THEY ONLY SEE THE OUTSIDE



Book Cover

Poems gathered herein cover a wide range of issues imposed on young children in school settings. Dakos handles difficult topics deftly. “Something Splendid,” a poem about a kid ripping a few legs off a daddy longlegs written in the voice of a disgusted, dismayed classmate, is poignant and penetrating. And the titular poem, in which a child ponders all the great things hiding inside him, shines because of its playful, accessible grace. However, the somber “Talking to the Mirror in My Bathroom,” in which a young girl musters the courage to disclose abuse to her school librarian, is placed beside a sweet, short rhyming verse about friendship across language barriers called “We Giggle the Same.” The shift is jarring. Topics aren’t the only thing that vary, as some poems rhyme, others don’t; some are short and sweet, others short stories. The selections—almost half from prior publications—seem to have been gathered with the publisher’s mission front of mind, suiting it best for a teacher’s class collection or a school counselor. For recreational purposes, it’s a discordant read. Oliver’s ink drawings enhance the overall book but can’t make up for the fact that a poem about a dead dog (On the Day My Dog Died”) is placed beside the somewhat giddy short poem “Don’t Tell Me.”



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