Friday, December 2, 2022

Fall Reading 2022 Push-Pull Morning: Dog-Powered Poems About Matter and Energy


A child. A dog. A poetry collection about matter and energy? Yes, you read that correctly. Lisa Westberg Peters has put together poems on a variety of topics related to energy and matter. In "Stuff in Common" she compares the appearance of the child and pet; they don't have the same ears or feet, but they are both made of molecules. "Dog in Motion" uses repetition of phrases to describe the dog chasing a squirrel. The dog "can run straight to the tree and round and round the tree. The squirrel can run straight up the tree and round and round the branches." A pair of poems "What Will It Take?" #1 and #2 explore the concept of inertia.

Serge Bloch's illustrations capture the dog's anxious wait for the bone-shaped magnet on the refrigerator to fall off or the shadows proving that the dog is opaque to light. To accompany "Extra Electrons #2" child and dog rub noses and give each other a static electricity shock. For "Our Place in the Universe" the duo share the "story-time chair with Aunty Rosa" and become "the center of the universe."

"Dog-Powered Notes" in the back give more scientific details about each of the topics. Each poem's featured concept (inertia, paradox, etc.), is defined and then explained more fully.

The book's appeal comes in part from the antics of the child and dog. Chasing squirrels, having a bath, or trying out the super slide at the Totally Wacky Fun Park - they attract us like magnets. Combining science and poetry makes this an excellent mentor text for poetry units, especially for those teachers trying to convince students that poetry is not all mushy romantic verse. And, with the back matter for support, the poems can even be used individually to introduce a science topic and arouse curiosity.

I read a review copy provided by the publisher.

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