Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)
I won a giveaway of Too Many Friends, Kathryn Apel‘s latest novel in verse, from Robyn Hood Black (aka artsyletters) earlier this summer. Thanks, Robyn! I finally got to read it recently!
The main character Tahnee is the sweetest kid. At first, I worried, because I thought a character whose biggest wish was for all her friends to be friends sounded too good to be true. But, really, Tahnee’s just a kid like every kid. It’s just that the thing that stresses her out the most is other people not getting along.
Tahnee’s struggles feel real, and I was rooting for her to solve things–which she does, in a realistic manner. Great insight into the friendship issues kids face, and I love that a group project is part of the crucible for these issues. Oh, how my daughters (especially my older one) hated group projects, for so many reasons. Tahnee figures out ways to be a good friend not only to her classmates but also to distant kids she’s never met. But it never feels sappy, thanks to the humor, the dialog, and the imperfections of all involved. The world needs more kids like Tahnee–maybe you could introduce your kids to her?
We’re in the process of getting a new Little Free Library, and I can’t wait to put this book inside!
Like many novels in verse, this one reads more like brief poetic prose to me than actual standalone poems, but each bit is a delight! In this poem, I love the irony of the title when you read the quotation it’s taken from, and also the realism of the interactions. It’s also a good taste of how observant Tahnee is.
Michael the Bulldozer
It’s fiddly making
but it’s also fun
talking with friends
and laughing each time
a thick bundle of coiled snake
springs out of our hands
and unravels on the floor.
Vika made it look so easy!
“Keep a good hold,” Vika says,
laughing and shaking her head
as she retrieves Kody’s weaving.
“Here, try again.”
Michael says Kody’s palm snake
looks like it’s been run over
by a bulldozer.
that Kody’s palm snake
has more bumps and bends
but Kody was really trying hard…
until Michael tried to ‘help’.
throwing his unfinished snake into the bin.
It uncoils into two crimped lengths
of palm leaf.
“I don’t need to make a dumb snake,”
“Dad will buy me a real toy one
if I ask him.”
–Kathryn Apel, all rights reserved
And for lots of wonderful poetry, don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with Margaret at Reflections on the Teche!
Irene Latham says
Tahnee is a good kid, isn’t she? I like how you described her here… sometimes I have a difficult time describing a book and its characters… you just did for me what many a good poem can do: gave voice to what I knew but didn’t know I knew. 🙂 Thank you, Laura! xo
Thanks, Irene. I struggle with reviews. It’s hard to give any taste of the complexity of a well-developed character:>)
This sounds great, Laura. The verses you shared would be great fodder for some classroom discussion, perhaps prior to group work. Thanks for sharing!
The group work thread throughout the novel is awesome. So real.
Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff) says
This sounds like an amazing book–and the poem you shared from it speaks on so many levels.
I need to get this for my oldest granddaughter who worries about conflict in her classes. You’ve described this young girl Tahnee so well that I want more, and enjoyed how much we learned about the kids just in that one poem. Thanks, Laura, it’s on my list.
Group work is such a tricky thing, isn’t it? There’s so much to be gained from/through it – but there can be difficult/frustrating experiences along the way. Thank-you so much for sharing Tahnee and her friends on your blog – and in the Little Free Library! #delighted #thankful xx
I’ve been a little bit time and internet/data poor of late – think I’ve missed about a month of Poetry Friday!! I’m hoping to jump on board again next week.
Laura, thanks for sharing a part of Kat’s book and the quick review. Fiddly making is such a fun way to discuss group work – I love the way this piece unfolds.
I’m sure I’ve seen this book written about before, but it left my mind. I think I’ll pop over and put it in my cart right now. Thanks for sharing.
Donna Smith says
When and where I went to school in the elementary years up to grade 8, we only had one class of each grade. You stayed with the same kids for 8 years, and you got to know each other pretty well. You couldn’t stay mad or hold a grudge that long, and eventually everyone worked with everyone else every year. I think we need to go back to that. A fresh start each year only teaches you to move on when you are discontent instead of making that lemonade.
Sounds like a good book! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
Brenda Davis Harsham says
Sounds like a fantastic book. Little Free Libraries are sprouting up all around town. Love them.
Linda Mitchell says
Yes, I would LOVE to introduce my students to Tahnee. She sounds perfect for my middle school. And, I love the poem. It’s all too true…that when we try to “help” we often don’t. I want to hug Michael the Bulldozer as much as the palm snake maker.
I am so glad you felt that way, Linda – about hugging both Kody and Michael.
Michelle Kogan Illustration, Painting & Writing says
Thanks for reviewing and sharing Kats book, Laura. This problem of avoiding conflicts continues on with teenagers and adults, I think many could benefit from her book.
Wondering and Wandering says
I’m new to reading verse novels. I find I have to take few “running starts” to get into the rhythm. Just let my reading flow. Can wait to try this one out. Thanks!