Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Let's face it, Poetry isn't really a favorite of kids, nor is it something they get much of in school.  I am afraid I am even guilty of it myself.  I have reviewed at least 5 books on this blog and never added a poetry label, and only mentioned they were written in free verse (I will be correcting this oversight today!)  Yet, hey are all excellent novels that can be used to introduce kids to poetry.  And then there is the very amusing novel by Greg Pincus, The 14 Fibs of Gregory K, which has a boy protagonist who likes to write poetry, much like the author does.

Gone Fishing, Tamera Will Wissinger debut book, is a new work that can be added to the list of novels written in verse.  Sam, 9, is beyond excited because he and his dad are going to go fishing together, just the two of them, without Sam's little sister, Lucy.

To get ready, they dig up some night crawlers for bait, but when Sam pulls out his tackle, what a surprise - it is full of Lucy's toys. And he finds her playing pretend fishing with his precious fishing gear.

By early next morning, though, Sam is all set and up before the sun, but so is Lucy.  They get to the lake, get the boat in the water and Sam is ready for some serious fishing.  So is Lucy.  Sam likes it quiet so the fish don't get scared away, Lucy likes to lure the fish with a song and the first fish of the day is caught by….Lucy.

Sam is seething mad, Lucy is singing and fishing.  Sam. even tries Lucy's fish songs under his breath to lure a catch, but not luck.  He just sinks lower into his anger and annoyance, begrudging Lucy each fish that she catches even as his sibling rivalry rises to the top.  Sam is determined to catch a bigger fish.  The first big one gets away, but not the second.  Sam is proud, but to his surprise so is Lucy, who cheers for him:
"You caught one, Sam!"
Lucy scoots close to me.
"A big one, too!"
I nod, gulp.
I didn't even look
when she caught
her first fish.
But she
cheered for me.
Maybe I was wrong
about bringing her along.
Gone Fishing is really about coming to terms with sibling rivalry, something all brothers and sisters eventually (hopefully) go through, learning to accept the other as a person not a competitor, annoyance, things like that.  And it is charming to see how that begins to work out for Sam and Lucy.

Adding to the fun of the poetry are the colorful, whimsical illustrations done in pen, ink and watercolor by Matthew Cordell.

But wait, that's not all there is to Gone Fishing.

Each part of Sam's fishing day is told in its own poem.  Some of the poems are in Sam's voice, some in Lucy's and some in the Dad's, and sometimes a poems has all three voices in it.  Each poem is short, have much to say and are done in different poetic forms - odes, free verse, lyric, Lucy's fish song is a poem of address, to name a few.

At the end of the book, Wissinger has included a section called The Poet's Tackle Box.  Here, she explains the different poetry techniques used, all the different poetic forms she used and they difference between rhyme and rhythm.  It is an ideal book for introducing poetry in to young students, all the more so because the poems in Gone Fishing are about kids just like them and they could even make up their own similar poems.

Even if you aren't interested in poetry, you will have lots of fun reading Gone Fishing, a fun, playful novel in verse.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL


  1. This sounds like lots of fun! I'll have to check it out.

  2. Ditto here! I love reading poetry to my children, so I'll definitely look it up.

  3. Sounds original and fun...My kids loved to fish when they were little.

  4. I have always shared rhyming books with my kids and my youngest daughter is a big fan of Shel Silverstein. We will definitely be reading this one. Thanks for sharing it on the hop.


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