________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 13 . . . . February 28, 2003

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The Bug in the Teacher’s Coffee and Other School Poems. (An I Can Read Book)

Kalli Dakos. Illustrated by Mike Reed.
New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1999/2002.
41 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 0-06-444305-1

Subject Headings:
Education, Elementary -Juvenile poetry.
Elementary schools-Juvenile poetry.
Children’s poetry, American.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4

The Bug in Teacher's Coffee and Other School Poems is one of the “I Can Read” series inaugurated a generation ago with Elsie Minarik's well-known and well-loved “Little Bear” books. As most educators know, this series features highly regarded authors and illustrators and is designed to introduce children to the joy of independent reading. The 200 plus books in the series are divided into five levels intended to correspond to an individual child's reading development. The Bug in Teacher's Coffee and Other School Poems is designated a level 2 book suitable for grades 1 to 3 and characterized, according to the publisher, by "high interest stories with longer plots and language play for the developing reader."

internal art

     Twenty-three very short verses make up this slim volume. Children will enjoy reading Dakos' short poems aloud. They will particularly enjoy experimenting with volume and expression according to the italicized and capitalized words with which the author has sprinkled her text. Many of the poems lend themselves to choral (or at least partnered) reading, as does the one entitled "Jack's Pencil":

I've been taken hostage
By the creepy kid, Clark.

He stuck me in his desk,
Where it's smelly and dark.

He won't let me out
And he won't give me back.
I'm sitting here yelling,

"I'm in the desk,
Jaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!

     The light-hearted slightly irreverent (but not disrespectful) approach to school will appeal to the seven- year-old’s sense of fun without raising any teacher hackles. Mike Reed's brightly-coloured, wacky illustrations, reminiscent of Lane Smith (Squids Will Be Squids and The Stinky Cheese Man), will ensure the popularity of this book with the primary school crowd. The advantage of this collection of verses is that they can be read independently by children with emerging reading skills. Teachers may enjoy encouraging their students to create their own read-aloud poems with a school setting.

Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

 

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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