Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness

This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness

Joyce Sidman
Illustrator:  Pamela Zagarenski 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 8 to 12
Houghton Mifflin , 2007   ISBN: 978-0618616800

Anthony K is a six grader in Mrs. Merz’s class at Florence Scribner School. Inspired by a poem written by William Carlos Williams, Anthony and his classmates decided to write some “sorry” poems to people that they have wronged in some way. They then asked the recipients of the poems to write poems in response to the apologies. The children have complied the two sets of poems into this book and they hope that we - their readers - will enjoy the poems that they wrote and that they received.

The collection opens with a poem from Thomas. The poem is for Mrs. Garcia, who works in the office. Thomas confesses that he stole “the jelly doughnuts / that were in / the teacher’s lounge.”

Reuben and Kyle apologize to each other for hitting each other too hard with the dodge ball. Reuben knows that he got carried away, and Kyle even goes so far as to say that he will probably “do it again.”

Carmen apologizes for making fun of Mrs. Merz’s dress. She admits that she “felt like a traitor,” and she wishes she could “rewind” her hurtful words and say something kind instead.

Each of the poems in this book beautifully captures the personalities of the people who wrote them. As we read them, we can almost see Mrs. Merz, her students, their families and their friends. We can appreciate the sentiments of the writers, and understand their transgressions and their hurts, their apologies and their forgiveness. There is humor and pathos in the words, and the various poetical forms used are beautifully complimented by Pamela Zagarenski’s memorable multimedia art.