For obvious reasons, our school library has very few duplicate books. We have two of some books, but that is rare. Holes comes to mind. I think we have a hardback and a paperback of that one. And maybe Frindle. Anyway, there are two books that don’t have to play that game. One is D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. Kids love it. Teachers love it. We have five copies and they stay in circulation. The other one is Paul Janeczko’s A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. If I had to list the ten most essential books for a school library, A Kick in the Head would be one of them.
This is why: if a teacher wants to introduce different forms of poetry, Janecko’s book is the one I hand them. If a child wants to know what a limerick (or ode or sonnet or Double Dactyl) is, this is the book. If I need a quick definition of one form of poetry, I take a look at the end of the book where there is an excellent list of poetic forms with short definitions. This book is essential, and I don’t use the term lightly. What makes it even better are the very cool illustrations. Chris Raschka’s brightly colored cut paper and collage illustrations on the bright white background make this guide to poetic forms far more accessible and enjoyable.
A Kick in the Head was the second collaboration between Janeczko and Raschka following another of my favorite poetry books for children, A Poke in the I. Here’s the best part – I think Paul Janeczko is visiting our school next spring. If this works out, it will be far easier to endure another cold winter knowing that our students will have a chance to meet this creative and generous writer.