Book Reviews Picture Books

Tap Dancing on the Roof by Linda Sue Park and Istvan Banyai

In honor of National Poetry Month, let me share one of my favorite favorite little books of poetry. Tap Dancing on the Roof tickles my funny bone every time I read it.

Last year, when we were doing poetry in the library, we did a number of different fun forms, including haikus, concrete poetry, and limericks. But my favorite were sijos, a kind of Korean poetry, which none of the kids had ever heard of (I won’t lie – that’s one of the reasons I liked doing them).

A sijo is like a haiku in that it has a fixed number of syllables and is three lines (or sometimes divided into six shorter lines). But the main thing that sets a sijo apart is that the last line is a twist, a joke or a surprise, that catches you off guard.

When I’d introduce it, I’d always use the first poem, titled “Breakfast”, in the book as an example of that twist at the end:

For this meal, people like what they like, the same every morning.
Toast and coffee. Bagel and juice. Cornflakes and milk in a white bowl.
Or – warm, soft, and delicious – a few extra minutes in bed.

Fun, isn’t it?

One more, for good measure, called “School Lunch”:

Each food plopped by tongs or spatula
into its own little space –
square pizza here, square brownie there;
milk carton cube, rectangle tray.

My snack at home after school?
Anything without corners.

 And the illustrations are just the perfect complement, unfussy and a little bit silly.

If you’re looking for something a little less popular in the poetry category, this is a good bet.

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  • Reply Heather April 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    oh how I love your book recommendations. Mirror Mirror was awesome, so I'm about to reserve this one next!

  • Reply Heather April 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    dangit they don't have it

  • Reply lifeofadoctorswife April 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Totally charming!

  • Reply RA April 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I thought the front cover was a square root sign, so I was all psyched up about some super geeky math poems, or some weird square-root-related syllable structure. Sad trombone.

  • Reply Janssen April 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    @RA Actually, it IS a square root sign and there IS a math poem, called "Long Division:"

    This number gets a wall and a ceiling. Nice and comfy in there.
    But a bunch of other numbers are about to disrupt the peace –
    bumping the wall, digging up the cellar, tap dancing on the roof

  • Reply paige brunt April 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    thanks for the tip. i love reading, and i always need a new poetry book.

  • Reply Carly April 26, 2011 at 1:37 am

    You never fail to disappoint! I've never heard of these (and I'm not ashamed to admit it!)… but am so excited to be introduced!

    I LOVE poetry and can't wait to jump in with both feet on this one!

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