This blog is a continuation of a class assignment for the TWU course 5603, Literature for Children and Young Adults. Subsequent entries are for TWU course 5653, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. The new entries are for TWU course 5663, Poetry for Children and Young Adults.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Kick in the Head by Paul B. Janeczko

A Kick in the Head
An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms
By Paul B. Janeczko
Illustrated by Chris Raschka

Cover image retrieved 4/21/13 from

Janeczko, Paul B. A Kick in the Head An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. Sommerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2005. ISBN 9780329702670

Critical Analysis
Oh me, oh my! Twenty-nine forms of poetry in one fresh, fun book. Paul Janeczko examines common and not so common formats, with definitions of the forms, an example poem for each, and imaginative illustrations by Chris Raschko that help the reader remember the special qualities of a poetic form. Why do poems have format rules to follow? In the introduction Janeczko addresses that query by stating that poems have rules, because that makes writing them more challenging and fun. He admits that not all poems follow the rules, which is perfectly acceptable. Poetry is, after all, a free expression of thoughts and ideas.

The collection assembled here is a fine assortment from noted poets, as well as a few lesser-known authors. They blend together in an anthology that is informative, as well as fun. Janeczko challenges the reader to discover new forms and enjoy old favorites. Each form has the featured poem prominently displayed on one or both pages of a two-page spread, with colorful illustrations adding to the sensory delight. An explanation of the poetic format is included in fine print on the page, to be read after the initial reading of the poem. This allows the reader to savor the words and arrangement of the poem, then to discover the reasoning and plan of the format. Formats are listed in the table of contents at the front of the book, and Notes on the Forms appear at the back for further explanation.

This anthology has such a varied collection, there is sure to be something for everyone. Fun, serious, rhyming, free scheme. Rich language and descriptive phrases entice the reader.  Delivery changes from one form to the next, which keeps the text lively and interesting. Even poem styles that a reader might not enjoy are easy to read when there is only one page of that format. Janeczko inspires the reader to try out at least one of the forms. With so many to choose from, even the reluctant reader or writer can find a form that is appealing. 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."

Book Reviews
Gillian Engberg (Booklist, Mar. 15, 2005 (Vol. 101, No. 14))
The creators of A Poke in the I (2001) offer another winning, picture-book poetry collaboration. Here, each poem represents a different poetic form, from the familiar to the more obscure. The excellent selection easily mixes works by Shakespeare and William Blake with entries from contemporary poets for youth, including Janeczko. Once again, Raschka's high-spirited, spare torn-paper-and-paint collages ingeniously broaden the poems' wide-ranging emotional tones.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005 (Vol. 73, No. 5))
Why, you may ask, does a poem have rules?" asks Janeczko in his introduction; "The answer is: rules make the writing of a poem more challenging, more exciting." He proceeds to present 29 different poetic types, from the mundane couplet and the deceptively easy haiku to the villanelle, epitaph and pantoum. 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.

Best Book Lists
Best Children's Books of the Year, 2005 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
Book Sense Children's Picks, Summer 2005 ; American Booksellers Association; United States
Booklist Book Review Stars , Mar. 15, 2005 ; American Library Association; United States
Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 2005 ; American Library Association; United States
Capitol Choices, 2006 ; The Capitol Choices Committee; United States
Children's Books 2005: One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2005 ; New York Public Library; United States
Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Children's Editor's Choice, 2005 ; Kirkus Reviews; United States
Choices, 2006 ; Cooperative Children’s Book Center; United States
Horn Book Fanfare, 2005 ; Horn Book; United States
Kirkus Best Children's Books , 2005 ; Kirkus Reviews; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, March 1, 2005 ; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 2006 ; NCTE Children's Literature Assembly; United States
Notable Children's Books, 2006 ; ALSC American Library Association; United States
Publishers Weekly Best Children's Books, 2005 ; Publishers Weekly; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, March 14, 2005 ; Cahners; United States
School Library Journal Best Books, 2005 ; Cahners; United States
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, March 2005 ; Cahners; United States

Book Awards
Claudia Lewis Award, 2006 Winner United States
Lupine Award, 2005 Winner Picture Book Maine
Parents' Choice Award, 2005 Gold Picture Books United States

Poetry Break!
Spotlight Poem
Slug File
By Avis Harley

                             Home Address:
                                    “Shady Lawn”

Working Hours:
       dusk ‘til dawn

       likes to climb

Special Skills:
       making slime

       midnight thief

Favorite Food:
       salad leaf

Color Choice:
       veggie green

Height and Weight:
       long and lean

Next of kin:
       Mollusc clan 


Learning Extensions
·      Invite students to listen to the poem, trying to guess who might have made this list.
·      Share the poem orally, while students listen for verbal clues to help them identify the “author” of this poem.

·      Invite student discussion of who might have made this list. If students do not come up with the correct “author,” give a multiple choice list of possibilities: a) goat   b) slug   c) dog   d) snake
·      Ask students to share the words or phrases that helped them figure out who the ‘author” is.
·      Display the poem via document camera, or distribute a copy to each student. Read the poem chorally as a group, with the boys reading the first line of each stanza and the girls reading the second line. re-read the poem chorally, alternating reader groups.
·      Allow students to try their hand at a poem list, first creating a list of characteristics of a person, place, thing, or idea. Then students will group the characteristics into similar categories and formulating a heading for it. Encourage students to arrange their poem into stanzas that could rhyme, if they desire.

Other Books by Paul B. Janeczko:
Author’s website:

A Kick in the Head
An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms
A Poke in the I (2001)
A Collection of Concrete Poems
Birds on a Wire
Blushing: Expressions Of Love In Poems And Letters (Blushing) (2004)
Brickyard Summer (1989)
Bridges to Cross, a novel (1986)
Dirty Laundry Pile        
Poems in Different Voices
Going Over to Your Place
Good for a Laugh: A Guide to Writing Amusing, Clever, and Downright Funny Poems
Hey, You!: Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes, and Other Fun Things
Home on the Range: Cowboy Poetry (1997)
How To Write Almost Anything (Scholastic Guides)
How to Write Haiku and Other Short Poems
How To Write Poetry Scholastic Guides (1999)
Loads of Codes and Secret Ciphers (1984)
Looking for Your Name: A Collection of Contemporary Poems
Opening a Door: Reading Poetry in the Middle School Classroom
Pocket Poems
Poetry From A to Z : A Guide for Young Writers
Postcard poems: A collection of poetry for sharing
Preposterous: Poems of Youth
Reading Poetry in the Middle Grades: 20 Poems and Activities That Meet the Common Core Standards and Cultivate a Passion for Poetry
Seeing the Blue Between (2002)
Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets
Stardust Hotel
Stone Bench in an Empty Park
Strings : a gathering of family poems
That Sweet Diamond Baseball Poems (1998)
The Music of What Happens: Poems That Tell Stories
The Place My Words Are Looking For
This Delicious Day
Top Secret (2004)
A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing
Very Best (almost) Friends (1999)
Wherever Home Begins: 100 Contemporary Poems (1995)
Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku
Worlds Afire (2004)

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