Gone Fishing by Tamera Will Wissinger

Gone FishingCindy: We believe that poetry should be celebrated every month (every day!) and not just during April, but here’s a perfect book for those April is Poetry Month celebrations. Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse (Houghton 2013) is a story in 40+ poems using 30+ different poetic forms. Haikus and Limericks and Free Verse are just the beginning. How about a Menu Poem or a Blues Poem or a Rondelet? Can’t discern between a Tercet and a Triolet? No worries, Wissinger has provided a “Poet’s Tacklebox” at the book’s end with definitions and instructions for a multitude of techniques and forms–perfect for the teacher or budding young poet looking to expand her poetry forms.

Sam and his dad begin the story with a “Tercet Variation” called “Night Crawlers” and the hunt…er, fishing trip…is ON.


Tercet Variation

Dark night.
Dad and I hunt worms tonight.

Grass slick.
Worms thick.
Tiptoe near and grab them quick.

Hold firm.
They squirm.
Tug-o-war with earth and worm.

Worms galore.
Set our bucket near the door.

Next day.
No delay.
Look out, fish–we’re on our way!

But by page 30 Sam is singing  the “Can’t Go Fishing Yet Blues.” His father has invited his little SISTER to go with them! Horrors! The story is full of lots of fishing details and sibling rivalry…this is a family that you know. I spent a lot of time fishing with my dad and my brother in our little row boat. Good times. I’m sure my brother was always happy to have me a long…wasn’t he?

Lynn:  We were sent this wonderful book back in the fall and with one quick read I knew this was a book that would be a gold mine for teachers.  In a wonderful coincidence, the focus group was in the midst of a poetry unit at school so I took it with me when I next stopped in at school and showed it to their teachers.  They snatched the book out of my hands faster than the speed of light and that was the last I’ve seen of it.  Every time I’ve tried to get it back, these two wonderful teachers seem to become strangely vague.  “Hmmm, well, yes, of course, we’ll get it back to you soon.”  Need I say more?  This is a book that belongs in EVERY classroom studying poetry.  Fortunately the publisher sent another galley so we could write about this terrific fun book. 

Each two-page spread features a poem in a different form.  There is plenty of reassuring white space and Matthew Cordell’s wonderful cartoon sketch illustrations add more fun to the narrative.  The overall appearance is appealing, inviting readers in to explore and play with poetic forms.  I LOVE the pages that explain the various “Poetry Techniques” and there is also a terrific bibliography with other sources that beg to be explored.  And – this is a fun story too!

And to the Waukazoo teachers – the book is yours.

Cindy: Yes, I love Cordell’s illustrations…they support the story and poems well. And as for my copy, I’m giving it to 6th grade science teacher Mr. Olson, who runs a freshwater fishing club for his students. It will be his prize for being the first follower of my new middle school library twitter account @WOPSmslibs.





About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "Gone Fishing by Tamera Will Wissinger"

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  1. edspicer@mac.com' ed Spicer says:

    So glad to see you review this one, which was a surprising smash hit–currently making the requested first grade baggy book circuit–in my class room. I see many students selecting this one when we have book center time as well! And, yes, Cordell’s illustration add just the right note! Cheers! An especially gratifying touch is when my students realize that the older brother is learning to like and appreciate his younger sister!

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