Friday, April 19, 2019

Poetry Friday: The Day the Universe Exploded My Head: Poems to Take You into Space and Back Again by Allan Wolf, illustrated by Anna Raff

The Day The Universe Exploded My Hear by Allan Wolf,
illustrated by Anna Raff
Candlewick Press, 2019, 56 pages

Welcome to a universe unlike any you've ever known before. In a series of anthropomorphic poems, your young readers will laugh as they learn some fun facts about our solar system and it's relationship with man. Each planet, their moons, the stars in the sky, Planet X, eclipses (solar and lunar), even a black hole get their say. One of my favorites is called "The Children of Astronomy." It's told from the point of view of Galileo, often called the Father of Astronomy, and is an homage to all the scientists from the antiquity (Ptolemy) through the present, people like Carl Sagen and Stephen Hawking (and hopefully in the second edition, we will see Dr. Katie Bouman, the woman who developed the algorithm that captured the first ever image of a black hole in among all those men). There's even a memorial page to those astronauts and cosmonauts who gave their lives to travel in space (but, says the educator, no mention of the lone teacher, Christa McAuliffe). There's even an poem dedicated four aging rockets called "The Rusty Rockets Retirement Garden. But my favorite by far is the titular poem "The Day the Universe Explored My Head, a "Poem for One Human, One Heart, and One Brain." It, like others in this book, is color coded so the reader knows who is speaking.

The Day The Universe Exploded My Head is one of the funniest fact-based poetry books I've read in a long time. The illustrations are done with sumi ink washes, salt, pen and pencil, and digitally assembled color collages, and they are every bit as humorous as the poems, capturing the spirit of each one perfectly. Back matter includes Notes on the Poems, a Glossary of Selected Space Terms, Internet Resources.

This is a book my young readers and I will be reading and exploring over and over again. Each and every poems deserved its review.

And since Monday, April 22, 2019 is Earth Day, I thought I would share Earth's poem with you:

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Candlewick Press

Poetry Friday is a weekly blogging event in which poets, writers, readers, and lovers of poetry share blog posts about poetry. Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm


  1. Ooh, that question at the end. Allan Wolf is a genius. I cannot wait to read this book and so look forward to introducing him, Irene Lathan, and Connie Pertuz-Meza for an NCTE panel this fall. Thank you for sharing this book! Happy Poetry Friday!

  2. I'm SO looking forward to this book!

  3. Thanks for featuring this book today. Am curious to see it, and enjoyed your review. :)

  4. "The whole human race on a small blue ball." is a humbling thought, isn't it? I have shared this book, too, Alex, and enjoyed every part, love nf poetry that shares facts in a beautiful way! Thanks for your review!

  5. As I go on walks and play with my 22 month old grandchildren I marvel at how everything is its own being. I was brought up to see anthropomorphic thinking as inferior, but now I think that the earth and we ourselves might be better off if we could be like my grandchildren and see all living things as our equal.
    I will be looking forward to getting this book!

  6. Oh, this sounds like so much fun! What a good way to make science more appealing to kids who might prefer fiction or poetry, and to make poetry more palatable to kids who prefer nonfiction!

  7. This collection sounds like such a unique, fun, and interesting take on the solar system. I look forward to reading it, too. Thanks for sharing.

  8. This book looks beyond delightful--out of this world. I look forward to reading more from it


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