Children’s Poet Laureate Monthly Book Picks

Each month, the Children’s Poet Laureate recommends a book of poetry for children. Selections include classics of children’s literature, adult collections that are well-suited to children, as well as newly published books.

Rhyme Schemer

Kenn Nesbitt’s October 2014 Book Pick

Rhyme Schemer

by K.A. Holt

Chronicle Books October 2014

K.A. Holt’s Rhyme Schemer is more than just a collection of poems. It is the sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching journal of 12-year-old Kevin, the self-proclaimed “king of the seventh grade.” Kevin is a bully with a secret; he likes writing poetry. He writes free-verse poems about the targets of his bullying, about his neglected by his parents and mistreatment by his older brother, about his teacher’s mole and his principal’s ugly ties. He also creates his own special brand of “found poems” by tearing pages out of classic novels and circling words and letters, and drawing lines and arrows to construct new poems from existing texts.

When Kevin’s secret is discovered by Robin, one of his victims, he goes from bully to bullied, and finds out what it’s like to have the tables turned. And, with the help of Mrs. Little, the wise librarian who supervises his detentions, he discovers a lot about life, art, and himself.

What makes this book so thoroughly readable, though, is Holt’s remarkable ability to bring Kevin to life in verse. He is snarky, sarcastic, funny, and utterly compelling as a living, breathing, sympathetic boy. Each transition of this story of (and about) poems will have you rooting for him, looking forward to his ultimate success, and the approval of his family he so desperately needs.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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