Because I Could Not Stop My Bike
Product Code: 91059
Binding Information: Paperback
Ages: 7 - 12
Availability: In stock
Karen Jo Shapiro's lighthearted take on some of the most celebrated poems from English and American literature will bring a smile to readers everywhere. Twenty-six hilarious poems fill the pages of this book, and many of them should sound familiar - if just a little off.
From a little dog's version of Shakespeare to the fractured homage to Emily Dickinson of the title poem, these verses will have you laughing faster than you can say "iambic pentameter." With Matt Faulkner's witty illustrations, this is one poetry book that's pure fun.
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School Library Journal - August 31, 2003In these delightful transformations of 26 classic poems, Shapiro has taken the rhythms and meters of the originals and made them her own. Walt Whitman's "O Captain!My Captain" becomes "Oh Mommy!My Mommy!," a lament from a kid stuck in the backseat on a long car trip. Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee" becomes "Macaroni and Cheese" ("It was many and many a week ago/that I and my sister Louise/first tried out a food that you might know/called macaroni and cheese"). Each selection begins with apologies to the original poet. Although the best audience for this book might be English-major parents of seven-and eight-year-olds, most of the poems do have child appeal, at least on some level. Faulkner's comic watercolor-and-ink pictures add a light touch that is totally appropriate for this fun book. With apologies to John Donne, Shapiro notes in a brief foreword: "Do not ask for whom the poems are told./The poems are told for you." Indeed. A great concept with a highly appealing treatment.
Mama's Cup - April 29, 2009This morning on NPR, I heard an interview with Karen Jo Shapiro, Mama, author, poet and psychologist.
Karen Jo doesn't write just any old kids' poetry. She writes classics. Well, kind of.
A lifelong lover of words and meter, Karen Jo spent her youth reading and studying the poems of the masters. Once she had her daughter, she discovered a way to unite two of her life's great loves: Classical poetry and children.
Karen Jo introduces children to the rhythm and rhyme of classical poetry using subjects kids can understand. Her playful parodies of some of the English language's most beloved verse make great introductions to the great works. By shying away from the "heavier" themes of the classics, Karen Jo's poems bounce and frolic their way from Dickinson to Poe to my personal favorite, Shakespeare, while retaining the music inherent in the original work.
"Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble," from Shakespeare's Macbeth becomes:
Bubbles, baubles, singles and doubles;
soapy bath and fishy pond,
blow some from a plastic wand.
Here a moment then they're gone.
Suddenly, the pre-K set is counting out iambs!
The Miss Rumphius Effect - April 30, 2009Parodies of Famous Poems
In recognition of National Poetry Month, "Morning Edition's" Renee Montagne talked with Karen Jo Shapiro on Tuesday about her poetry books. In the story Author Makes Famous Poems Fun For Kids, Shapiro reads some of her work and talks about her poetic parodies.
I enjoyed the story and the exercise of guessing which famous poem each parody was based on. After listening I read through the comments, which were highly polarized. Here are a few examples (both in favor and against).
* I am not just disappointed, but saddened that NPR would encourage the dumbing-down of poetry for children.
* I think it is wonderful to introduce children to poetry in ANY form.
* Perhaps we should lighten up a bit. So, I offer poets like Charles Ghigna, Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak who write wonderful children's poems that I love!!! No need to dumb down other poems.
* These poems were written for small children, to get them interested in a lifetime love of poetry reading. Once a child's ketchup and macaroni filled mind are entertained by the thought of reading these 'oversimplified' versions, they might actually be moved to read the classic poems that Ms. Shapiro is introducing to them.
* After hearing Mary Jo Shapiro's poems that were "inspired" by classic poems, I plan on teaching the original poem along side Shapiro's version. I'll do anything to help a student make a connection, so that when they do encounter a classic poem (or its poet) later on in school, they will have some background information with which to make a connection.
* I am a believer in lifting children UP to the level of the literature. We NEVER dumbed down great authors to our kids.
* Getting kids away from the ever-present screen and into the page is the first step in getting them to be readers, and Karen Jo's book of poem "makeovers" might be a doorway into the unplugged world.
I found this whole conversation about "dumbing-down" poems both fascinating and irritating. Since when is parody dumbing-down? Frankly, to parody well you need extensive knowledge of the original work. I think kids, particularly those in middle school could really exercise some poetic muscle by writing parodies of their own. I haven't seen the books (yet), but they seem like they might make wonderful mentor texts.
During the interview when Shapiro was asked what kids would get out of these poems, she responded this way. (My apologies for the punctuation. I was typing while listening and a transcriptionist I am not!)
I always meant the books to work on two levels at the same time, and so, the poems stand alone. I go in and read them to kindergartners, first graders, second graders who have never heard of William Shakespeare and they just appreciate the funny story, eating ketchup or eating macaroni and cheese and they appreciate it at that level. But what I wanted to give them that was extra is that it has these beautiful meters and rhythms taken from such wonderful writers like Edgar Allan Poe . . .
The older kids, the middle schoolers that are just starting to learn about some of these famous poets, it kind of gives them an entryway or a way to connect with poets whose language is often difficult, and so this gives them a way to see that they can connect to poems in a more familiar way.
You can learn more about these titles by clicking on the images above. Teachers will find that they can download the full text of the original poems (in PDF format) that inspired the parodies for both I Must Go Down to the Beach Again and Because I Could Not Stop My Bike.
To hear a few more of these poems, listen to this podcast from LAPL (Los Angeles Public Library). For more information about the author, visit her web site.
So, what say you dear readers? How do you feel about such parodies? Inquiring minds want to know.