Great Illustrated Books

Dear Hot Dog: Poems about Everyday Stuff

By Mordicai Gerstein

Abrams, 2012
Pages : 32
Suggested Ages: 5-8
ISBN: 0810997320

The things that we don't normally celebrate – in fact, the things we hardly even notice – are center stage in this book of poems that takes us through the day, following a bunch of active, thoughtful, welcoming kids.  The subjects of the poems range from the lowly toothbrush and a pair of pants, to a breakfast cup and bowl, favorite foods – hot dogs, ice-cream cones, spaghetti – all the way to the just-right pillow.

But why should I tell you?  Listen to the poet:
    I never stop
    to think about socks,
    and if I get them
    for a birthday present
    from Aunt Adi,
    I'm disappointed.
    You can't play
    with socks. …

    In spring
    yellow-green and tiny
    you pop out
    and dress big trees
    in baby clothes …
    and for Halloween
    you wear costumes!
    some dress as flames or grapes,
    some as oranges or gold coin…

    Where do you go
    when it's dark?
    Back into lightbulbs when I turn them off?
    Do you hide in closets
    under the covers,
    or in refrigerators? …

    Maybe tonight
    I won't sleep.
    I'll just stay up,
    the darkness
    till I find

Energetic, bright-eyed children cavort on the big open colorful pages reminding us that being curious and exploring the world are the main jobs of children, and that our job as their grown-ups is to keep encouraging them to look carefully, to notice, and to question.  You hear the voices of children in every poem, making this a great book for new readers. The short poems use every-day language, familiar words mixed with some that will stretch readers, voicing the kinds of thoughts and questions all kids have.

Reviewed by :

Themes :

If you love this book, then try:

Czekaj. Oink-a-Doodle-Moo. Balzer + Bray, 2012.

Henkes, Kevin. Penny and Her Song. Greenwillow Books, 2012.

Lewis, J. Patrick. Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzles in Classic Poems. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.

Raczka, Bob. Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word. Roaring Brook Press, 2011

Critics have said

Gerstein's keen observations and unrhymed phrases offer a window into a
world in which autumn leaves fall "to the ground/ like a blanket of
colorful,/ crispy cornflakes," and a toothbrush has a foamy, gargling
life of its own.


Kids will enjoy the fanciful word pictures and colorful illustrations.