Waiting to Waltz: A Childhood


Title: Waiting to Waltz: A Childhood Author: Cynthia Rylant Illustrator: Stephen Gammell Publisher: New York; Bradbury Press

Genre:  Poetry Level: Upper Number of pages: 47 Pub. Date: 1984


This collection of poetry tells the story of a young girl growing up. The young girl’s story is set in a town called Beaver. Her story starts in elementary school and ends in high school. The poems cover many topics including living in a single parent home, death, religion, friendship, and romance.


These poems use less rhythm and rhyme and rely instead on the imagery the poems create. This poetry is high quality and is very emotional. Unlike beginner poetry that may rely more on goof rhymes to teach children, this poetry is from the heart and tells the author’s story.


This collection of poems reminds me of my favorite poem by Margret Atwood called This is a Photograph of Me. Atwood’s poem like this collection tells a story. That is why I like it so much. Similarly, I enjoyed this collection of poems because they tell the reader a story.

It was taken some time ago
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you can see something in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or how small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion.

but if you look long enough
you will see me.)

Margaret Atwood


Before: Students will talk about what they already know about poetry and what they expect when they read a poem.

After: Students will talk about how these poems differ from what they had previously read.


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