A Helpful Alphabet of Friendly Objects: Poems

Common Sense Media says

Poetry collection could become a kids' classic.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that they can rest easy: There's nothing here to worry about in terms of content. The author's poetry reflects a crisp, highly appealing writing style, and the accompanying photographs offer close-up, eye-catching views of kids, animals, and objects that young readers will love to talk about and pore over.

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What's the story?

Who can see the poetry in a vacuum cleaner and a shoelace? Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike, and he inspires his readers to see it too. His photographer son provides page after page of kid-centered images. This collection could easily become a childhood favorite.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This book is a refreshing change from typical children's alphabet or poetry fare. It assumes what most kids already know: To get their attention, you've got to appeal to their imagination and creativity. Any book that likens an icicle to "tiger teeth" and describes a vacuum cleaner as "the nosy old hummer" that "bump-rubs every corner / so every crumb / of dust and fuzz vanishes / into its hum" definitely does just that -- and more.

In addition to the music of Updike's poetry, one read-aloud group loved the photos, abundant images of kids with familiar objects that inspired discussion about the listeners' own experiences. And the endpages, which got almost as much attention as the rest of the book, feature color-block squares with alternating alphabet letters and photos from the book's main pages. At least four members of the audience made a game out of matching the letters to their corresponding objects.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the fact that the book is a collection of poems themed alphabetically from A to Z. Why did the author choose that structure? Which poem was your favorite -- and why? Parents can also challenge their kids to pick a letter from the alphabet and try to write a poem of their own about a subject that starts with that letter. For a real challenge, try Q, X or Z!

Book details

Author:John Updike
Illustrator:David Updike
Genre:Poetry
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publication date:January 1, 1995
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

This review of A Helpful Alphabet of Friendly Objects: Poems was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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