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.