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Zigzag Kids: A New Series from Patricia Reilly Giff

Summer Re-Run: Poetry Friday the 13th

6a00d834516d9569e200e5536ccfab8834-320pi Here's a Poetry Friday column from June 2008. We still read this book!

You'll find the Poetry Friday roundup, i.e.,  links to more poetry talk in the kidlitosphere today, at The Stenhouse Blog.


For today's Poetry Friday entry, I'd like to tell you about a book that Junior and I are enjoying: Janet S. Wong's Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions. I have soft spot for books, like this one, that start up a conversation between the people reading it. That's my hope for all children's books, really.

Junior's age, 8, is a fine one for talking about superstitions [note: 10 is still good, too!]; he's heard of a few that Wong addresses in the seventeen short poems. With a whiff of mystery and magic, the subjects include four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, broken mirrors, and ladders, not to mention Friday the 13th. Because he didn't know about all of them, Junior was eager to read the glossary where the poet gives a little background on each superstition. For instance, in reference to black cats, Wong notes that they were "revered in ancient Egypt, but feared in medieval Europe." Since we're feline aficionados, we decided we'd rather be like the ancient Egyptians. The poem "Cat" begins "Look out for her, the black cat./Walk backward/when she crosses your path/if you fear the magic she brings/as she travels through your time." Julie Paschkis's typically lush and beautiful illustrations accompany the poems, and provide additional things to discuss.


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What a perfect book for today! I've just been discussing superstition with my two, arguing that in Italy it's Friday 17th that's unlucky - but they simply would not be put off from the notion of Friday 13th!

I really like this book, Marjorie, although my son insists that Mondays are his unlucky days, a notion that he got from Garfield.

I'm glad you posted this one, I don't know how I missed this book. I need my own copy! I agree with you and Junior on the notion about cats. If a black cat crosses my path, it means something really good is going to happen. My sister sees a very unusual type of white cat only before something annoying happens. The other day while I was talking w/ her, she looked out her window and said, "Oh no, the white cat is visiting again!"

Elaine, you'd like this book. Such an accessible way to start a conversation about superstitions with children. I had a black cat once, and she was a big character. Interesting about your sister's luck with the white cat!

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