Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems

48p. Roaring Brook. Mar. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722361.
RedReviewStarGr 3–6—At the start of this collection, Raczka notes that he likes to think of poems as "word paintings," and he demonstrates this philosophy to marvelous effect. In each of his 21 concrete poems, he groups the words in a shape that complements or emphasizes the meaning or central concept. Raczka goes even further, playfully arranging the letters in the one-word titles of his poems as well. Even the table of contents is constructed to resemble a table. The result is a fun and clever collection that is sure to inspire young poets. While short, the poems are by turns amusing and thoughtful and make excellent use of figurative language devices. A selection about the Big Dipper includes a metaphor that describes the constellation as "a vessel of stars, my brim overflowing with night." Another offering depicts a thunderstorm as "a cloud tantrum." A few layouts may test some readers, such as one about a home run in which one whole line is printed backward, but most students will enjoy the challenge.
VERDICT This winning assortment should find a place in most libraries.

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