Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

I must go down to the beach again and other poems

I must go down to the beach again and other poems

Karen Jo Shapiro
Illustrator:  Judy Love 
For ages 9 to 12
Charlesbridge, 2007   ISBN: 978-1580891448

There are all kinds of fabulous poems out there written by famous poets, poems which touch our hearts, which make us think, and which give is cause to pause. In this unique collection Karen Jo Shapiro has taken twenty-three of these poems and she has changed them quite considerably. In truth they are parodies, but they are meant in good fun and they "spring from deep respect." In many instances Karen Jo Shapiro"s versions are quite silly though some are more contemplative and are gentle on the funny bone.

Karen Jo Shapiro takes her inspiration from everyone from Emily Dickinson to Lord Byron, and from William Shakespeare to Robert Louis Stevenson. Many of her poems are about subjects which children will instantly find appealing. There is the one about the child who feels he simply "must go down to the beach again, where there"s water, sand, and sky." Surely any child who has fallen in love with days at the beach will recognize this sentiment. Then there is the poem about "This Rotten Lousy Flu." Again most children will have no difficulty appreciating the images that this poem conjures up; the way "our heads are hot and sticky" and the way "we"re feeling kind of blue." With the wonderful rhythms from Lord Byron"s "So We"ll Go No More A-Roving" Karen Jo Shapiro creates a delightful rhyming tale of woe.

At the back of the book, the author of this special collection has written some interesting notes about the poems and the poets which she has parodied. In many instances her notes are very personal and it is interesting to find out why she chose the poems that she did, and why she chose to parody them in the way that she did.

Amusing black and white pen and ink illustrations are found throughout the book.