Module 14: A Kick in the Head

A kick in the head

Book Summary:

This is a collection of poems illustrating different forms of poetry.  An introduction explains that it is best to read the poem first, then read the brief description of the rules that the poet must follow for that particular type of poem, and then re-read the poems after reading the further information about the forms of poetry at the back of the book.  Colorful illustrations accompany each poem making this a fun visual book as well as giving cues about the rules of the poems.

Janeczko, P.B. (2005). A Kick in the Head: An everyday guide to poetic forms. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press


First let me say, I had no clue that this many types of poems existed in the world!!  Not to mention, this is not all, according to the author.  Whew!  That being said, I loved this book!  I am not a huge poetry fan, but do have a few favorites: Robert Frost, Shel Silverstein, Emily Dickinson, Wendall Berry, and Jane Kenyon to name a few.

Mr. Janeczko picked some memorable poetry from famous and not-so-famous poets to represent the various poetry forms.  The rules were succinctly cited below the work and a light-hearted and colorful illustration accompanied each poem.  This book would be appropriate for an adult who wants an overview of what is out there and what are the basic rules; an elementary teacher who would like to expose his or her students to new forms of poetry; and it could be used in a creative writing class for teens or adults as a fun way to cover the basics or even as a reference tool to quickly learn or review the rules of various poetry forms.  I would recommend this book for any poetry collection.

Professional Review:

*Starred Review* Gr. 4-6. The creators of A Poke in the I (2001) offer another winning, picture-book poetry collaboration. Here, each poem represents a different poetic form, from the familiar to the more obscure. The excellent selection easily mixes works by Shakespeare and William Blake with entries from contemporary poets for youth, including Janeczko. Once again, Raschka’s high-spirited, spare torn-paper-and-paint collages ingeniously broaden the poems’ wide-ranging emotional tones. A playful, animal-shaped quilt of patterned paper illustrates Ogden Nash’s silly couplet “The Mule,” while an elegant flurry of torn paper pieces makes a powerful accompaniment to Georgia Heard’s heartbreaking poem, “The Paper Trail,” about lives lost on 9/11. Clear, very brief explanations of poetic forms (in puzzlingly tiny print) accompany each entry; a fine introduction and appended notes offer further information, as do Raschka’s whimsical visual clues, such as the rows of tulips representing the syllables in a haiku. Look elsewhere for lengthy explanations of meter and rhyme. This is the introduction that will ignite enthusiasm. The airy spaces between the words and images will invite readers to find their own responses to the poems and encourage their interest in the underlying rules, which, Janeczko says, “make poetry–like sports–more fun.”

Enberg, G. (2005, March 15). [Review of the book A kick in the head: An everyday guide to poetic forms, by P. Janeczko].  Booklist, 101(14), 1291. Retrieved from

 Library Uses:

This would be a great book to use with any sort of poetry lesson or program.  The entire book could be read aloud and different poems read along with the one given in the book as an example or one or two poetic forms could be chosen and a writing program or class planned around that particular poem or poems.

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Filed under 5420 Literature for Youth

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