Wong, Janet S. 2003. KNOCK ON WOOD: POEMS ABOUT SUPERSTITIONS. Ill. by Julie Paschkis. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books. ISBN: 0-689-85512-5
(2) Plot Summary
KNOCK ON WOOD is a collection of 17 poems about superstitions. Subjects include black cats, four leaf clovers, luck horseshoes, broken mirrors, and the number 13- often deemed unlucky by some people. The book gets its title from the final poem “Wood.” Janet S. Wong includes a section briefly discussing the superstitions. The final page is devoted to the author’s personal notes.
(3) Critical Analysis
The poems are written in free verse and she makes little use of rhyme. There are very few sound elements. Wong uses language to shows feelings and tones.
oak for a mind whose grain runs deep,
pine for the soft-hearted,
cedar for the clear conscience.
The imagery is a little weak but the illustrations compensate for it. Paschkis watercolors are amazing and are in some cases strong than the accompany poem as in “Ears,” “Garlic,” and “Hair.” Paschkis represents children of many different ethnicities in illustrations making the collection multicultural.
(4) Review Excerpt(s)
Booklist: “Filled with mystery, magic, and hidden worlds, these are poems to liven up language arts classes and to spark discussions about personal beliefs.”
School Library Journal: “Humor, satire, subplots, historic references, and decorative and surreal elements abound in artful profusion. There is much to ponder in both words and pictures.”
*Have students read other books about superstitions:
Gay, Kathlyn. Keep the Buttered Side Up: Food Superstitions from Around the World. ISBN 0802774695
Jenkins, Steve. Duck’s Breath and Mouse Pie: A Collection of Animal Superstitions. ISBN 0395696887
*Have the class discover the science behind some superstitions:
Ruchlis, Hyman. How Do You Know it’s True?: Discovering the Difference Between Science and Superstition. ISBN 0879756578
Winner, Cherie. Circulating Life: Blood Transfusion from Ancient Superstition to Modern Medicine. ISBN 0822566060
*Children can visit Childrens Books Site Index of Superstitions: http://www.childrensbookssite.com/Superstition_index.htm