What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem

illus. by Lee White. 112p. S. & S./Atheneum. Feb. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481423557; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481423571.
Gr 3–6—In this newest collection of poetry, Viorst captures the experience of childhood through 11 rich categories, such as school, family, friends, and seasons. With a rhyming narrative, humor, and a sampling of haiku, Viorst touches on themes relevant to children, including losing friendships, bullying, coping with bothersome siblings, and facing fears. White's soft, whimsical illustrations help create an imaginative space for readers to explore troubling emotions. In "The Best and the Worst," for instance, a young boy walks a tightrope of Christmas lights between his parents, with his dad offers a surfboard on one side and his mom a horse on the other. Viorst writes, "They'd promise me Hawaii/They'd promise me a horse,/If that made me not notice/They're getting a divorce." Other, more humorous verse lightens the mood. In "Arithmetrick," Viorst challenges kids to take any number, and after a series of calculations, they'll realize they end up with the number 10. Children will delight in figuring out the trick and trying it out on others.
VERDICT Although there are missteps with some rhymes, generating an uneven selection, Viorst's comedic talents, ability to engage readers, and coverage of universal topics make this an appealing choice.

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