Friday, November 04, 2011

Poetry Friday: Two Instant Hits in the Classroom

Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking
by Alan Katz
illustrated by Edward Koren
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher
(Kindle edition here)

There are never enough books of funny poems in my classroom. After I preview a couple from this book with my fourth graders, I'm sure it won't stay on the shelf long on Poetry Friday!


My brother was stealing.
Dad shot him.
We watched.

Please don't be upset,
and don't chafe.
Dad shot with a camera.
Bro was stealing third.
So relax.
By the way,
he was safe!


My brother is so wacky.
My brother is so weird.
I've seen kids get milk mustaches,
but he's got a milk beard!

Audio interview with Alan Katz on Poetry4Kids.

Every Thing On It
by Shel Silverstein
Harper, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher

I had no idea another volume of Shel Silverstein poetry would be published posthumously. What a surprise when I opened the package that contained this book!

The poems and art are classic Silverstein.


If you're learnin' to read
But you haven't learned yet,
And the B's and the D's
Are just givin' you fits,
And you feel about twenty-six
Pains where you sit
It's that ol' Letter Snake --
You've been alpha-bit.

There are no clues anywhere in the book that Silverstein has been gone for 12 years. Kids don't need to know that. But for those of us who grew up on THE GIVING TREE (1964) and WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (1974), the first and last poems in the book are quite poignant.


Although I cannot see your face
As you flip these poems awhile,
Somewhere from some far-off place
I hear you laughing--and I smile.


When I am gone what will you do?
Who will write and draw for you?
Someone smarter--someone new?
Someone better--maybe YOU!

Laura Purdie Salas has the Poetry Friday roundup today at her spiffy new blog!


  1. Ohhh. Those first and last Silverstein poems.

    I'm always ambivalent about posthumous publications; all too often it's a son or daughter or estate without the express consent of the author - but in this case, it seems to be a seamless fit, just "more Shel," period. Which is wonderful.

  2. I just discovered your blog this week and I love it! I am on maternity leave right now, but taught grade 3 for nine years prior to this. My bookshelves were packed with amazing books, but always felt like they lacked good poetry. I really appreciate this post and look forward to more! I should have a great poetry section when I go back next year! Thanks!

  3. Love both sharings, but that poem by Silverstein, 'Years From Now' is certainly bittersweet, isn't it? It's as if he's watching from afar. He has left us so many gifts!

  4. What a great title for a kids' poetry book -- "Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking." "Years From Now" struck me in the heart, also.

  5. Great picks, Mary Lee. I, too, love the poignancy of the first and last Silverstein poems. And I love the way the last one encourages his young readers to pick up the torch and carry on.

  6. Kids will love those books, for sure!

  7. I'm not a particular Silverstein fan, but how touching are those poems. So honest, so simple, so comforting.

  8. Thanks for posting this! I added the Silverstein book to my Poetry Center this year... and the sixth graders love it--especially my reluctant readers.

    I'm enjoying your posts and learning (and borrowing) a lot. Thanks!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  9. That last one was so sweet!

  10. The first Katz poem got me! So clever. Amazing how we automatically think the worst.

    Definitely bittersweet to read those last Silverstein poems.

  11. Oh, Mary Lee! We can always count on you to help us shop. I'm very excited to be introduced to that Alan Katz book. We have the Silverstein one out now from our library, and I feel happily 8 years old while reading. Thank you! A.

  12. Even the title of Alan Katz's book tickles me. I'm going to look for this one for my 9-year-old and his class. Thanks for highlighting poetry news!

  13. Thank you for sharing! I am always looking for ways to incorporate more poetry into my classroom!

    I adore Silverstein ...



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