Monday, March 1, 2004

Troy Thompson's Excellent Poetry Book

Crew, Gary. 2003. TROY THOMPSON’S EXCELLENT PEOTRY [sic] BOOK. La Jolla, California: Kane/Miller. ISBN 1929132522 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

Troy Thompson, a student in Ms. Kranke’s class at Daggaburra State School, has been given a journal for his poetry assignments where he has stapled Ms. Kranke’s notes and his own imaginative creations. An explanation and example of each type of poetry studied in class is included, such as ballads, limericks, acrostics, odes, and concrete poetry. Troy pursues each assignment with wit and creativity. His creations center around the typical preoccupations of the average ten to twelve year old boy: his girlfriend Kylie, his dogs Ferris and Bueller, and his own hyperbolic sense of himself. His illustrations include all types of media from illustrations with crayon to cut out magazine photos. Not to be forgotten that this is an ongoing class assignment, Ms. Kranke grades the poems, and her comments are included in traditional red ink.

Troy’s poetry is not all fun and games. His father, a police officer, is killed in the line of duty. Through his ballad and sonnet, Troy offers insight into how he is dealing with the emotional upheaval the death of a parent can cause a child. However, the book does not drown in the melancholy of the situation. His poems allow him to express his emotions as he feels he needs to, and Ms. Kranke has a dialogue with him about his father, but neither one dwells on the issue any longer than Troy wants to.

This book is a twist on a typical how-to book. It takes the stigma out of writing poetry by giving kids whimsical examples that are approachable and realistic. The examples are clearly explained in Mrs. Kranke’s notes, but the explanations are not condescending to the audience. Each type of poetry in the book is a type that kids would like to read and write. Troy’s voice is legitimate, and readers will be able to relate to him. This book is not meant to tell students how to write poetry like Shakespeare did it, rather it shows students how to appreciate and create their own poetry using their lives for inspiration.

Students can use this book as a guide in their own poetry writing, either in class or on their own. They can create a similar journal with their own writing and artwork. The book could be the basis of a poetry unit. The forms of poetry are simple enough to be taught and replicated easily, perhaps during April, National Poetry Month.

Other poetry books by young authors or about young people:
ISBN 0688161936
Watson, Esther Pearl (compiler). THE PAIN TREE: AND OTHER TEENAGED ANGST-RIDDEN POEMS. ISBN 0613339487

By Lea Ann Gilbert

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