Sidman (Song of the Waterboatman and Other Pond Poems ) explains, via an introduction from one of the book's sixth-grade characters, that the poems contained in this often humorous and touching anthology were inspired by the title poem of apology, which was penned by William Carlos Williams. The student in Mrs. Merz's class who introduces the book explains that some of the students received answers to their "sorry" poems. One pair of poems shares a spread and addresses a dodge ball exchange ("Sorry/ Reubs,/ for belting you/ as hard/ as I could/ in dodge ball/ I'd like/ to say/ I wouldn't/ do it again/ but I'd/ be lying"). But for most entries, unfortunately, in order to read the call-and-response in succession, readers must awkwardly flip from the first half of the book ("Apologies") to the second ("Responses"). Yet the poems successfully navigate the complicated terrain for those who seek forgiveness. In one especially moving poem, "The Black Spot," Alyssa tells her sister Carrie that the black spot of lead on Carrie's arm makes manifest the "nugget of darkness" within Alyssa that propelled her to injure her sibling (Carrie's response conveys her enduring anger at Alyssa). Zagarenski's (Mites to Mastodons ) inventive mixed-media illustrations brim with items found in a classroom: a dictionary entry on "apology," for instance, becomes part of a student's clothing, and white hole reinforcements resemble a character's stolen doughnuts. But the book's odd organization seems a missed opportunity to tie the well-wrought, corresponding poems together and reinforce the complex relationships between the characters. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)[Page 61]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-7 -Mrs. Merz assigns her sixth-grade students to write poems of apology, and what emerges is a surprising array of emotions, poetic forms, and subjects from dead pets and biting hamsters to angry siblings and betrayal of trust. The children decide to create their own book of these poems, complete with an introduction and occasional notes by editor Anthony K. Fast-talking Thomas writes a humorous poem patterned after William Carlos Williams's "This Is Just to Say," apologizing to Mrs. Garcia in the office, for stealing the jelly donuts in the teachers' lounge: "Forgive me/they were delicious/so sweet/and so gloppy." Mrs. Garcia's response poem says, "Of course I forgive you./But I still have to call your mother." A more serious concern emerges in "Next Time," written by Jewel: "Please, please come back./Don't leave me spinning alone,/like a slow, sad tornado./I'm sorry, Daddy./Next time I'll be/perfect." In the response poem, Jewel describes her father's wrenching reply telling her that, "None of the stupid things/I have ever done/are even close to being your fault." Sidman's ear is keen, capturing many voices. Her skill as a poet accessible to young people is unmatched. Zagarenski's delicately outlined collage drawings and paintings are created on mixed backgrounds-notebook paper, paper bags, newspaper, graph paper, school supplies. This is an important book both for its creativity and for its wisdom.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI[Page 162]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.