Welcome to YADA-YADA!

In pop culture, YADA-YADA usually means "blah, blah, blah" or "more of the same." For this blog, YADA-YADA is an acronym meaning "Young Adult Discussions About Young Adult-Designed Art." Check out my summaries and reviews of teen media. Chime in and let me know what you think!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blog No. 43- Think Again by JonArno Lawson

GENRE: Poetry
Title: Think Again
Author: JonArno Lawson
Illustrations: Julie Morstad

Bibliographic Information:
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Kids Can Press, Ltd. (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1554534232
ISBN-13: 978-1554534234


Reader’s Annotation:
Simple rhyming poems describe the scariness and fleeting nature of a first love. Line drawings are included that complement the works.

Plot Summary:
This short collection of rhymes and their corresponding line drawings are little bits of wisdom that the younger high school student and the older middle school students will probably enjoy—especially girls up to about age 14. These very short, four-line poems describe the uncertainties and frustrations, as well as the joys, or friendship, and especially the scary but thrilling thing called “first love.”

Most of the rhymes are pretty basic, but there is one or two that stand out, like the one called “Differences.” It goes like this:

“You say:
‘I accept our differences’
And offer me your hand.
But it’s what we have in common
That I can’t stand.” (Lawson).

The little twist abut the things in common is what makes this one of the more memorable poems in the book.

Critical Evaluation:
I know something about poetry. And to me, this isn’t poetry. It’s rhyme. And not the best rhyme, either.

There are some whimsical ideas going on here, but for this to be on the Junior Library Guild Selection astounds me. At my high school, we only order the high school level materials, yet this book was on that level. Having taught poetry for years as an Artist-in-Residence for the State of California, I am quite surprised that any publisher would actually call this poetry. Verse perhaps, or better yet, rhyme. To me, the best poetry doesn’t rhyme, or, if it does, it doesn’t “cheat” like Lawson seems to do in many of his poems. Here’s an example of what I mean by cheating: “I’m up for grabs/But you would never grab/You hold me knowing that I can’t be held/And knowing that to hold is not to have. Well, last I looked, grabs does not rhyme with have. It is assonance, perhaps, but this models poor rhyme to students, and frankly, it bothers me. Lawson also uses duplicate words to rhyme instead of being more creative—in a four-line poem, using “it” to rhyme with “it” is just—well, its not cool.

One or two poems were fun and made me chuckle, but to call this poetry? It might be rhyme, it may be verse, but to me, poetry is about images, and there is not one in the bunch.

Reading level/Interest Age:
Shockingly, this came in the high school selection from Junior Library Guild, recommended for 9-12 grades! This might work for ELL students, who need very basic phonics skills, but for the general high school population? I think it’s too “dumbed down.”

Information about the Author:
JonArno Lawson is a Canadian “poet” who lives in Toronto with his wife and children. Largely a children’s book writer (you think?) Lawson also wrote Black Stars in a White Night Sky, which won the Lion and Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American poetry in 2007.

Lawson has also published two books of poetry for adults, and has written nonfiction chapters about the Chechen people. He has edited several poetry anthologies in Canada.

Curriculum Ties:
None, unless a teacher wants to show how NOT to write poetry.

Challenge Issues:

Why I Included This Book:
It came in the JLG stack today and I read it. I don’t have to be positive about every book I read, do I? I really can't imagine anyone at my high school library liking this book.

Cover image courtesy of:

No comments:

Post a Comment