written by J. Patrick Lewis; illustrated by Mary Uhles
2016 (Kane Miller)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
I was calling my Aunt Nina
When I heard from Argentina
That she'd met a crocodile...
So I took her off speed dial
In celebration of National Telephone Day
I often get emails about "holidays" that are being celebrated in the near future. They usually annoy "get off my front lawn" me. Every day of the year is probably now claimed by some group wanting to hawk their product or cause. Fortunately, we have someone who can turn my pathetic grumpiness into a gigantic positive. J. Patrick Lewis has written 29 poems celebrating different holidays on the calendar. He starts with a poem honoring National Hat Day. The Names of Queen Nefertiti praises the queen and her magnificent chapeau. When Should We Meat? is a deliciously funny quatrain written in recognition of World Vegetarian Day. The illustration of sheep eating animal crackers alone is worth the price of the book. Want to glorify World Toilet Day? Lewis has a Joyce Kilmer parody that will leave your students in stitches and have them wanting to memorize poetry. Outhouses is a perfect example of why you need this book. Poetry can be portrayed as stuffy and high minded. Lewis brings it to the elementary masses and dares them to have fun both reading and writing poetry.
A variety of forms are presented so students will see that poetry can come in a lot of different colors and shapes. The humor is spot on. Your class will ask you to keep reading. How fun would it be to use these poems for fluency work and have a reader's theater? Another idea comes from the introduction. Young writers can be encouraged to create their own holiday and find a place on the calendar for it. Finally, I enjoyed seeing the different points of view in the illustrations. Sometimes it's a ground-level view while others take place from above. There's a great art lesson waiting to happen.
School used to be fun before this era of bubble, bubble in, toil, and test. Bring back some of that joy by introducing your class to Kooky Crumbs.