Next, Chandra Burrell offers this very helpful readers' guide for Bob Raczka's newest book, Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word. Check it out.
Raczka, Bob. 2011. LEMONADE AND OTHER POEMS SQUEEZED FROM A SINGLE WORD. Ill. by Nancy Doniger. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press. ISBN 9781596435414
About the author and illustrator
Bob Raczka has written many books about art and art history for children. He lives in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
Nancy Doniger has illustrated several books for children and done editorial illustration for the New York Times and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Recommended age level: 8-12; grade levels: 3rd grade – 7th grade
Summary of book
There are 22 poems that stretch across different themes and they are in no particular order. Raczka makes you think and look at words in a different way since each poem only uses one single word to construct the entire poem. When you first see the poem each letter is under the letter from the main single word to create the poem. It is a poem puzzle that begs to be solved. Some poems are quick and easy while others make you ponder before you turn the page because you want to believe that it is easier than it looks. Then if you finally say I give up the answer is on the back when you turn the page. And truly each poem is simple and powerful because he takes a single word and creates many words that turn into a poem that has depth and layers. Raczka creates a book that showcases poetry in a different way which makes it fun and challenging at the same time.
Starred Review from Booklist: “Doniger’s spare illustrations add quirky appeal without distracting from the inventive formations of type. More than just clever gimmicks, the poems leave room for moving lines with a depth that invites imaginative wandering: ‘A / silent / lion / tells / an ancient / tale,’ reads ‘Constellation.’ Sure to have wide classroom appeal.”
Horn Book Review: “The lemonade here is cool and refreshing, and it makes you want to do some squeezing yourself in this playground where poet meets Scrabble nerd.”
School Library Journal Review: “A clever, catchy, and challenging collection.”
Kirkus Review: “Fun as a prompt for poetic exploration.”
Questions to ask before reading book
Ask students to look at how the word lemonade is dropping into the pitcher. Now discuss why the author use the word “squeezed” in the title?
Look at the Table of Contents and pick out 2 words and have the student imagine what comes to mind when you say those words. Then allow the students to create a list. For example when I think about television I think square, TV shows, cartoons, music video, and cable.
Do you think it is easy or hard to write poems that only use a single word as the inspiration?
Talk about how Raczka gives an overview of how he discovers one word poems from another author and he gives the other author credit by showing one of his poems. Why is it important to give credit to others?
Suggestions for reading poem aloud
“Spring”- I sing/I spin/I grin
This is a great poem for the whole group to read together while doing exactly what it says to do in the poem.
Have students use their hands to go up and down as they read the poem. When hands go up simulate new snow that is about to start again and hands come down they simulate the snow falling down which is a good way to incorporate movement while reading the poem.
Divide students into two groups and one group read the first three lines and the second group read the 2nd group of three lines. Also this poem could be read outside while on the playground so that students can act out the play as they read it.
Follow up activities (writing, art, science, etc.)
Ask the students to be creative by picking their own single word and creating a poem using the single word chosen.
In the book the illustrator used simple drawing for the poems. Ask students to visualize what their poem represents. Students will create their own simple drawing for their poems using different mediums.
In the book the poems are in columns so have the students use the column method to create their poems. Once they are finish ask students to count the letters used in their poem. Then they can create a graph that shows which letters were used from least to greatest. The data would show which letters are used more when creating the new words from the single word.
In the book there are two different poems that focus on minivan and vacation. A great social studies activity would be for the students to pick a destination in the U.S.A. they would like to go on for their vacation. Now have the students find out fun facts about that destination. And for fun the students can try to create another single word poem using the destination as their inspiration. I chose to create a poem about Houston.
In this book there are two poems that relate to spring and two poems that relate to winter. Have students create a graphic organizer to compare and contrast between winter and spring.
Related web sites/blogs
Helps students see possible word combination when trying to create one word poems. Type in a word and it gives possible words that come from the primary word.
The Booklist review talks about the constellation poem and this is a great to expand students’ knowledge about constellations and stars with this informative and useful website.
One of the poems is called “Creative” and Bob Raczka’s website has a link to his favorite place to look at art. That would be a great pair to read the poem then go to the link for The Art Institute of Chicago to look at the same great art.
There is great factual information about ladybugs, earthworms, and many other kinds of animals. The first two are featured poems so it would be a great way to extend the learning and learn new facts.
Related books (other poetry, related nonfiction, related fiction)
Other poetry books
Raczka, Bob. (2010). GUYKU: A YEAR OF HAIKU FOR BOYS. Ill. by Peter Reynolds. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN 9780547240039.
Mordhorst, Heidi. (2005). SQUEEZE: POEMS FROM A JUICY UNIVERSE. Ill. by Jesse Torrey. Honesdale, Pa.: Wordsong. ISBN 978-1590782927
Singer, Marilyn. (2010). MIRROR MIRROR: A BOOK OF REVERSIBLE VERSE. Ill. by Josee Masse. New York: Dutton Children's Books. ISBN: 978-0525479017
Heard, Georgia. (2011). FALLING DOWN THE PAGE. New York: Roaring Book Press. ISBN 9781596432208
Relates to Pepperoni poem
Buller, Laura. (2005). FOOD- DK EYEWITNESS. New York: DK Publishing ISBN 978-0756611712
Relates to Flowers poem
Gibbons, Gail. (1993). FROM SEED TO PLANTS. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 978-0823410255
Relates to Bleachers poem
Cole, Joanna. (1998). THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS PLAYS BALL: A BOOK ABOUT FORCES. New York: Scholastic Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0590922401
Read the “Treehouse” poem and then can use this book to relate how fun and magical a tree house can be.
Mary Osborne. (2003). HIGH TIDE IN HAWAII –MAGIC TREE HOUSE. New York: Random House Books. ISBN 978-0375806162
Read the “Bicycle poem and then can use this book to talk about how important bike safety is because things can happen in a blink of an eye
Park, Barbara. (1996). MICK HARTE WAS HERE. New York: Yearling Publishing. ISBN 978-0679882039
Used with permission of Chandra Burrell.