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Review of TECHNICALLY, IT'S NOT MY FAULT: CONCRETE POEMS by John Grandits.

by Cay Geisler

Grandits, John. 2004. TECHNICALLY, IT'S NOT MY FAULT: CONCRETE POEMS. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN 061842833X

What a fun book! In his first book of poetry, Grandits has produced a clever, witty, and engaging group of poems surrounding the character, Robert. Robert is just a fun-loving, creative kid who loves, sports, computer games, and just about everything else except his sister and school. Linked together, the poems tell Robert's madcap story.

The illustrations and type fonts that Grandits use to enhance his poems are kid-friendly and dynamic. Reading the poems requires the reader to turn the book in all directions increasing the actual fun of reading. The family squabbles and the sibling rivalry ring true and young people will relate. In a poem titled "How We Ended Up with a Plain Pizza," shows type running along the outside circle of the pizza with the line, "All right, all right! We'll order pizza. We have a coupon for one extra-large pie. But every body has to agree on what toppings to get" (Grandits, 2004). Each piece of pizza is one person's opinion about what kind of pizza to order, which because there is no agreement, links back to the title of why they ended up with a plain pizza--very clever word play. The baseball, basketball, and skateboarding poems are right on and children will be thrilled to recognize not only the shapes but also the movements in the type.

The design of the book is definitely a strong point. The clever story that leads into the title is very funny. Robert decides to test Galileo's theory of gravity with a concrete block and a tomato by tossing them out of attic window. He has been raised on Saturday morning cartoons and doesn't understand Galileo's logic. Unfortunately he misjudges the distances and the concrete block lands on the family car. He rationalizes the mistake as a scientific experiment gone wrong: "But in my opinion, the experiment was totally worth doing. There was just a slight mix-up, one tiny detail that went wrong, so even though the car has a concrete block sticking out of the roof, technically, it's not my fault" (Grandits, 2004).

Exposing children to poetry at all levels of their lives is an important task for adults. Sharing Grandits's concrete poetry with children will be a fun and stress-free way to enjoy poetry together.

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