Friday, March 6, 2015

2016 Contenders: Random Body Parts, by Leslie Bulion

What an odd book Random Body Parts is! It's a series of poems that are also riddles, the answer to which is always a part or parts of the body. Each riddle is followed by a fact box about the poem's subject, in a manner reminiscent of some of Joyce Sidman's books. And then, at the end of the book, there's a brief note about each poem, which includes the poetic structure used, and how each one incorporates a tribute or reference to Shakespeare.

The immediate reaction may be to look at this disparate set of elements and wonder if this isn't a cynical ploy to try and hit as much of the Common Core book market as possible. However, despite the diversity of its elements, Random Body Parts actually works fairly well. In general, the poems work as poetry, and the side and end notes provide interesting information in an easy-to-understand way.

I'd definitely recommend purchasing Random Body Parts for just about any library collection, and I think it may have broader child appeal than many other poetry books. I don't, however, see it generating much awards discussion. Leslie Bulion is a solid poet, especially considering the restrictions placed on her by this book's structure. When compared to works by the top tier of current children's poets, though, Random Body Parts doesn't have the otherworldly reverence of Joyce Sidman, the quiet pensiveness of Bob Raczka, the brain-twisting cleverness of Jack Prelutsky, or the formal inventiveness of Marilyn Singer. Given that those four poets have the grand sum total of one Newbery Honor between them (which belongs to Sidman, who Honored in 2011 for Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night), it's unlikely that Random Body Parts will break through and make the Newbery rolls.

Published in March by Peachtree


  1. Sounds like an interesting book! I don't read much poetry, but I might give this a try just for all the different easter eggs hidden in each poem. By the way, I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award here. No pressure if you don't want to do it. :)

    1. Aw, thanks so much!

      Even if you're not a poetry reader, I'd recommend this one if you're at all interested in biology or history :)