Forgive me, but...

Forgive me but I stole your book under the glare of the bright fluorescent lights because I knew you wouldn't read it anyways. Sometimes, I want to say things like that because it’s the closest thing to being mean without blatantly doing so. It’s humorous too, because people think you’re apologizing, but after thinking it over, they realize that it’s just a disguised barb.

A couple weeks ago, HarperCollins sent me a book with collections of poems about just that. A collection of “Forgive me, but…” poems arrived on my desk (after opening the package), and I was curious. This was my first book that I had received from publishers that wasn’t an ARC. (Probably the only “real” book I’ll get from publishers. #depressed)

Maybe I’m too old to be reading this book, since it’s recommended for children ages 6 to 9 but I’ve always liked poems for children. I’ve never really liked poems that much (my fondness for them has since grown) but the poems I to read were always silly poems. They didn’t require too much interpretation on my part, which I liked because I used to hate interpreting poems. It seemed like so much work and thought. Oh, how things have changed.

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It by Gail Carson Levine (author of Ella Enchanted) is a humorous book. Each poem is entitled “This Is Just to Say” and many have allusions to famous children’s stories, such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and many more. However, I’m not really sure if children who are in the targeted age group will understand the poems. Don’t mark me wrong, the poems are hugely funny, and children can still laugh without understanding the allusions, but the poems are funnier if you understand the allusions.

The poem, “This is Just to Say” on page 53 is one such example. The poem goes,
“They sing
The Bear
went over
the mountain

leads him repeatedly
to see
other mountains

Forgive me
no one sings the ending
the landslide
and the dead bear. “

I initially read this and laughed. I read it again and found it funny. I read it with a seven year old, who also found it funny. I read it again, alone this time, for the fourth time, and I said “Oh!” It has an allusion to the children’s song that goes like “The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, to see what he could see…”

Despite my worries about young children understanding the allusions in the poems, I would tell little children to read this novel. It’s wickedly funny (as it says on the flap of the book).  Everyone should read it actually, because it’s so funny and so mischievous. 

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Maira Gall