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Ode to a Commode


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About the Author

Brian P. Cleary is the author of the Words Are CATegorical(R), Math Is CATegorical(R), Food Is CATegorical(TM), and Animal Groups Are CATegorical(TM) series, as well as several picture books. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio. While studying for a degree in Manchester, Andy Rowland accepted his first drawing award, the MacMillan Children's Book Prize. Years later, he has more than twenty published books to his name. He lives in England.


"In Cleary's concrete poems, words swirl around a toilet as water, explode into the sky as fireworks, or form the frames and lenses of glasses. This book helpfully starts by explaining what, exactly, a concrete poem is and provides some kickoff suggestions for aspiring poets. Cleary's collection of poems range between quietly clever to laugh-out-loud funny. Children will likely love turning the book from side to side to read the poems as they twist around the page. The humorous illustrations are bright and colorful, and the variable fonts draw the eye. Though some nit-picky kids might feel slighted that not every poem is about the porcelain throne, the poems are short and fun enough to charm even the most ardent enemy of poetry, and children will likely walk away feeling inspired to make their own concrete poems in the most creative of shapes. Recommended for both school and public libraries." Booklist


"In this second Poetry Adventures outing, poet Cleary and illustrator Rowland (If It Rains Pancakes: Haiku and Lantern Poems, 2014) again team up to explore a poetic form well suited for young readers. A concrete poem, explains Cleary in his introduction to the pint-sized collection, 'takes on the shape of whatever it is about, ' with the topic 'always an object (instead of a feeling or an idea)'; the poem's 'letters, words, or symbols are arranged on the page to form a picture of that object.' More staid attempts at concrete verse tend to rely on standard typefaces and creative spacing to form poems' shapes, but here, Cleary's 24 light subjects are aided mightily by Rowland's intricately detailed hand-lettering and charming illustrations. The laments of a last piece of Halloween candy--'The caramel treats have been enjoyed, the nutty chocolate savored, / but no one wants a candy bar that's 'Tuna Salad' flavored'--are laid out on what looks like a Kit Kat. A globe comprising balloon-shaped letters is positively buoyant: 'orange / or blue and / full of helium / floating up / to reach the / ceili-um / string string string string string string.' A pretzel-shaped poem is set in letters that look as if they were drawn in mustard. Signature silliness from Cleary and Rowland abounds in this children's celebration of concrete poetry." --Kirkus Reviews


"This fun and quirky collection begins with a one-page description of concrete poems, or poems about a particular object that are also laid out in the shape of that object. Readers are encouraged to write a poem before crafting it into a shape. The second page gives children a starter list of potential subjects, while the rest of the book contains examples of concrete poetry. Cleary has penned creative verses, some of which use letters to represent specific shapes. For instance, in 'Best Fishes, ' the 'O' in the word 'trout' resembles a fish's eye, and in 'An Invitation, ' the letters 'O' and 'J' look like Christmas tree ornaments. Although the description at the beginning of the book says that concrete poems don't have to rhyme, most of the examples here do. Bright, cartoon illustrations enliven the text. Readers who pick up this title hoping for poems about toilets may be disappointed to find that only the opening entry addresses that subject matter. However, this is a solid book of poetry with a variety of enjoyable examples to inspire readers' own efforts." --School Library Journal


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