Wednesday, April 13, 2011

EMMA DILEMMA by Kristine O’Connell George

Poetry Tag continues with a book review of a new book of poetry connected to yesterday's book review.

Today’s tagline: Poems about a pair of sisters

Guest Reviewer: Karla Phipps

Featured Book: George, Kristine O’Connell. 2011. Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems. Ill. by Nancy Carpenter. Clarion. ISBN 978-0-618-42842-7

Karla begins:

“Mom, she is bothering me!”
“No, I’m not!”
“Are too!”
“Are not!”

This has been an argument heard at many houses all around the world and will continue as long as siblings strive to build relationships with each other. The relationship between sisters is a very special one. Many of us have at one time viewed our little sisters as pests and would like for them to leave us alone, instead of constantly interrupting us. The poems in this award-winning book do an amazing job of introducing the reader to the unique and often hard to understand relationship between sisters. The author, Kristine O’Connell George, uses her experience as a big sister to give a unique perspective in her writing.

The author uses the connection between Jessica and Emma to appeal to the emotions of the reader. Each person at one point in their life has seen their younger sibling as an ally, a playmate, but also as the enemy. Each of the poems has a natural cadence and rhythm, and is not written in rhyming format. This format would be excellent for choral reading. The language used by the poet can be easily understood by the reader and each of the poems, along with the illustrations by Nancy Carpenter, stimulates the imagination of the reader.

In the following poem, “Emma Dilemma,” the poet presents an interesting description of dealing with the frustrations of having a pesky younger sister.

“Emma Dilemma”
by Kristine O'Connell George

Sometimes Dad calls my little sister Emma Dilemma.
Dad says a dilemma is an interesting problem.
I know Dad’s joking but sometimes Emma is my dilemma.

Each of the poems included in this book shares different facets of the relationship between two sisters and helps to reinforce the purpose of this book, which is to show the love and sometimes intense dislike between two siblings. As much as our siblings do things to drive us crazy, such as trying to copy each thing that we do or embarrass us in front of our friends, we still love them. The reader will feel many different emotions throughout the reading of this book, as the poems share Jessica’s daily struggles with her little sister, ranging from pride to intense sadness.

As a way of sharing this book, I would use this book as a way of introducing a study of family relationships. I would begin with the question, “How do you feel when your sibling does something to bother you?” Depending on the grade level, students may need to know what the word “sibling” means. After allowing students to verbally share how they would feel and writing these down on chart paper, I would share the poem, “Trespass” from the book. Students could then complete a journal entry about their siblings. An example could be:

When my little sister (or brother) takes something of mine, I feel _______.

To extend this activity, I would have the students complete a home project sharing information about their families with different questions, such as what type of activities does your family like to do together, how many siblings do you have, and what makes your family special. This is an activity that my first grade students complete each year. Older students could write their relationship with a sibling.

Tomorrow’s tagline: Poems about another pair

[You can still purchase your own copy of PoetryTagTime, an e-book with 30 poems, all connected, by 30 poets, all connected and downloadable right now at Amazon for your Kindle or Kindle app for your computer, iPad or phone. Just 99 cents. Don’t miss it.]

Image credit: Clarion; PoetryTagTime

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell and students © 2011. All rights reserved.

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