Saturday, August 19, 2006


Ralph Fletcher has written a new collection of poetry that expresses the sadness many children feel when they have to move to a new place. In addition, the poems are loosely connected one to another to reveal the grieving process of separating from the familiar and slowly establishing new roots in a new place. Although each poem can stand alone, each has even greater impact when read as a story narrative. The poems are grounded in familiar moments and images (a new bike, an old sweatshirt) that become metaphors for deeper feelings. Small watercolor illustrations by Jennifer Emery add just the right touch throughout the book, a small window into the moment. The poems are written in free verse, but their structure, rhythm, and layout craft an easy readability that is inviting and accessible. Here’s one example:

Defrosting the Freezer

One container of spaghetti sauce
Grandma made before she died.

Two old pieces of wedding cake
you couldn’t pay me to eat.

Three snowballs from last winter
slightly deformed, no longer fluffy.

Four small flounder from the time
Grandpa took me deep-sea fishing.

Everything coated with a thick
white layer of sadness.

Published by Wordsong (2006), the poetry imprint of Boyds Mills Press, this collection is a reassuring voice for children who are dealing with one of life’s most challenging transitions.

P.S. Ralph Fletcher is also the author of many helpful books for adults who work with children on writing, including A WRITER'S NOTEBOOK, CRAFT LESSONS, POETRY MATTERS, and many more.

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