Viorst, Judith. What are you glad about? What are you mad about?
February 9th 2016 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
E ARC from Edleweiss Above the Treeline
In some ways, this is a sort of sequel to If I Were in Charge of the World, a book that was one of my daughter's favorites when she was in elementary school, mainly because it captured so many of her emotions at the time. This one is for a slightly older audience, and many of the poems were perfect for middle school students. I'm Not My Best Friend's Best Friend Anymore could, in fact, be the signature poem of middle school experience, but there are others, like All Alone Inside My Very Own Skin and Keeping Up With My Friends that also very brilliantly portray some of the more difficult moments that middle school students go through.
The illustrations by Lee White are very attractive. Fun, with a 1960s retro vibe, probably because of the quality of the line drawings. More modern illustrations are very smooth, and look computer generated, but White's have a Joe and Beth Krush, Quentin Blake quality to them.
As for the quality of the poetry-- Viorst is my gold standard for light hearted verse. She uses form and rhyme in innovative ways, has amusing topics, but is always flawless in her execution. The perfection of scansion and rhyme while playing with the rules a bit... it's breathtaking. If you haven't picked up her volumes of poetry for adults, such as How Did I Get to Be 40: & Other Atrocities, do yourself a favor and find copies right now. They are hysterically and heartbreakingly true to the experience of being thirty, forty or fifty.
I definitely want to see an actual copy of this, but the 6.3" x 8" size bodes well for this. At 112 pages, it looks more like a middle school book than an elementary one, and will be perfect for the poetry unit that the 7th graders at my school do. There's plenty of figurative language, and poems longer than 40 words if students need one to memorize. In fact, this is so perfect that I may have to buy two copies.