Behind The Wheel: Driving Poems

Behind The Wheel: Driving Poems

by Janet S. Wong
     
 

Forget kindergarten,

sharing.

Everything you need to know

you learn right here

behind the wheel.

So begins the title poem of this collection for young adults in which Janet S. Wong looks at driving as a metaphor for life. Through thirty-six poems that range in subject from passing the written driver's test and borrowing a car, to parallel parking

Overview

Forget kindergarten,

sharing.

Everything you need to know

you learn right here

behind the wheel.

So begins the title poem of this collection for young adults in which Janet S. Wong looks at driving as a metaphor for life. Through thirty-six poems that range in subject from passing the written driver's test and borrowing a car, to parallel parking and being pulled over by a cop, to car accidents and parents' anxieties, the poet succeeds in touching on all the subjects of concern to young people — love, death, hopes and dreams.

Contemporary, honest, and direct, these poems offer a fresh approach to a subject of deep interest to today's young people.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA
In her fourth book of poetry, Wong writes for soontobe driving teens in thirtysix free verse poems that describe this American rite of passage. Told through different voices, most have the sound perhaps of an older cousin or siblingsomeone close but not so close that the trappings of rivalry or jealousy get in the way of hearing sound advice. With keen intensity, Wong tackles every imaginable topic related to drivingbackseat romances, whiteknuckled grandmothers, dead batteries, car seats, speeding tickets, and even antilock brakes and how to use them. At the heart of these poems are the heartbreaks, hopes, and dreams of the adolescent, as in these lines from the title poem: "Forget kindergarten / Sharing. / Everything you need to know / you learn right here / behind the wheel. / Watch out for the other guy. / Keep your eye on your rear. / Thank the lady who lets you in. / Don't steal someone else's spot. / When you rush to park and end up hopeless, crooked/ just start over." By turns cautionary and carefree, biting and affectionate, Behind the Wheel imagines an exciting driving life. After reading this slim volume, teens will not look at driving or poetry in the same way again. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 1999, McElderry/S & S, Ages 13 to 18, 48p, $15. Reviewer: Cynthia Grady
Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Wong presents driving as a metaphor for life. She makes the rather obvious analogy in the poem "Behind the Wheel": "Everything you need to know/you learn right here/behind the wheel./Watch out for the other guy./Keep your eye on your rear./Thank the old lady who lets you in./Don't steal someone else's spot./When you rush to park and end up hopeless, crooked-/just start over." Many of the poems are simply memories of driving-related events, e.g., taking grandma to the store, a first hitchhiking attempt, and dreaming of luxury cars at the auto show. These glimpses are a bit distant, not really enticing readers to slip inside the memories. The metaphors continue throughout the book, often becoming tiresome. In "Restraint," parents are compared first to seat belts, and then to airbags: "...when you mess up-WOOOMPH!-/they're there, like air bags,/in your face." There is the obligatory, somewhat preachy poem about drunk driving, a little too light to have much impact. Not entirely convincing, these poems don't succeed as extended views of life.-Sharon Korbeck, Waupaca Area Public Library, WI Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689825316
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
10/28/1999
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Behind the Wheel

Forget kindergarten,

sharing.

Everything you need to know

you learn right here

behind the wheel.

Watch out for the other guy.

Keep your eye on your rear.

Thank the old lady who lets you in.

Don't steal someone else's spot.

When you rush to park and end up hopeless, crooked —

just start over.

Copyright © 1999 by Janet S. Wong

Insurance

You need insurance.

You need insurance.

You need insurance.

Can I say it enough?

You're careful.

You're careful.

I know you're careful.

I don't care

how careful you are.

It's those other crazy cars.

What do you do when

a Porsche cuts in front

and you slam on the brakes

(which were never that good),

buckle his back,

buckle your hood,

and the guy gets out

in a fancy suit

and he's fuming mad

and you're madder yet —

The nerve of the jerk!

You're ready to fight

and he whips out his card.

A lawyer.

Oh no.

And the veins in his neck

are starting to show —

You need insurance.

You need insurance.

You need insurance.

Got it?

Copyright © 1999 by Janet S. Wong

Meet the Author


Janet S. Wong is the author of more than a dozen picture books and poetry collections. Her work includes Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book, and Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions, both illustrated by Julie Paschkis, as well as Grump, a Charlotte Zolotow Award Highly Commended Book, illustrated by John Wallace. Janet lives with her family in Medina, Washington.

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