This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness
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This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness

by Joyce Sidman
     
 

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When Mrs. Merz asks her sixth grade class to write poems of apology, they end up liking their poems so much that they decide to put them together into a book. Not only that, but they get the people to whom they apologized to write poems back.

In haiku, pantoums, two-part poems, snippets, and rhymes, Mrs. Merz’s class writes of crushes, overbearing parents

Overview


When Mrs. Merz asks her sixth grade class to write poems of apology, they end up liking their poems so much that they decide to put them together into a book. Not only that, but they get the people to whom they apologized to write poems back.

In haiku, pantoums, two-part poems, snippets, and rhymes, Mrs. Merz’s class writes of crushes, overbearing parents, loving and losing pets, and more. Some poets are deeply sorry; some not at all. Some are forgiven; some are not. In each pair of poems a relationship, a connection, is revealed.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

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.
Kirkus Reviews

The poems successfully navigate the complicated terrain for those who seek forgiveness.
Publishers Weekly

"Sidman's collection could help young poets express themselves and learn from their mistakes." Book Links January 2008 Book Links, ALA

"Delicate, mixed-media illustrations...add touches of whimsy and wit to these delightful missives." SLJ December 2007 School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

Sidman (Song of the Waterboatman and Other Pond Poems) explains, via an introduction from one of the book's sixth-grade characters, that the poems contained in this often humorous and touching anthology were inspired by the title poem of apology, which was penned by William Carlos Williams. The student in Mrs. Merz's class who introduces the book explains that some of the students received answers to their "sorry" poems. One pair of poems shares a spread and addresses a dodge ball exchange ("Sorry/ Reubs,/ for belting you/ as hard/ as I could/ in dodge ball/ I'd like/ to say/ I wouldn't/ do it again/ but I'd/ be lying"). But for most entries, unfortunately, in order to read the call-and-response in succession, readers must awkwardly flip from the first half of the book ("Apologies") to the second ("Responses"). Yet the poems successfully navigate the complicated terrain for those who seek forgiveness. In one especially moving poem, "The Black Spot," Alyssa tells her sister Carrie that the black spot of lead on Carrie's arm makes manifest the "nugget of darkness" within Alyssa that propelled her to injure her sibling (Carrie's response conveys her enduring anger at Alyssa). Zagarenski's (Mites to Mastodons) inventive mixed-media illustrations brim with items found in a classroom: a dictionary entry on "apology," for instance, becomes part of a student's clothing, and white hole reinforcements resemble a character's stolen doughnuts. But the book's odd organization seems a missed opportunity to tie the well-wrought, corresponding poems together and reinforce the complex relationships between the characters. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Danielle Williams
Inspired by the poem "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams, a teacher assigns her students the task of writing poems of apology for actions they have taken and encourages recipients of the poems to write poems of response. Written by a fictional sixth grade class, each poem manages to convey an intense emotion, whether the joy of being the "dodge ball kings" or sadness at not meeting a parent's expectation. The poems of forgiveness are equally evocative and answer each apology poem in turn. While it is disappointing to realize that the authors of the poems are fictional, each poem still feels as if it were written by a child, expressing dismay at hurting a teacher's feelings or admiration to an older sibling who seems so much cooler than the author. The illustrations are reminiscent of drawings and doodles of children and manage to suggest that children had a direct hand in writing and illustrating the poems in the book.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-7 - Mrs. Merz assigns her sixth-grade students to write poems of apology, and what emerges is a surprising array of emotions, poetic forms, and subjects from dead pets and biting hamsters to angry siblings and betrayal of trust. The children decide to create their own book of these poems, complete with an introduction and occasional notes by editor Anthony K. Fast-talking Thomas writes a humorous poem patterned after William Carlos Williams's "This Is Just to Say," apologizing to Mrs. Garcia in the office, for stealing the jelly donuts in the teachers' lounge: "Forgive me/they were delicious/so sweet/and so gloppy." Mrs. Garcia's response poem says, "Of course I forgive you./But I still have to call your mother." A more serious concern emerges in "Next Time," written by Jewel: "Please, please come back./Don't leave me spinning alone,/like a slow, sad tornado./I'm sorry, Daddy./Next time I'll be/perfect." In the response poem, Jewel describes her father's wrenching reply telling her that, "None of the stupid things/I have ever done/are even close to being your fault." Sidman's ear is keen, capturing many voices. 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.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Providing a surprisingly effective story arc, this series of poems was inspired by William Carlos Williams's famous poem of the same title regarding a theft of plums. Anthony, one of the students in Mrs. Merz's class, becomes the editor because it was his idea to make the poems into a book and to include any responses they get to their apologies. There's a range of topics and ability in the poems, from the "Roses are red / Violets are blue / I'm still really / pissed off at you" in the response section to the difficult form of a pantoum in "Spelling Bomb." A collage-like look to the illustrations captures the child-like quality in sprightly compositions, but the conceit that these are the artwork of one of the students doesn't quite ring true. At one point, Anthony claims to have edited for language, but other poems have some words that are realistically uncensored. Despite a slight uneven quality or perhaps because of it, the whole is far more captivating than expected. 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. (Poetry. 8-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618616800
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/09/2007
Pages:
48
Sales rank:
1,326,445
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
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.
Kirkus Reviews

The poems successfully navigate the complicated terrain for those who seek forgiveness.
Publishers Weekly

"Sidman's collection could help young poets express themselves and learn from their mistakes." Book Links January 2008 Book Links, ALA

"Delicate, mixed-media illustrations...add touches of whimsy and wit to these delightful missives." SLJ December 2007 School Library Journal

Meet the Author

The Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman is today's foremost nature poet for children.  Accolades for her books include two Caldecott Honors, a Lee Bennet Hopkins Award, winner of the Claudia Lews Award, and many stars and best of lists.  For her award-winning body of work, she won the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. She lives in Wayzata, Minnesota. Visit www.joycesidman.com
 
 

Pamela Zagarenski is the winner of two Caldecott Honors.  The books she has illustrated have also been Booklist Editor's Choices, Horn Book Fanfare and Bulletin Blue Ribbon books, winners of Bank Street's Claudia Lewis Award, and translated into many languages.  As well as illustrating picture books, she creates paintings and has a gift card line.  She lives in Connecticut.  Visit www.pzagarenski.com.

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