Feb 27, 2012

The Benefit of a Bad Example

This week I received the ARC for Gail Carson Levine’s new book of poems, Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems. Illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Harper)

At only eighty pages, this little collection is jammed full of poems sharing the title, form, and unrepentant attitude of the famous William Carlos Williams poem:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

In an introduction that doesn't appear until page eighteen (after many poems have had their say), Levine lays out the simple pattern then challenges readers to write some, too. Her offerings involve topics ranging from fairy tale twists to sibling blackmail and beyond. Levine's wry perspectives and Cordell's wickedly clever line drawings put me in mind of a timeless favorite of my early years, Edward Lear.

As Edward Lear’s two hundredth birthday approaches, a year-long celebration of his life and life's work is underway.

There are many titles to explore, in books and online, but I love His Shoes Were Far Too Tight, by Edward Lear, Masterminded by Daniel Pinkwater, Illustrated by Calef Brown. Featuring colorfully portrayed favorites, this begins with Pinkwater’s biographic salute to Lear.

Lear was a game changer in children's literature, instrumental in generating a paradigm shift from “morality tales” about good boys and girls to stories and poems that were purely entertaining, (even if sometimes just a tad scandalous).

Pinkwater's blurb on the back fold shares his initial discovery of Lear. Like Pinkwater, I remember my first time, so to speak. I found a tattered collection of Lear limericks on a weekly library search and promptly proceeded to read anything with his name on it. Then I read them all again. And again.

From the inimitable "The Owl and the Pussycat" to his lyrical "A is for Apple" and on to his limericks (my personal pick as favorites), Lear never settled for the mundane, embracing nonsensical images and playful language that tickle the ear and the mind.
(Side note: Lear's line art can be seen on the introduction page of this book and in many online examples.)

I consider any comparison to Lear high praise indeed, and it's well-earned in Newberry-honored Levine's sassy and stimulating collection of false apology poems. I can't imagine anyone reading this without a smile.

And so, Ta-Da... my first give-away is officially launched:

Contest Rules!

Prize- One ARC of FORGIVE ME, I MEANT TO DO IT: False Apology Poems, by Gail Carson Levine, Illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Harper).

To Enter- Leave a comment on this post. Just say hello, if that’s all you want to do. But I’d love to read your thoughts about the post or the blog in general.

Deadline- Between midnight, February 26 and 6:00 AM, Wednesday, February 29.

Winner Selection: Selection from all entries will be completed using Random.org
If an alternate is needed, remaining entries will be resubmitted to Random.org.

Winner Notification- Winners will be announced on March 1, here and on Twitter @PBWorkshop. To be contacted directly, include your email address or twitter@ in your comment. Without contact information, winner must respond no later than Sunday, March 4 or another name will be selected.

Who May Enter- Everyone is welcome, but the prize will be mailed only within the USA. If you are from another country and want to enter anyway, the book can be mailed to someone you know in the USA.

Psssst- pass it on....


  1. I would love to read this! I have loved Gail Carson Levine's books since I was young. I hope I win.

  2. Unless someone else pops in with a comment by the end of the day, it will be yours, Julie. Thanks for stopping by, and I know you'll enjoy it if it ends up in your hands.

  3. Yay!:) Thanks so much. Shall I send you my information?


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