This is Just to Say by Joyce Sidman, Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski – review for TWU course

BIBLIOGRAPHY Sidman, Joyce. 2007. THIS IS JUST TO SAY: POEMS OF APOLOGY AND FORGIVENESS. Ill. by Pamela Zagarenski. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 9780618616800.

PLOT SUMMARY
Mrs. Merz gives her class an assignment to write poems apologizing.  The sixth graders like the assignment so much, they assemble them in book form and ask those to whom they apologized to write a note of forgiveness back, also included in the book.


CRITICAL ANALYSIS

A very original concept, many forms of poetry are in this book, which makes it enjoyable to read as it is not repetitive.  There is even a pantoum which I had never before heard of.  The apologies and forgiveness notes range from things the kids are not really sorry for to deep, heartfelt and moving.  The illustrations are done a mixture of mediums it looks like, collage, pen and ink, water color.  Each page is a different color, leaving the words as focus, the pictures adding to them but not the main draw of the book by any means.  Often, the abundance of empty space give impact to the sparse amount of words on the page.

I very much enjoyed this book of poetry.  From simple rhymes like roses are red to haiku to pantoums, it covered a wide variety of styles.  I found the illustrations very appealing personally, and they added to the poetry, complimenting it rather than being a focus in themselves.  As I read I found myself laughing at time, my heart aching at times, and occasionally commenting out loud at the way the words portrayed emotion.  This book has helped cement in me that poetry can relay quite a lot of emotion or meaning in few words.

REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee 2007 

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL:   “Her skill as a poet accessible to young people is unmatched. Zagarenski’s delicately outlined collage drawings and paintings are created on mixed backgrounds–notebook paper, paper bags, newspaper, graph paper, school supplies. This is an important book both for its creativity and for its wisdom.

KIRKUS REVIEWS:  “Packed with the intensity of everyday pain and sorrow, kids and adults exchange the words that convey grief, delight, love and acceptance of themselves and others.

CONNECTIONS

For an opening unit on Poetry this would be incredible simply for the examples of all the different types there are.  It also could be used as a springboard in a writing lesson on either poetry or letters (a lost art).


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