This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness
Sidman, Joyce. 2007. This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness. Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Caldecott Honor Award winner Joyce Sidman has created a unique look at the admission of guilt and absolution in This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness. Created by an imaginary class of sixth graders, these poems delve into long held secrets and open admissions of indiscretions, poured out from the heart, begging for forgiveness. The book is arranged with table of contents and an introduction by Anthony K., the editor, who sets up the book for the reader and explains its genesis. Part 1 consists of the Apologies, inspired by the poem, “This is Just to Say” by W.C. Williams. Part 2 are the Responses to the apologies. Sidman expertly creates the individual voices and personalities, which ‘author’ each poem. Fictitiously illustrated by Bao Vang with the help of Mr. Willow, the art teacher (in reality, the gifted Pamela Zagarenski), the book is filled with images created by mixed media on paper, canvas, and wood, collage and computer graphics which emphasize the diversity of the collection. Sidman uses Haiku, snippets, rhymes and two-part poems, which easily lend themselves to entertaining read alouds and participatory events. The reader is even introduced to a pantoum, where the second and fourth lines of each stanza are repeated as the first and third lines in the next stanza. A variety of emotions are exposed as some of the ‘authors’ feel extreme remorse to none at all. It is interesting to explore the responses of those who were wronged and learn their side of the story. Joyce Sidman’s fresh approach to a practice that deserves a little more attention shows us that ‘to err is human, to forgive, divine’.