Filled with shape poems in objects such as guitars, cheerleaders, or even a bad-hair day, the author tries to paint a picture of teenage Jessie as a strongly opinioned girl, finding her way in the world. From "Mondrian," when Jessie and her dad go to the Art Institute, in the shape of a frame with words outside of the frame: "Dad said, 'It's not easy to be creative.' And I thought to myself, 'You wouldn't believe how creative I have to be just to get through the day.' He said, 'It's tough being an artist. You've got to struggle for years. People often misunderstand your work . . . And in many ways you're really alone.' And I said, 'It sounds like high school.'" Some poems genuinely sound like something a teenage girl would write. Others sound a bit forced and out of touch: "My new tattoo. It says, 'Sex, Drugs, & Rock 'n' Roll' in spiky goth letters." Some of the shape poems fit more than others as well, such as "Allergic to Time" in an hourglass shape. Others seem to require a lot of eye gymnastics, which is more effort than some readers might want to exert for not getting a whole lot back. Teens might be enticed to pick up the book with its cover in the shape of a mirror poem with a shimmery silver background, but they will likely be disappointed that the voice wavers between authentic and adult-speak throughout.
Grandits crafts his collections with the needs of poetry-phobic readers in mind. It isn't even necessary to crack the book, since the first poem, "Blue Lipstick," is cleverly placed on the front cover, surrounding a reflective mirror. This selection introduces readers to Jessie, who impulsively purchases blue lipstick, but later, regretfully decides to give it "the kiss-off." Jessie is big sister to Robert, who was featured in Grandits's Technically, It's Not My Fault (Clarion, 2004). As he did in that terrific collection, the author uses artful arrangements of text on the page, along with 54 different typefaces, to bring his images and ideas to life. Jessie's a typical ninth grader who spends much of her time squabbling with her brother; doesn't always see eye-to-eye with her parents; and is preoccupied with clothes, makeup, and dealing with bad-hair days. She confides early on that life is simpler when you build a wall around yourself, as "You've got to be careful who you make friends with." Jessie writes poems to her cat, believes in guardian angels, and though she's quick to form strong opinions, she's smart enough to revise them, too. In the end, she's still got her wall, but she realizes "now I've got more company." This irreverent, witty collection should resonate with a wide audience.
Marilyn TaniguchiCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
After suffering indignities at the pen of little brother Robert (Technically, It's Not My Fault, 2004), big sister Jessie gets her chance. In full adolescent voice, she talks of the disastrous day she dyed her hair blue, the misery of pep rallies, the futility of talking to grownups and the path of a secret. As in the previous volume, the poems are shaped by their subjects, so in "The Bowling Party," the reader gets a bird's-eye view of Jessie's shots-a gutter ball, a fader, a feeble dribble and a strike in the neighboring alley. In "Go Look in the Mirror!" the words appear in reverse against an oval of blue as Jessie contemplates her appearance before going out. "All My Important Thinking Gets Done in the Shower," possibly the best selection, features gentle streams of blue words emerging from a showerhead, each forming a sentence completely unrelated to the one next to it. Although Jessie's progress through the year is far from smooth, she learns a few things about friends, boyfriends and cheerleaders. Necessarily lacking the startling originality of its predecessor, this is nevertheless a playfully worthy companion. (Poetry. 10+)
"This irreverent, witty collection should resonate with a wide audience." School Library Journal, Starred
"After suffering indignities at the pen of ... Robert (TECHNICALLY, IT'S NOT MY FAULT, 2004), big sister Jessie gets her chance." Kirkus Reviews
"A cover that'll grab adolescent girls' attentionand the poetry inside is equally appealing." Horn Book
"Friendly and accessible ... it will undoubtedly inspire a multitude of curricular uses." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books