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Reviewed by:
  • Keep a Pocket in Your Poem: Classic Poems and Playful Parodies by J. Patrick Lewis
  • Deborah Stevenson, Editor
Lewis, J. Patrick Keep a Pocket in Your Poem: Classic Poems and Playful Parodies; illus. by Johanna Wright. Wordsong/Highlights, 2017 32p
ISBN 978-1-59078-921-6 $17.95 R Gr. 2-5

In this unusual collection, former children’s poet laureate Lewis takes thirteen poems, some very well known, and pairs them with his own verses that echo and respond to the originals. While only some of those responses are genuinely parodic (Lewis follows Rose Fyleman’s “I think mice/Are rather nice” with “I think rats/Are really brats” and Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” with “Stopping by Fridge on a Hungry Evening”), they’re all thought-provoking in their conversation with a prior work. Tennyson’s “The Eagle” inspires a less noble but still respect-worthy subject in “The Firefly,” Sandburg’s “Fog” logically elicits a verse about hail (“The hail flies/on furious hooves”); Issa’s spare lines about a toad occasion an imagistic description of a tiger. Throughout, Lewis is scrupulous in his fidelity to structure and theme of the originals, so the pairs balance effectively, and his new offerings also stand alone. The acrylic and ink illustrations have a childlike vigor in their naïve draftsmanship and a touch of the sweetly fantastical in the misty colors and creative details; Wright also neatly provides continuity between each pair of poems (always facing each other in a single spread). While the title will certainly inspire poetic mimicry of its own, it’s also just an intriguing collection of verse to enjoy and consider. A table of contents is included. [End Page 272]



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