Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems

Bob Raczka
For ages 7 to 10
Roaring Brook Press, 2016   ISBN: 978-1626722361

For Bob Raczka, poems are “word paintings” because the words on the page “paint pictures inside your head.” The wonderful thing about concrete poems, or shape poems, is that the words also “paint pictures on the page.” The words are arranged in such a way that they create an image of something that represents what the poem is about. For example, for a poem about a candle, the words might we arranged on the page to look like a flame.

In this collection of poems Bob Raczka has decided to take the picture-making aspect of his creations to another level. The words of the poems create a picture, and in addition the letters in the titles of the poems also create a picture.

For example, in the poem Crossword, the letters in the title of the poem are arranged in such a way to create a cross. Then the words of the poem are placed on the page in such a way that they create what looks like a crossword.

In the Poem Dominoes, the title letters are tipped to one side, and the words of the poem look like a row of dominoes that have also been tipped over. The text in the poem is written from the point of view of the dominoes themselves. They talk about the need to “brace yourself,” “forward march” and “do your part,” as they fall over and lean against each other.

The poem Icicles is beautifully picture rich. Both the letters in the title and the words in the poem hang down like icicles from the eves of a building. The title is upside down and the lines of the poem hang sideways so that we have to turn the page to read them. They tell us how icicles form and how you can “Break one off and take a lick” when the icicles are “long and clear and ripe.”

Children are going to be delighted when they see how the poems in this book loop and hop, circle, crisscross, and hang on the pages to create pictures. They may even be inspired to try creating concrete poems of their own.