Monday, November 19, 2007

Novels in verse

Let it be duly noted that I wasn't liking anything I picked up this weekend, so I was apparently in a difficult mood. I gave up and watched The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, which was a good book AND movie.

The two books I did pick up both happened to be in verse. Such a hard sell, both to me and to students. The first was Trash, by Sharon Darrow. This was the description from Follett: "Graffiti artists Sissy Lexie and younger brother Boy try to maintain a sense of family while living in a series of foster homes and staying with their older sister, until a tragic accident forces Sissy to make decisions about her future."

The poetry was very free verse, and I had a hard time getting that. Students who like to read books about problems such as these are frequently struggling readers, and the use of imagery and poetic language makes this hard to read.

The other was Norma Fox Mazer's What I Believe. This incorporates the problems that her work normally does (father loses job and family must relocate), but is done is a very experimental style. Very good try on lots of poetic forms. Poetically, this is good, but it makes the story hard to read. I think this is the only book by this author that I will be lacking on the shelves.

For aspiring writers thinking about writing a book in verse: please don't. Just don't. I know that college professors of children's literature think they are great, but run the text by an actual young adult first. Please.

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