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Spinning Through the Universe: a Novel in Poems from Room 214

by Helen Frost

Published by Frances Foster Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004
93 pages
ISBN: 0374371598

Ages 10-13

Helen Frost offers readers glimpses into the lives of the students and teacher who comprise a fictional fifth grade classroom. This novel in poems underscores how little we sometimes know about the people whose lives intersect our own each day and how much small acts and observations can matter. Part I of Spinning Through the Universe introduces the inhabitants of Room 214—the students, their teacher, the night custodian—, each voice speaking in a different poetic form. Each poem reveals something about the individual that, more often than not, no one else in the class knows about or sees, at least at first. The exception is Naomi, an exceptionally observant girl who notices more than anyone. Their lives are spinning independently, but occasionally they collide—in moments of tension, in acts both kind and unkind. Part II of the book is comprised of acrostics. Frost has taken a line from a poem in Part I for each character and made it the framework for the acrostic poem in that person’s voice. The lines she has chosen are, again, revealing. And just as the idea of an acrostic suggests a connectedness, the individuals in Room 214 are becoming more and more of a community—a constellation—as the school year progresses. Frost provides extensive notes on the various forms of poetry she used.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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