Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech
Marshmallow Clouds is an intriguing book of poems. Here, former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser and poet Connie Wanek seek to play with language and encourage imaginations to run free, and they definitely succeed in their goal. For example, “Book” cleverly compares a book to a sandwich, complete with peppercorn footnotes and a leaf of romaine bookmark, while “Harpist” makes an imaginative leap to see a harp as a golden moth. Similarly, “Tadpole” is a delightful poem that compares tadpoles to commas, making them “the liveliest of all punctuation.”
That said, Marshmallow Clouds is published in an, albeit lengthy, children’s picture book format, although it relies on language skills and concepts better suited to upper middle grade to young teenage readers. Furthermore, a few of the poems may be a bit off-putting for some. For example, “Flyswatter” employs really enjoyable word play but concerns squashing a fly on a window, while “Secret” suggests secrets are badgers that claw at your chest and releasing them allows for scarring and healing.
Nevertheless, for those looking to exemplify and encourage the use of figurative language and imagination in older readers, Marshmallow Clouds provides much food for thought.
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