This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness
This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness

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Annotation: Mrs. Merz's sixth-grade class writes apology poems to various people in their lives.
Genre: Poetry
Catalog Number: #16588
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition Date: 2007
Illustrator: Zagarenski, Pamela,
Pages: 47 p.
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-618-61680-2 Perma-Bound: 0-605-13827-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-618-61680-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-13827-8
Dewey: 811
LCCN: 2006009820
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
For a poetry unit, a fictional sixth-grade class writes "sorry" poems. They like their poems so much they decide to put them together into a book and then add a second section with responses from the recipients of the "sorry" poems. The result is a captivating anthology of short poems in various styles touching on different aspects of life. Some poems are humorous, some are sad; some poets are deeply sorry, some aren't; and some kids are forgiven, whileothers are not. Topics include such things as rough play in dodgeball, stealing brownies, breaking a cherished item, and the death of a pet. The quirky illustrations, created with a variety of media, collage, and computer graphics, give a lighthearted feel to the anthology. The fictional authors of the poems are featured in various activities relating to the subject of the poems and provide a very pleasant balance to the text. Children will find much to identify with in the situations presented in the apology poems, and they'll appreciate the resolutions given in the responses.
Horn Book
This book is a collection of "sorry poems" and responses, ostensibly (but not always believably) written, illustrated, and collected by a sixth-grade class. Though the poems are not as varied in tone or style as could be desired, they provide intimate, often touching glimpses of relationships by which real classes might be inspired.
Kirkus Reviews
Providing a surprisingly effective story arc, this series of poems was inspired by William Carlos Williams's famous poem of the same title regarding a theft of plums. Anthony, one of the students in Mrs. Merz's class, becomes the editor because it was his idea to make the poems into a book and to include any responses they get to their apologies. There's a range of topics and ability in the poems, from the "Roses are red / Violets are blue / I'm still really / pissed off at you" in the response section to the difficult form of a pantoum in "Spelling Bomb." A collage-like look to the illustrations captures the child-like quality in sprightly compositions, but the conceit that these are the artwork of one of the students doesn't quite ring true. At one point, Anthony claims to have edited for language, but other poems have some words that are realistically uncensored. Despite a slight uneven quality or perhaps because of it, the whole is far more captivating than expected. Packed with the intensity of everyday pain and sorrow, kids and adults exchange the words that convey grief, delight, love and acceptance of themselves and others. (Poetry. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly

Sidman (Song of the Waterboatman and Other Pond Poems) explains, via an introduction from one of the book's sixth-grade characters, that the poems contained in this often humorous and touching anthology were inspired by the title poem of apology, which was penned by William Carlos Williams. The student in Mrs. Merz's class who introduces the book explains that some of the students received answers to their "sorry" poems. One pair of poems shares a spread and addresses a dodge ball exchange ("Sorry/ Reubs,/ for belting you/ as hard/ as I could/ in dodge ball/ I'd like/ to say/ I wouldn't/ do it again/ but I'd/ be lying"). But for most entries, unfortunately, in order to read the call-and-response in succession, readers must awkwardly flip from the first half of the book ("Apologies") to the second ("Responses"). Yet the poems successfully navigate the complicated terrain for those who seek forgiveness. In one especially moving poem, "The Black Spot," Alyssa tells her sister Carrie that the black spot of lead on Carrie's arm makes manifest the "nugget of darkness" within Alyssa that propelled her to injure her sibling (Carrie's response conveys her enduring anger at Alyssa). Zagarenski's (Mites to Mastodons) inventive mixed-media illustrations brim with items found in a classroom: a dictionary entry on "apology," for instance, becomes part of a student's clothing, and white hole reinforcements resemble a character's stolen doughnuts. But the book's odd organization seems a missed opportunity to tie the well-wrought, corresponding poems together and reinforce the complex relationships between the characters. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 4-7-Mrs. Merz assigns her sixth-grade students to write poems of apology, and what emerges is a surprising array of emotions, poetic forms, and subjects from dead pets and biting hamsters to angry siblings and betrayal of trust. The children decide to create their own book of these poems, complete with an introduction and occasional notes by editor Anthony K. Fast-talking Thomas writes a humorous poem patterned after William Carlos Williams's "This Is Just to Say," apologizing to Mrs. Garcia in the office, for stealing the jelly donuts in the teachers' lounge: "Forgive me/they were delicious/so sweet/and so gloppy." Mrs. Garcia's response poem says, "Of course I forgive you./But I still have to call your mother." A more serious concern emerges in "Next Time," written by Jewel: "Please, please come back./Don't leave me spinning alone,/like a slow, sad tornado./I'm sorry, Daddy./Next time I'll be/perfect." In the response poem, Jewel describes her father's wrenching reply telling her that, "None of the stupid things/I have ever done/are even close to being your fault." Sidman's ear is keen, capturing many voices. Her skill as a poet accessible to young people is unmatched. Zagarenski's delicately outlined collage drawings and paintings are created on mixed backgrounds-notebook paper, paper bags, newspaper, graph paper, school supplies. This is an important book both for its creativity and for its wisdom.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Word Count: 3,967
Reading Level: 3.9
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.9 / points: 1.0 / quiz: 113874 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.2 / points:3.0 / quiz:Q43158

When Mrs. Merz asks her sixth grade class to write poems of apology, they end up liking their poems so much that they decide to put them together into a book. Not only that, but they get the people to whom they apologized to write poems back. In haiku, pantoums, two-part poems, snippets, and rhymes, Mrs. Merz"s class writes of crushes, overbearing parents, loving and losing pets, and more. Some poets are deeply sorry; some not at all. Some are forgiven; some are not. In each pair of poems a relationship, a connection, is revealed.

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