Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices

by Paul Fleischman and Beppe Giacobbe

After reinventing choral reading for children with his poetry for two voices in Joyful... read more

After reinventing choral reading for children with his poetry for two voices in Joyful Noise (1988) and I Am Phoenix (1985), both published by Harper, Paul Fleischman stretches further with a daring foray into poetry for twice as many voices. The three poems in this volume hold such enormous appeal that young readers will be itching to try them out aloud. “The Quiet Evenings Here” celebrates the small noises of a family that prefers to stay at home. “Seventh Grade Soap Opera” offers short bursts of teenage gossip. “Ghosts’ Grace” features the delicious patter of unseen dinner guests who comment on the things they most miss about eating: “To do battle with butter / brick‑hard and defiant / in wintertime / soft and servile / in July. / I’m hungry for hunger! / What rapture, that tug in the stomach / when butter and rolls are close by!” As Fleischman explains in an introductory note, each poem gets progressively more challenging to read aloud. He has included helpful instructions for interpreting the design that uses four color‑coded, horizontal bars to delineate the speakers and arrange the words almost like musical notes. It’s a bit tricky but with some practice, the poems are likely to be as much fun for the listeners as they are for the speakers. Beppe Giacobbe’s buoyant color illustrations add a lively humor without detracting from the poems. (Ages 9‑14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2001

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