few years I have noticed that more people are creating poems that are presented to create a 'picture.' Today's poetry title is full of such poems, poems that offer the eye something to look at.

Doodle Dandies: Poems that take shape
Doodle Dandies: Poems that take ShapeJ. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Lisa Desimini
Poetry
For ages 5 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 1998, 978-0689810756
Most people are familiar with the form that poems usually take. More often than not they are divided into stanzas that are arranged on the page in a neat column.  Readers have become so used to this format that they think that is how poems have to be presented. The truth is that there are no rules. Poems can be formatted in all kinds of ways, and perhaps the most ‘extreme’ formatting options are those used when creating shape poems.
   Shape poems are arranged on the page to create an image, and the image somehow reflects the subject matter of the poem. Many years ago Lewis Carroll created a shape poem (also called a visual or concrete poem) called “The Mouse’s Tail.” The poem appeared in his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the words of the poem are presented in such a way that they look like a sinuous mouse tail that runs from the top of the page to the bottom.
   In this book J. Patrick Lewis gives readers twenty poems that delight both the ear and the eye. For each poem the illustrator has created multimedia artwork that provides the perfect backdrop for the word pictures. For example, for the poem “Umbrella” there is a picture of a girl wearing a bright yellow rain slicker and above her, sheltering her from raindrops, is an umbrella-shaped poem. The poem tells us that the girl keeps her umbrella “in the closet till the clouds get fat.” Then she brings the umbrella out because it “loves a rainy day.”
   Some of the poems are only a sentence or two long, while others offer readers more food for thought. The topics explored in the poems include a tiger, an oyster family, a snake, snow, and camels. The poems come in many forms. Some rhyme, while others do not, and you never know what the next page will bring.
   This is the perfect book to share with young readers who don’t realize that when it comes to poems, the sky is the limit. There are not rules about how they should look and sound, and they  can be playful, charming, amusing, and interesting.

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