Follow that Word

Hachette. Nov. 2022. 164p. pap. $13.99. ISBN 9781444964974.
Gr 10 Up–This lengthy collection of poems is a mixed bag. The foreword indicates that it was created to highlight words and their meanings—for example, why a hurricane is called a hurricane. The collection includes references to Greek myths, Biblical phrases, historical figures and events, and everything in between. Some of the poems are light and silly, clever, and fun to read: “A Brief Encounter” is about being open-minded when meeting an alien, and “Mind, What Exactly Are You?” encourages older readers to think deeply about their ideas. Many are serious, and a few include references to guns and killing, such as the poem “Smart Bombs.” Unfortunately, the vast majority of these poems lack young reader appeal. While the author can connect the large assortment of topics, students will not be able to relate to many of them. For instance, “Hercules Senior and Hercules Junior” is an almost ten-page poem with fantastic illustrations in an ancient Greek style, but students may not catch all the details or stay with the poem to the end. The poem “Coffin,” about the inventor of the coffin, just raises eyebrows. Though some of the poems are thought-provoking and carry ideas and feelings, few will appeal to a middle to high school audience. Lovely illustrations that appear to be pen-and-ink drawings are realistic, clever, whimsical, and detailed; however, they are not enough to warrant purchase of the book.
VERDICT A mixed bag of poetry with very few gems worth keeping. Not recommended.

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