Friday, December 01, 2006

Poetry Friday Review: Betty Lou Blue

Have you ever been teased at school? Do you know someone who has been teased at school? Well, who hasn't! That's the beauty and universality of Betty Lou Blue, by Nancy Crocker (illustrated by Boris Kulikov).

Usually kids are teased at school because they have red hair, or they wear glasses, or they're slightly weird, or, let's face it, for any old reason. Betty Lou's reason is unusually unusual--she has especially large feet. Here's the story:

Betty Lou Blue had the world's biggest feet.
Whackety, thwackety, flappety feet.
The other kids laughed
when she whappeted by.
'If those feet were wings,' they would yell,
'you could fly!'
'If those shoes were boats,
you could float for a year!'
But whackety-flap, she'd pretend not to hear.

Despite the fact Betty Lou is suffering, Crocker's verse is snappy, "whackety" fun to read aloud.

Betty Lou's mother tries to reassure her daughter, telling her everyone's perfect, "yes, even you!" But, Betty Lou is too wise for maternal affirmations--she knows better.

One day, however, Betty Lou's lot changes. It snows in the city and all the children head out to sleigh in the park. Unfortunately, a number of them are buried in the snow. Who can help? Why a little girl with feet as large as snowshoes.

She knew what to do.
It was really a cinch--
On top of the snow,
without sinking an inch,
She stood each kid up
on the world's biggest feet
And walked each one out
to the newly plowed street.

Betty Lou Blue is an "everyone has a place in the world" tale, expertly told. Boris Kulikov's illustrations are gorgeously unique, combining Russian and urban influences (the city looks to be a combination of Brooklyn and Moscow) and a warm color scheme. His children look like animated wooden dolls, with large eyes and startled expressions.

The roundup:

Susan Taylor Brown is back this week with Mary Oliver's "The Journey."

Elaine has a wonderful review of four books of "poetry for the seasons" at Blue Rose Girls.

Nancy at Journey Woman features her own translation of Lorca's "Sonnet of the Sweet Complaint." Go, Nancy!

Susan has written a hilarious non-sensical search fib at Chicken Spaghetti. It goes downhill from "Whitbread," believe me!

Adrienne sets up a Christmas Eve Cage Match at What Adrienne Thinks About That. Head on over and participate. Go, Tasha Tudor!

Michele marks the onset of winter with some winter poetry at Scholar's Blog. Brrr is right! (Also, Michele links to the Guardian article on the National Poetry Archive, complete with audio files.)

Wendy reviews George Shannon's Busy in the Garden at Blog from the Windowsill.

Liz at A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy takes a look at the poetry books nominated for the Cybils and finds she has some reading to do!

Jules reviews another Kulikov-illustrated title (looks like the eyes are it, Jules!), Max's Words, at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

MotherReader is in with THE BEST POETRY BOOK EVER.

Kelly Fineman is in with "the small flash that is poetry" (with a little help from Plath and Sandburg. ) Speaking of Sandburg, Little Willow contributes Sandburg's "Under a Hat Rim" at Bildungsroman/Slayground.

Anne reviews Nancy Tillman's On the Night You Were Born at Book Buds.

Cloudscome has cited a very interesting poem, "It aint No," by Bob O'Meally, at A Wrung Sponge.

And, Gregory K. contributes what may be his best Oddaptation yet at GottaBook.

Keep those comments coming...