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Susan Ioannou
Toronto, Wordwrights Canada, 1992.24pp, paper, $5.00
ISBN 0-920835-10-4. CIP

Grades 1 to 12/Ages 6 to 17

Reviewed by Maryleah Otto.

Volume 21 Number 4
1993 September

For many years Susan Ioannou has brought her love of poetry to her work as a teacher, editor, author and publisher. As Director of Wordwrights Canada Editing and Author Services, she produces handbooks on writing and leads creative writing work­shops in schools. A visit can be arranged by contacting the League of Canadian Poets.

Read-aloud Poems is a slim booklet of twenty-three poems for students in elemen­tary, junior and senior high school. The poems are arranged in three groups accord­ing to grade level. Since the booklet is primarily a teaching aid, it contains a wide range of styles and themes. Younger children can read about playing in the snow or in puddles, or about monsters and magic boots, or cats and squirrels. The middle grades are treated to poems with themes that swing from the sublime mysteries of the universe to the ridiculous tale of a curiously shrinking cat that literally goes "down the drain." Older students can read about caring for the environment, death, personal relationships, and a wonderfully comic ballad about old man Sturdwell's revenge on a neighbour's bothersome cat.

Ioannou says in her introduction, to the teacher, "I hope these poems will whet poetic appetites, by showing how sound and image not only capture everyday experience, but also give shape and meaning to our fears and dreams." I think she has achieved her goal in these selections. Children in the elementary grades will know exactly how the little boy in "Snow Boy" feels when he comes in from a game of whizz-ball:

Mittens steam dry,
Pink cheeks warm,
hot-chocolate happy,
snug as popcorn.

Junior high students, reading of the unfortunate feline who went down the drain, will enjoy these lines:

Has she flushed into the lake
slowly to evaporate
into growling clouds that rain
cats and dogs on windowpanes?

And senior classes will find many word-pictures in "Porches":

Some uphold uncles in undershirts,
sagging chairs and bottles of beer.
Others, smoothed grey stone,
tilt guests off into moonlight
after much wine,
or, drab as a pre-poured smile,
ease old ladies down.

It's too bad this booklet is so flimsy. It would have to be kept in a pamphlet file. Recommended for school libraries.

Maryleah Otto is a children's author and librarian in St. Thomas, Ontario.
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