Review of "Blue Lipstick"

Grandits, John.  Blue Lipstick. Sandpiper. 2007. ISBN: 9780618851324

Jessie is teenage girl who has a Mom and Dad, a cat named Boo-Boo Kitty, and a little brother Robert.  Boo-Boo Kitty is on her side all of the time while Robert is on her side half of the time.  Jessie has a few ups and downs with turning her hair blue, dealing with her little brother, getting to volleyball practice, putting up with cheerleaders and jocks, or having difficulty in her classes.  But she ends up finding a bright side to all of her problems when her mother calls her a woman in reference to “every woman has a bad hair day” and when she discovers that Andrea is a cool guitar playing cheerleader.

As a concrete poem book that has a central theme, it is a very well crafted book.  As Vardell states, “Consider the theme or topic, organization and design, length and breadth, balance and variety of poems, use of illustrations, inclusion of reference aids, and appeal to the audience” (125).  This book is centralized to the story of Jessie but the way the poems are all different is really exciting.  Having to put your book up to a mirror and twisting it around in circles so you can read the poem is really a hands-on activity that really would engage a young reader. 

Voice of Youth Advocates (Aug 1, 2007) reviewed the book by saying, “Others seem to require a lot of eye gymnastics, which is more effort than some readers might want to exert for not getting a whole lot back. Teens might be enticed to pick up the book with its cover in the shape of a mirror poem with a shimmery silver background, but they will likely be disappointed that the voice wavers between authentic and adult-speak throughout.”  I agree with this maybe be a bit too much for some readers, especially reluctant readers.  However, it may have the opposite effect because the poetry is so small and the pictures would draw them in.  Reluctant readers are constantly looking for the book with the least amount of pages and the biggest type when required to do a report.  This could very well draw in a middle school female reader who isn’t a big fan or reading – especially poetry.

Since most students aren’t big poetry fans at any age, I like that this can show how poetry can be fun.  Amazon suggests that the companion book, Technically, It’s Not My Fault be read as well.  I think that using books like this for poetry to be included in a Poetry Unit would really show a different type or poetry and a fun side to the genre.  I would use this and Grandits’ other concrete poetry book to be read in class, in groups, discussed, then give students the opportunity to write their own concrete poems.

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