Friday, August 27, 2010

Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School

By Laura Purdie Salas
illustrated by Steven Salerno
$16, ages 4-8, 32 pages

Does your child ever feel like a mouse in a maze trying to find class? Or does he go whole hog stomping through puddles on the way to school?

In this rollicking collection of rhymes, Salas relates a child's experiences at school to characteristics of animals and along the way captures how a child feels deep inside.

"Playground Sparrows" evokes the exhilaration of letting loose on recess and how abruptly free time can come to an end.

"In one wave, we fly the coop. / We flood the field, we slide the loop. / We flock together, shout and whoop. / Then the school bell rings, and -- / no / more / group!"

Salas is also good at describing embarrassing moments that sneak up from behind.

In "Blush," a girl hears a whisper spreading through school that someone has a crush on her and suddenly she can feel her cheeks burn and the urge to run, as she blazes away like a cardinal.

Other poems compare a child's hunger at lunchtime to a dog pouncing on food and echo a boy's frustration with his penmanship, as he looks down and sees chicken scratch where letters should be.

In school, there are so many things to think about, from rules for walking down the hall to what your classmates think of you, and Salas seems to know each one.

This is a great book for deflating children's worries about school and showing them that everyone feels like they do at one time.

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