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R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet Review by Kendra Fletcher

By Judy Young
IllustratorIllustrated by Victor Juhasz
Published by Sleeping Bear Press
800-487-2323, ext. 8767
310 North Main St., Ste 300
Chelsea, MI 48118

I have to admit, we are not big poetry fans in our home. We've done our share of memorization, and we are tickled by the likes of Silverstein and Benet, but the idea of actually making a study of poetry hasn't really lit a fire under our collective bellies.

So when R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet showed up on my doorstep, I reluctantly flipped through it thinking it would be something to read at the lunch table and then pass along to a more poetic family. Silly me. First of all, I'm a sucker for good illustrations and Victor Juhasz's whimsical paintings drew me in (no pun intended) immediately. All of us (three boys, three girls, and me) laughed aloud at the painting of the rose and the butterfly in which a lovely red rose donning a bridal veil is proposed to by a decorated butterfly wearing a top hat and tails.

The poems themselves are engaging. Take "The Ballerina", for instance:

There once was a hippo named Rose
Who thought she had delicate toes
But on stage, the old frau
Would not take a bow
For her tutu was tight, I suppose.

But the best and most intriguing aspect of the entire book is the side columns which accompany each poem (and there are twenty-six). From A to Z, poetic styles from acrostics and ballads to sonnets and villanelles are explained to the reader so that the accompanying poem becomes a study in itself. Suddenly, my children cared about iambic pentameter and were amused by the creative brilliance of the doublet.

Homeschoolers could make a basic poetry study come alive by using R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet as a casual spine for learning poetic styles. Even if you know nothing about poetry, you might find R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet a treat to read. It is not a book that is easily devoured in one sitting; give yourself time to absorb the style and content of each page and poem.

What about older children? After all, R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet is a picture book. My oldest is 13 and even he became interested as the poems proved both witty and clever. At the end of the day, I found the book on the floor next to his bed.

-- Product Review by: Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2006