Where Do Wishes Go?: Poems

Otter-Barry. Aug. 2022. 96p. pap. $13.99. ISBN 9781913074395.
Gr 1-3–This collection of 60 short poems covers familiar topics, including school, family, and the joys of nature. Most are lighthearted and upbeat. In “Creature Baby!,” a child playfully imagines a variety of creatures inside a pregnant mother’s oversized stomach. In another poem, a child welcomes “Sleepover Gran,” who arrives with a bag of “stickiest sweets…Mum never lets me eat.” There are a few word puzzles, examples of haiku and cinquain, and a few somber poems. “Grandad’s Leaving Home,” for example, finds his grandchild with unanswerable questions following his death. In “Looking After Mum,” a child tersely handles morning chores for a bedridden mother, along with feeding and dressing a little sister before arriving late to school to face classmates’ stares. Some British words and phrases will need explanation; “poetry potty,” for instance, refers to a group of poetry-loving teachers and students. With few exceptions, most poems lack memorable imagery or read-aloud appeal. In “Moving On,” a child missing her old home is met with trite assurances: “It’s tears of love and laughter/ that make a house a home.” In “New Boy,” each stanza starts with, “I have come from another land,” and follows with singsong observations: “I’m learning your language,/ Learning to smile/ New friends are teaching me how.”
VERDICT This insipid and uneven collection falls short as an introduction to poetry for primary grade audiences.

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