Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Meal of the Stars: Poems Up and Down

A Meal of the Stars: Poems Up and Down

Dana Jensen
Illustrator:  Tricia Tusa 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012   ISBN: 978-0547390079

Reading from left to right is the norm in most English language books, but sometimes poets like to do something different. In The Mouse’s Tale, Lewis Carroll presents his poem in such a way that the text looks like a mouse’s tail that wiggles its way down the page. Other poets have also found creative ways to present their poems to their readers by creating pictures with their words. In this book, poet Dana Jensen gives her readers poems that have something to do with looking or going up or down, and the poems are presented to readers so that they have to read up or down the page.

   In the first poem we read single words up the page to find out that a little child thinks that perhaps a giraffe has such a long neck that it might be able to “make / a / meal / of / stars.” Further along in the book there is another poem that begins at the bottom of the page. We meet a child who has a string in its hand that goes “up / to / a / big / bright / blue” balloon. And then, at the top of the page, up there in the sky at the end of the string, something happens. 

   Then there are the poems that go down the page, one word at a time. In one of the poems we are sitting at the top of a Ferris wheel “at / its / highest / point.” From that vantage point we look down at the “carnival / world” below that is scene full of “moving / sounds / and / colors.” In another poem we experience the sound of church bells “that / float / down” to children and touch them “with / their / songs.”

   Throughout this book, beautifully lyrical and minimal poems that go up or down the pages are paired with Tricia Tusa’s whimsical illustrations to give readers a poetry experience that is altogether fresh and exciting.