What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem

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9781481423557: What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem
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From the beloved and internationally bestselling author of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst comes a brand-new collection of clever, hilarious, and poignant poems that touch on every aspect of the roller-coaster ride that is childhood.

Did you wake up this morning all smiley inside?
Does life taste like ice cream and cake?
Or does it seem more like your goldfish just died
And your insides are one great big ache?


From school to family to friends, from Grrrr to Hooray!, Judith Viorst takes us on a tour of feelings of all kinds in this thoughtful, funny, and charming collection of poetry that’s perfect for young readers just learning to sort out their own emotions.

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About the Author:

Judith Viorst was born and brought up in New Jersey and has lived in Washington, DC, since 1960, when she married Milton Viorst, a political writer. A graduate in 1981 of the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, Viorst writes in many different areas: science books, children’s chapter and picture books—including the beloved Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which has sold some four million copies; adult fiction and nonfiction including the New York Times bestseller, Necessary Losses; poetry for children and adults, and four musicals. Her most recent book of poetry for children, What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About? was published in 2016. Lulu Is Getting a Sister is the fourth book in the Lulu series.

Review:

The title of Viorst'slatest collection of poetry for children provides an open invitation forreaders not only to ponder feelings in general, but to examine their reactionsto the assembled poems as well. Complemented by White's free-flowingmixed-media illustrations, the light lyric pieces cover topics ranging from"School Stuff" to descriptions of the seasons, with the mostmemorable poems centering on personal and familial relations. The reasons"Why Cats Are Better Than My Older Sister" include (but are notlimited to) the following: "They never tell you what to do. / They neverever yell at you. / They don't think that they're always right. / They'reprettier to look at, too." In "New Brother," trenchantfree-verse anti-new-sibling sentiment is hilariously underscored by White'srendering of a smiling, swaddled babe strapped to a rocket heading "ToMars." But some stumbles make for an uneven reading experience. There areoccasional grammatical lapses, as found in "Could Somebody Please ExplainThis to Me, Please?," which hinges on subject-verb disagreement, andquestionable messages, as offered in "Help Me!": "Help me pleasewith all my / Ninety-seven other chores. / Then help me make excuses / When youask for help with yours." Though likely made in the service of humor oradopting a child's persona, such poetic choices might give adult readers lessto be "glad" than "mad about." An unusually mixed bag. (Kirkus Reviews November 1, 2015)

Viorst’s most famous book is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very

Bad Day, and this collection of over fifty poems expresses the same wry humor

and sharp observation about the range of feelings children experience in their

everyday lives. Viorst plays with school subjects such as reading, writing, and

“arithmetrick” (in the “School Stuff” section), and there are poems about competition

with friends (the “Friends and Other People” section), bossy moms (“About

the Family”), and the mystery of time sometimes seeming fast and sometimes

slow. But the strongest poems go to the heart of feelings, such as worrying: “I

like the sun hot on my back. / If killer sharks did not attack, / I’d like beaches.”

One especially poignant piece deals with breaking up with a best friend: “We’ve

never had an argument, or even a small fuss, / But I’m not my best friend’s best

friend anymore.” White’s illustrations bring zany humor to the poems, and even

sometimes add their own little twist, as in “Whoops,” where a poem about trying

to reach something high up is pictured with someone reaching for a treasure chest

on the back of a dragon. From a riff on The Sound of Music (“My Least Favorite

Things”) to a clever poem pondering the purpose of toes, this collection will

delight kids and the adults who read it aloud, too. (The Horn Book Magazine January/February 2016)

In this newest collection of poetry, Viorst captures the experience of childhood through 11 rich categories, such as school, family, friends, and seasons. With a rhyming narrative, humor, and a sampling of haiku, Viorst touches on themes relevant to children, including losing friendships, bullying, coping with bothersome siblings, and facing fears. White’s soft, whimsical illustrations help create an imaginative space for readers to explore troubling emotions. In “The Best and the Worst,” for instance, a young boy walks a tightrope of Christmas lights between his parents, with his dad offers a surfboard on one side and his mom a horse on the other. Viorst writes, “They’d promise me Hawaii/They’d promise me a horse,/If that made me not notice/They’re getting a divorce.” Other, more humorous verse lightens the mood. In “Arithmetrick,” Viorst challenges kids to take any number, and after a series of calculations, they’ll realize they end up with the number 10. Children will delight in figuring out the trick andtrying it out on others. VERDICT-Although there are missteps with some rhymes, generating an uneven selection, Viorst’s comedic talents, ability to engagereaders, and coverage of universal topics make this an appealing choice.–Rachel Zuffa, Racine Public Library, WI (School Library Journal January 1, 2016)

In poems grouped into categoriesincluding school, family, and friends, Viorst thoughtfully explores the ups anddowns of children’s lives, without glossing over tough moments—or humans’ sometimesless-than-admirable instincts. In one poem, the narrator contemplates hersomewhat distant father’s happiness (“He’s always watching over us./ Here’swhat I want to know:/ Is anyone watching over him?”), while a retaliatory entrylater on addresses “What to Do with a Bully” (“You could give him a fat lip,/Stick your foot out—make him trip”). In loose cartoons accented with a drabpale blue, White (The Maine Coon’s Haiku) amplifies the strong emotions atplay, from delight in a grandfather’s grilled-cheese-making prowess to sadnessover losing a best friend (White shows a girl staring sadly out the window, asevered tin-can “phone” in her hand). Whatever readers’ mood may be, they willprobably find a poem that suits it. Ages 6–9. (Publishers Weekly December 21, 2015)

And how are you feeling today? Lonely, jealous, scared, silly? Fighting bullies or trying out for the school

play? Having methodically explored every adult decade of passage in previous works, beloved author

Viorst handily focuses on the emotions of her young audience in poems such as “I’m Not My Best

Friend’s Friend Anymore” and “What I Want to Know about My Dad.” As Viorst knows, even the best

parents get divorced, and sometimes you might get a baby sibling without ever being asked if you even

wanted one. Readers and listeners will find rhyming verses about school, family, friends, seasons, and

more, all using vocabulary that tickles. White’s blue-and-black illustrations match the feelings, whether

whimsical or skeptical. Ever honest, the best lines are those that share the confusion, challenges, and

questions of what it means to be you: “Too old to keep my teddy bear, / Too young to let him go. / I’m in

between and waiting / For the rest of me to grow.” (Booklist December 15, 2015)

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