One thing I've noticed about the Cybils Poetry Finalist books is that several of them seem to fit better in other categories. I'm remembering Borrowed Names, which I liked much better as a biography than a poetry book, and now Scarum Fair, which is a pleasant picture book but not really an earth shaking poetry collection.
Jessica Swaim's short poems wander through a ghoulish county fair, with skeletons and crocodiles and eerie sights, and the colorful yet spooky illustrations of Carol Ashley blend with the verses with charm. But the poems and the pages are tightly linked; no poem really rises out of the book to stand on its own. This meant that my fourth grader settled happily into reading the whole thing with me, despite hearing that it was "officially" a poetry book; it felt like a picture book about the fair, complete with a tiny plot moving from the front pages to the back. A fun picture book, but not prize-winning poetry. C (although a B+ as a picture book)
Our favorite page? "A Snap Decision" about the Crocodile Slide:
It's time to go, so you pick one last ride.
You climb to the top of the Crocodile Slide
and land at the bottom, in Thrash-a-Lot Lake,
with others who've made the same stupid mistake.
P and I thought that Shark in Shark Vs Train would have done a lot better at the Carnival Ride contest if he had set up in this fair, where more people would have passed the "You must be this Crazy to go on the Ride the Shark ride" sign. Oh, links to Cybils books are meant to support the Cybils committee.