Friday, July 15, 2016

Outside the Box (Karma Wilson)

Title:  Outside the Box

Author:  Karma Wilson         

Illustrator:  Diane Goode

Target Ages:  7 and up

Genre:  Poetry Collection

Publisher Summary:
When you think outside the box…poems about Pigasus appear!  Not to mention Horaceopotamus, Gargantuans, and all sorts of monkey business. You can snack on Greekwiches, build a pet robot, then dance with the Boogie Man.  Fly the largest kite, sleigh down the steepest hill, and find all those aliens under your bed!  Anything can happen outside the box.  Now, won’t you join us for a read! 

Appealing to kids and parents alike, Dive in to Karma Wilson’s latest collection of more than 100 poems—some humorous, some poignant, and all of them Outside the Box.

Sample Poems:

All my friends are jealous.
Oh, how they envy me.
I lived through something terrible,
and all-out tragedy!

It happened on the playground.
I was playing all alone,
and then it came and cornered me
and chilled me to the bone!

I tried to run away and hide
but found no way to flee.
I backed into the playground fence
with it pursuing me.

And then the worst thing happened,
an act so dark and bleak.
Mary Ellen Burkenshire
kissed me on the cheek!


Somehow I survived it,
and my friends are having fits.
(But I won’t tell a soul,
I like it…just a bit.)

“Spider Trap”
Don’t kill helpless spiders if you see ‘em.
It’s absolutely better if you free ‘em.
So never, ever kill those spiders dead.
Set them loose (but in your sister’s bed.)

"I (heart) Salad!"

I can't wait to eat that salad you're making'
with crunchy croutons, loads of bacon,
creamy ranch, and bits of cheese.
A side of crusty French bread, please.
I love salad, without a doubt.
(But could you leave the veggies out?)

This entertaining collection of poems reminds me a lot of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends—lots of childhood fun and unexpected turns. The black and white sketches by Caldecott winner Diane Goode provide additional energy and imagination.

There are a wide variety of types of poems, such as concrete, shape, narrative, holiday, and occasional. Each deals profoundly and humorously with childhood experiences and fears. Wilson does an apt job taking a fear—the dark, aliens, vampires, and such—and making it funny or even empowering! For instance, the alien under the bed is really just a sandwich that has become moldy.  Also, in "Sheet!" a child is afraid of the dark.  However, he just needs to use the "force field" of his "impenetrable, magical sheet" to keep all the frightening creatures away.  

Irony, hyperbole, and fun word play are abundant.  In "The Tattler" the speaker ironically pleas with the the teacher to punish Dale for tattling.  A roller coaster experience is described with vivid imagery and hyperbole in "The Great Gargantuan."  Several poems play with word meaning, such as "Greenwich" and "Definition of  a Unicorn." For more teaching ideas, click HERE.

The unexpected turns is one of my favorite parts of the collection.  An elaborate discussion of missing candy in "Thieves" is implied to really be the parents rather than an outside thief.  "Wishy Washy" illustrates the fickleness of crushes and birthday wishes. The "Gamer" who brags all the time and hogs the controls is not who you would expect. Many of the poems take similar turns.

The theme of Outside the Box is thinking and seeing the world in a fresh and unexpected way. The collection succeeds at depicting new perspectives as well as illustrating elaborate imagination and infusing lots of humor.  People of all ages will enjoy these poems.

               Visit A Year of Reading for the full Poetry Friday round up!


  1. Those are endearing, and you're right. They do remind me of Shel Silverstein. I especially like the tension and surprises in Ick...Gross...Ew. :-)

  2. The book sounds like it has something for all ages. New to me, so thanks for sharing!

  3. This book is indeed Shel Silverstein-like: fun, enjoyable to read, and humorous. Thanks for sharing.

  4. My kind of book for sure! Thanks for sharing. I agree the whole look and "sound" is very Shel Silverstein.

  5. My favorite is "I (Heart) Salad"--I know a vegetarian a bit like that! I bet my 2nd graders would love it too.

    1. I liked that one a lot too. I was just referencing it today at lunch as my son was being picky about his salad. I think a lot of people relate :)

  6. Yay! Another book to look for at the library. Thanks for the reminder about this book, it has been a while. =)

  7. This sounds like a terrific book to add to my poetry collection! Definitely want to get my hands on it before school starts in August!

  8. I like the sound of the book. I can't wait to read it!


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