by Jeff McMahon & Jessica Warrick, illustrator
Leisure Time Press 22013
Age 7 and up 194 pages
“Words of wisdom, whimsey (sic) and wonder fill this collection of tall tales and silly stories. As you wander through the pages you just may come across a rare Giraffapotamus, or meet The Remarkable Hector McTwee, and maybe even ride on a Unicorncycle. There are Cannonballs and Cartwheelers, Tree Climbers and Trampolinists, Moon Swimmers and Moose Riders, and an amazing assortment of funny, strange, and unforgettable rhymes that will keep you wondering just what’s coming next.”
“I finally think I got it right, / lord knows I paid my dues. / I’m very pleased / to demonstrate/ my super / suction-shoes. // They let you walk / on walls like / Spiderman for Halloween. / They’re really very powerful / and you’ll see what I mean. // It’s just so darn exciting, but / I can’t help that I’m feeling / a little dizzy since I wound up / stuck here on the ceiling.”
The first thing I noticed upon unwrapping the book is the binding. The spine squares off the cover for sharp edges and an expensive feel. The book cover replicates the dust jacket – a plus for librarians. This is one of those books that is enjoyable simply holding it. I love the cover image. A young boy in swim trunks, snorkel, and fins swimming in water to the half-submerged old-fashioned cratered moon. On the back cover is an island that lays behind the moon.
Starting at the end, Swimming to the Moon ends with a thank you poem titled, I’d Like To . . .. This is one of the better poems in terms of mechanics. The different things this poem wants to do are unrelated except for an excuse why the something will not be done.
I’d like to go outside now but
they say it looks like rain.
I’d like to be a genius
but I haven’t got the brain.
I’d like to feel better
when I’m feeling kind of strange.
I’d like to have the answers
but the questions always change.
I like the humor in I Threw a Rock. The poem explains the ripple effect of our actions. No matter how small the first action may seem, it will grow bigger as it continues on its way, affecting things along the way. I am not fond of the first verse, which is on an odd beat. Let’s start at verse 2:
I threw a rock
that hit a tree
that scared a squirrel.
The squirrel jumped
(as squirrels can).
and landed on
who screamed and took off
down the street
and ran the shoe
right off his feet.
Then a newspaper clings to the hot shoe, catches fire, blows away, lands on a garage roof, and burns a car. The car belongs to the rock thrower’s father. The rock slinger is surprised at what can happen when you throw a rock. The rock can be a real rock, a rumor, or even a bad name. A multipurpose poem, perfect for parents.
Swimming to the Moon contains nearly 200 pages of poems, each with an illustration reminiscent of Shel Silverstein. Some poems are fun; others are funny. Kids age 7 and up will enjoy these interesting kid-sized poems. Those who demand the rules of poetry be strictly adhered to will be disappointed. Meter, rhythm, and rhyme are occasionally skewed. Some of the poems read more like sentences arbitrarily cut into four line stanzas, without regard to how they read. Being stuck or tongue tired became the biggest result I encountered while reading, though to be honest, that can happen at any time. Many of the poems resemble high school poetry in size and contents. But, and this is a BIG-BIG BUT, the poems will entertain kids. The author is not the poet laureate, but he is interested in writing to engage children. That he has accomplished.
Geared toward middle grade kids, Swimming to the Moon will teach and entertain kids of all ages, sent straight to the brain for processing. Kids will never know what hit them. Well, My Time is Running Out.
I built a clock with legs
so it could walk and move about,
but I left the front door open,
and now time is running out.
Swimming to the Moon would seem to be an impossible task, but did you know there is a group of people, led by a fearless “suzymoon,” attempting that feat right now? Yep, it’s true. You can check it out right HERE. One lap around Earth will get the group to exit velocity, then they head toward the Sea of Tranquility. All the way to the moon will take 10 million laps in an Olympic size pool. Maybe a group will try Running to the Moon, which also happens to be the title of Jeff McMahon’s next book for kids. The cover is below.
Learn more about Swimming to the Moon HERE.
Book #2: Running to the Moon – coming soon
SWIMMING TO THE MOON. Text copyright © 2013 by Jeff McMahon. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Jessica Warrick. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Leisure Time Press, Temecula CA.
Suzymoon’s swimming to the moon website (in case the link breaks): http://swimtothemoon.blogspot.com/