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Poems About School Have Never Been This Cool!

New in paperback from Picture Puffin, Lunch Money and Other Poems About School explores the "ring-true" events of every school day!

Lunch Money Book Cover Image Ever...
...tried writing a book report on a book you didn't read?
...fretted about undone homework?
...prayed the teacher wouldn't call on you this time?
...been so immersed in a book that an earthquake wouldn't stir you?

If you can relate to any of those universal truths, you'll love Lunch Money and Other Poems About School! Carol Diggory Shields explores those facts of school life, and others, in 24 delightful poems for kids.

Now Diggory Shields' delightful poems are available in paperback, a brand new addition to the Picture Puffin library!

All students will relate to the realism of Lunch Money. The poems depict those "ring-true" events of an average school day -- from swapping food in the lunchroom (where so much swapping goes on that, somehow, you end up with the same food you started with!) to the relief of running into a substitute teacher at the classroom door on the very day you forgot your homework!

Kids will eagerly await the punchlines to poems such as "Eight-Oh-Three," where the main character races, races against the clock (eight-of-four eight-oh-five ) to get out the door and meet the bus. After six stanzas of racing, the breathless boy sits in his bus seat, wondering:

"I have a simple question.
I'd really like to know --
How come I have to run so fast
To catch a bus so slow?"

In "Clock-watching," we witness the opposite effect of the clock. It's one of those days when everyone's eagerly "counting the minutes till we get in line." Click, jump. Click, jump. The big hand moves laboriously toward 2:30. But, on this day, it isn't only the kids who are at the mercy of the minute hand!

"Watching that clock moving slow as glue.
Click, jump. Click, jump.
Funny, my students are watching it, too."

Among the other familiar subjects of Diggory Shields' poems "Recess Rules" explores the age-old question, Why did I get caught, when Max -- who's always breaking the rules -- never gets caught? "Amanda" takes a look at puppy-love gone awry. And then there's the touching ode to the class rat, "Rosie"!

The contagious, bouncing rhymes of Diggory Shields beg to be repeated. This is a book that kids will read over and over -- because they relate to the rhymes, and because the book is great fun! Many of the poems are perfect for choral reading in the classroom and some, including "Pledge" and "The Big, Bad Wolf" (a hilarious fractured fairy tale, as performed by the kindergarten class), beg to be acted out. Wise teachers will capitalize on the moment, brainstorming with students other classroom situations that might make good subjects for student-written poems.

Some of the poems in Lunch Money focus on the negative aspects of school. In "Decisions," one look at the choices for school lunch cinches the decision to bring lunch from home. "Outside/Inside" sets up a contrast between the drudgery of some schoolwork and the excitement of what's going on outdoors. And "Who Needs School?" questions why schools are needed when videos and calculators and computers (with spell-checkers, to boot) could easily take their place. "Just don't unplug me and I'll be fine," the poem concludes. (A tip of the hat to the illustrator for making the subject of that poem a young girl!)

Diggory Shields' rhymes are beautifully complemented by the colorful, multicultural illustrations of Paul Meisel. He captures all the mayhem and confusion of some situations, and the pure fun of others.

Lunch Money and Other Poems About School, written by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Paul Meisel, is available in hard cover and now in paperback. The new paperback edition is published by Puffin Books (May 1998). If your local bookseller doesn't have a copy of the book on hand, ask her/him to order it for you.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1998 Education World

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