Friday, May 5, 2017

LS 5663.20 Review: Falling Hard by Betsy Franco

Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers
Edited by Betsy Franco

Franco, Betsy. Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers. New York: Candlewick Press, 2010. Print.

Poetic Elements: This is another book where the poetic elements vary quite a bit depending on the page and specific poem. The interesting thing about this book is that the poets are all such very different people. The ages are varying in the teen years, and they are written by teens from every walk of life. Still, some of them are obvious much stronger in their writing of poetry than others. Some can add the elements and the emotion to their words, while others are still trying to tell their story through more emotion and imagery, and less like a report about what happened. There are some poems that rely on figurative language, line breaks, and interesting spacing. For the most part, they follow the typical stanza format, have punctuation only at the end of sentences, and do not rhyme very much. It is important to remember that these poems are by teens and not professional poets, so reading as critically as usual will not be as important here.

Appeal: One of the greatest appeals of this book is the fact that it is written by teenagers and not a professional writer that publishes books all of the time; sometimes being older and trying to remember how it was in their teen years so that they are relate able. Students should be able to relate to some of these individuals because they are actual teens, and they are talking about love and heartbreak in a way that will feel real because it is. It may even encourage students to write their own poems when they see that others have done so, and have been published. Another appeal is the language of most of the poems. There is not as much imagery as most poetry books typically have, so young readers will not have to spend a lot of time deciphering what the poet means. Instead, the stories are pretty clearly stated and understandable, making it a faster read.

Overall Quality: How one feels about the overall quality of this book will ultimately depend on the type of texts they enjoy reading. Some will really enjoy the fact that the poems are written by teenagers, especially young readers who will be able to understand and relate the stories they share. I did not fully appreciate this, as I did not find much depth in most of the poems, and I felt that a lot of the poems lacked much emotion and impact. I do not like being so critical of these particular poems, though, as I am thrilled that students are writing poetry and allowing it to be published. Overall, this is a book that most young people will enjoy picking up off of the shelves when looking for poetry, and I think that they will find the beauty and enjoyment in the texts.

The Poets: Again, one of the most interesting parts of this book is the fact that it is not written by a professional poet, or a group of such poets. These are teenagers that are of varying ages and that come from many different walks of life. The synopsis does a great job of detailing some of the different scenarios and situations these teenagers are involved with and live through, and in many cases you can see these things play out in the poems that they write.

Layout: The layout of this poem is similar to most books of poetry that are written that do not include any illustrations. The cover is vibrant and appealing, and the tattoo-like drawing will certainly draw the attention of young adults. The synopsis on the book jacket is well written and intriguing. When students open the book they will find a large Table of Contents, listing all of the included poems, as well as an introduction to the book. There are no illustrations in the book, so each poem follows one another. Some of the poems have titles on the page, some only have titles on the Table of Contents, and each contains the poets name and age after the text.

Spotlight Poem: 

The Perfect Guy

He gives me flowers,
Rings and notes,
Jewelry, makeup,
Other things.

I return the favors;
Anything for him.
I smile with joy--
No girl could ever be so lucky--

Until reality slaps me in the face.
It's fun to pretend, 
But I must remember:
It's for her, not me.

(Valerie Garcia, age 16)

These poems are great to use because students should be able to relate and better understand them as they do not have as much imagery and figurative language included. In this particular poem, the tone and mood change from the beginning to the end, so it would be a wonderful time to review these concepts and allow students to identify the tone and mood in each stanza, where the shift occurs, and why the writer included it. 

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