Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Outside the Box

Outside the Box

Karma Wilson
Illustrator:   Diane Goode 
Poetry Book
For ages 7 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2014   ISBN: 978-1416980056

From the outside, a big box can look quite appealing. One might think that the dark, cozy interior would serve as a splendid “thinking spot.” It is only when one is inside the box that one realizes that the inside of a box - where one does not experience sounds, sights, light, colors, and the beauty of the outdoors - does not provide an environment that encourages thoughts or creativity. It is only when we are outside the box that thoughts, ideas, images, and stories start to flow.

   In this collection of poems author and poet Karma Wilson lets her imagination roam where it will. She truly thinks outside the box, and as a result we are gifted with a colorful, delightful, often funny, and always interesting collection of poems.

   Soon after we begin our journey through the book we meet a child who has been told to write a poem about a tragedy. Not being able to come up “a single line or verse” the child decides to write a tragic poem about how the child “couldn’t write a poem / about a tragedy.”

   Later on in the book we meet the “Boogie Man.” Now everyone knows that the boogie man is a terrifying and dangerous creature or apparition. He is someone who should be avoided at all costs. Or maybe not. He might terrify you and make you dive under the covers, but the little girl in this poem is friends with the boogie man, and they “boogie every night.”

   Then there is the story of the moose that got on a bus, which not surprisingly caused “quite a fuss.” When the animal boarded the bus, the passengers “screamed for police,” but the police were not around. What surprises the narrator of this story is that the moose, who came to sit next to her (or him) was “kind” and made for “polite company.” So all in all the moose was pleasant to be with, except that he was a bit too tall and his antlers were “rather too wide” for an average bus.

   Readers who like poetry are going to love exploring this book. The poems come all shapes and sizes, and one never quite knows what one is going to find on the next page. The poems are paired with Diane Goode’s expressive pen and ink drawings, and together they give readers a memorable book experience.