I am working on Post Graduate studies in the verse novel technique for children/YA. I am always fascinated by the genre both as a poet and reader.
And first up I have written a review of the wonderful poet Kat Apel's new verse novel, 'What the Snail knows' available from UQP.
Kat Apel has given us a wonderful verse novel in ‘What Snail knows,’ UQP illustrated by Mandy Foot.
Lucy is in her early years at school, and the plot theme is stated immediately. Dad says, ‘It’s just you and me Lucy.’
It becomes a refrain through the first half of the novel.
But a new motif challenges this. Lucy has a new companion, a snail, already equipped with travelling baggage and adaptable. But Lucy can’t be that adaptable to constant change.
As Lucy goes to yet another new school, the text evolves to shape moving down the road. The titles of the poems are portals to enter the narrative.
Features that stand out for me are the dialogue of the student, so economical. It provides a rhythmical read. Here’s a sample involving the topic ‘Homework’.
Roxie: This week, it really is home work!
Jack: Can we cook toast? Does that count?
Heidi: What if we don’t have a dog?
Kat weaves environmental themes throughout her narrative. What a triumph is the rhyming Cane Toad poem as the class is challenged by their teacher to become involved in caring for the environment. There is even a recipe for beeswax wraps!
Concrete poems are also weaved throughout the text – like the heart shaped poem called ‘I heart the Harts’, towards the end of the book.
There is much for the reader to savour in the unfolding plot, the richness of the classroom compared to the spareness of Lucy’s caravan life. And we are thrilled as all the threads come together in a satisfying ending. A great read! A great addition to Australia’s innovative verse novel stream.