Friday, October 26, 2007

Poetry Friday -- Review: Oh, Theodore!

Oh Theodore! by Susan Katz. Ilustrated by Stacey Schuett. Clarion, 2007 978-0-618-70222-0) $16.00

This story in poems traces the developing relationship between a boy and his guinea pig. It starts off somewhat inauspiciously--when mom rejects the idea of a dog, a snake and a horse, "All I could get, was a guinea pig." And timid little Theodore takes quite a long time (ten poems!) to warm up to the boy. Until

At Last

I offer Theodore
an apple slice

He lets me pet
his head,

then purrs.
Hello, friend

I had no idea guinea pigs purred!

Theodore and the boy learn how to appreciate each other, playing with grocery bags and going out for a sit, instead of a walk. Then a ringing phone sends Theodore scurrying out of the room and he can't be found. The boy is heartbroken:

All Day

Nobody squeaked.
Nobody scurried.
Nobody nibbled.
Nobody smiled.

But all ends happily, when Theodore appears inside a cooking pot. "Theodore! Suddenly, I'm hungry."

These poems are short and direct, concentrating more heavily on conveying emotion than on wordplay; there's not a whole lot of read-aloud excitement, but Katz enlivens the free verse somewhat with varying rhythms, an occasional rhyme and a strong use of repetition, as in this poem:


the kitchen door:
Theodore sits.

the cupboard door:
Theodore sits.

But open
the refrigerator door:
Here comes Theodore!

Watercolor illustrations bring a touch of silliness to the story, giving Theodore big, expressive eyes and the impression of lively movements.

I think Oh, Theodore is overall more enjoyable read alone than aloud, but it would be a good resource for classrooms with guinea pigs or for a unit on pets. It should also be noted by anyone looking for everyday depictions of Hispanic families. (5-10)

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