cover image BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP MY BIKE: And Other Poems


Karen Jo Shapiro, , illus. by Matt Faulkner. . Charlesbridge/Whispering Coyote, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58089-035-9

This collection of light verse is more amusing in its concept than in its execution. The 26 poems are not exactly parodies, but each echoes a work by a well-known poet in its rhyme scheme or topic. Shapiro includes "apologies" to cite her models. For example, the tag "With apologies to Robert Burns ("A Red, Red Rose")" precedes Shapiro's "A Red, Red Nose": "Oh! My nose is like a red, red rose/ That's newly burnt in June." While readers may get a chuckle out of twists on familiar lines, Shapiro's more obscure burlesques may befuddle even sophisticates, e.g., the opening entry plays off lines in Cymbeline ("Bark, Bark! It's dark!" writes Shapiro). On the other hand, the title poem, based on Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death," is funny whether the reader knows Dickinson's poem or not: "Because I could not stop my bike/ it kindly stopped for me./ Unluckily, it did not stop/ until it hit a tree." Like the poems, Faulkner's (Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving) watercolored pen-and-ink caricatures are serviceable, but they lack the imagination and verve of his previous work. Ages 7-12. (July)