Sunday, October 2, 2011


Poems by Alan Katz
Drawings by Edward Koren 
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008
   My mother bought me this book about a year ago. She thought that I would enjoy it and pointed out some of the poems that reminded her of me. For example: 

The Name's The Same

In U.S. cities
and plenty of towns,
people have names
that are verbs and are nouns.

Gene wears jeans
and Jim's at the gym.
Mark makes his mark
(that's a homonym)

Skip and Flip know
what to do without fail.
But if you name's Rob,
then you're goin' to jail.

And another one she jabbed me with!

Long De-Vision

The doctor said,
"Read that eye chart...
line four,
please read it all."

I cannot see the char,
to start--
'cause I
can't see the wall.

Thanks Mom! An ode to my legendary bad eyesight! 

I highly recommend this book for exposing boys to poetry. So much is related to brothers, hating school, and the highly gross things that adolescent boys do in their lives. Example: 
 In Brief
"Change your underwear!
Change your underwear!"
Each day I hear Mom whine.
I tell her I do.
My brother does too.
I change into his,
he takes mine.

Cute, right? There are a lot of poems about flatulence, snot, and the typical hygiene habits of adolescent boys. Baseball, bodily functions, and the dreaded visit to the dentist are all available

In the epilogue, author Alan Katz shares his experiences throughout elementary school, including some of his writing and even his report cards! Katz tells us about his inability to draw. He writes, “Even today, I can’t draw to save my life (although that’s probably not ever gonna come up—I can’t imagine a doctor examining me and saying, “Mr. Katz, we can’t operate. They only way to save your life is if you draw an adorable squirrel.”) This self-disclosure is evident throughout the afterword, and even richer in his poetry.

I was first introduced to cartoonist Edward Koren in 1999. My best friend sent me a cartoon from The New Yorker that Koren had drawn. It was of a man at a party with a plate full of food and a woman who comes up to him and says: "Your metabolism is the envy of everyone at this party." (At the time, I was much thinner than I am now!) Koren has added a fun element to Katz’s boisterous poetry. The hairy, big-eyed, oddities that Koren has created are a perfect compliment to this collection of poems. 


  1. These poems are great! I love The Name's the Same and In Brief. I think its great that the author actually shares with the reader some of his personal experiences.
    I think it is important to have poems in the classroom that the students can relate to.

  2. These poems sound like really fun and silly poems that would definitely be appealing to younger students! I love that even though the poems are about really silly subjects, they still display different styles of poetry. This collection could be a wonderful way to inspire students to write their own poems about whatever subjects they like while still using some of the literary features they learn about in class.