Friday, June 10, 2011

Lemonade review

Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word
by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Nancy Doniger
Roaring Brook Press
March 2011

What a fantastic and intriguing book! Raczka has accomplished something completely new to me, in these poems made up of letters from a single word. This may be as revolutionary and ground-breaking as Marilyn Singer's reverso poems, introduced in last year's poetry hit, Mirror, Mirror.

Raczka credits Andrew Russ for his introduction to this poetry form and explains how each letter appears beneath the letter of the original word. The overall effect is that of looking at a stuttering typewriter, or letters falling down like rain, forming words. There's a look to these poems almost like concrete poetry, with the careful typography proving that no additional letters have snuck in. It also means that each poem is a bit of a challenge - words and sentences aren't necessarily spaced in a traditional way. I think kids will love puzzling out what each poem says. Each poem is presented in its' original format, with a 2-color (red and black) line drawing on one page, followed by a page in red with white type, deciphering the poem in a more traditional way.

Here is one of my favorite poems in the book:





Simple, spare, effective and so true! I think this book would work well in classrooms, and I'd love to see the kind of one-word poems that this book will inspire. I highly recommend this amazing work.

I borrowed this book from the library.


  1. It's a great book, and you don't appreciate it fully until you try to write one! They're HARD to do!!!

  2. wow. sounds truly interesting. i love haiku. one-word poems are bound to be even more powerful. and I agree with what Mary Lee stated above, they are difficult to do. How to encapsulate your emotions in one perfect word, boy, that's hard. I have to look for this book in our libraries here.

  3. Wow - what a brilliant idea! I hope to use this experiment (one word - poem from its letters) with my writing students. Thanks for the heads-up about the book.



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