Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems

Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems

Edited by Georgia Heard
For ages 7 to 10
Roaring Brook Press, 2009   ISBN: 978-1596432208

For many of us, lists help us to keep our busy lives organized. Without a list we don’t remember what to buy at the grocery store, or who to invite to a party. Typically, lists are not creative things, but poets have been using the list format for a long time to explore their fondness for words in new ways. For this collection, some wonderful poets (including Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis) have written thirty-two list poems that show to great effect “the wide variety of the list form.” The poems are presented in such as way that they give the reader a picture of the school year.

This journey begins with Eileen Spinelli’s poem “Good-byes,” in which she says goodbye to all those wonderful summer vacation things that make summer special and memorable. With school starting soon, we have to say goodbye to “splashing waves,” “matinees,” and “swooping gulls.”

Then there are all the things that are “On the menu for school today,” a list of school doings that will surely be familiar to many. Here are the planets that need to be labeled, the bells that need to be shaken, and seeds that need to be planted, and the words that need to be spelled.

Later still we find a list of all the places where one can read a book, and what a list it is too! It may seem ridiculously long at first, but as you read, you come to appreciate that every single one of these places is a perfect book reading place.

Don’t forget that school days would not be complete without a visit to the box where all the lost and found items are kept. Here you will find the things that someone somewhere “misses,” those little things that somehow get forgotten for a while. Here is the “poodle pin,” “a pair of gloves,” and even “One yellow boot.” Where is the other boot we wonder.

This delightful collection of poems will forever change the readers’ opinion of lists. It is true that shopping lists are usually boring, but clearly poem lists are quite the opposite. Young (and not so young) readers might even inspired to try writing a list poem of their own. If they do, there is a good chance that they will be surprised by the journey that they take as they play with words, mixing them up, saying them out aloud, and trying them out for size.