A Poem in Your Pocket by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
The third in the Mr. Tiffin’s Classroom series, this book focuses on Elinor, a girl who just wants everything to be perfect. Unfortunately though, poetry and perfection really don’t work together no matter whether you are talking haikus, concrete poems or rhyming stanzas. A poet is going to be visiting their school and Elinor desperately wants to impress her with her poetry. But as the time goes by, the pressure builds and Elinor becomes less and less able to write poetry. When she finally does start writing, she’s not happy with any of the poems she has written. Can the kind teacher Mr. Tiffin find a way to let Elinor know that it’s OK to make mistakes? Maybe this is a job for a poet!
This is a wonderful addition to an already strong series. McNamara “perfectly” captures the trap of perfectionism for students and the pressure that it builds in a person. Tying it to poetry was inspired, something that doesn’t work with tension or pressure but instead relies on inspiration and creativity. Elementary students will see themselves in both Elinor and her classmates who are more relaxed about the entire thing. Watch for the poem that ties to How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? for fans of the series.
Karas’ illustrations continue in his signature style that is playful and friendly. His drawings add to the accessibility of the entire book and the series as a whole.
A winning addition to a popular series, this third book will delight during poetry units and may inspire a more relaxed approach to writing too. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Schwartz & Wade and Edelweiss.