A Poem in Your Pocket (Mr. Tiffin's Classroom)

by Margaret McNamara (Author) G Brian Karas (Illustrator)

A Poem in Your Pocket (Mr. Tiffin's Classroom)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Once again, Margaret McNamara sets her playful, child-friendly story in the classroom, and this time, poetry--from metaphors to acrostics to haiku--is the name of the game. The focus here is on Elinor, whose confidence falters as she tries to write something "perfect" for Poem in Your Pocket Day and impress a visiting poet. G. Brian Karas's accessible, adorable illustrations add to the fun.

Includes a list of Mr. Tiffin's tips for celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day. 

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Gentle and subtle, this sensitive story teaches a lot about poetry, perfectionism, and the power of a teacher and a poet.


... a great book to share during National Poetry Month... this title shines a light on a subject worthy of discussion.

Publishers Weekly

Last seen in The Apple Orchard Riddle, Mr. Tiffin and his class are back to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day, which includes the chance to recite their poetry in an assembly starring a poet named Emmy Crane. Almost everyone embraces his or her muse, practicing figures of speech ("Math is like a knot" observes one student) and forms that range from haiku to concrete and light verse. But quiet Elinor can't find her poetry groove, and when the big day arrives, she admits, "I have nothing in my pocket. Nothing at all." Emmy Crane proves as empathic and effective a teacher as Mr. Tiffin, and Elinor finds her unexpectedly eloquent voice on stage. If the story occasionally strains credulity in its idealized portrait of contemporary school dynamics, its emotional foundation is sound, and teachers will find this an excellent road map for poetry-related activities. The amiable pictures and calm, compassionate narration should persuade even the most timorous readers that they, too, can have a poet's eyes. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Faith Hamlin, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator's agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Jan.)

Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 1-3--Elinor is a perfectionist. She loves school and takes her assignments very seriously. For Poetry Month, Mr. Tiffin teaches his class about different kinds of poetry, similes, and metaphors. Anticipating an upcoming author visit by a real poet, students are asked to write a poem and put it in their pocket. Elinor plans to wear her jeans with many pockets so she can have one in every pocket, but her obsession with perfection impedes her creativity. On the day of the visit, the child has not created anything that she considers good enough to share. When the guest asks her to read her poem, Elinor reveals that she "has a poem in the pocket of her mind." When she recites it, her words flow beautifully. This is a great book to share during National Poetry Month. Brief explanations are given for the more common poetry forms and the idea of a "Poem in Your Pocket Day" is inspiring. Pair this book with the works of Shel Silverstein, Paul B. Janeczko, Jack Prelutsky, Douglas Florian, or Robert Louis Stevenson, among others, to make a persuasive unit on the delights of the genre. Colorful illustrations of a busy classroom filled with enthusiastic students and a determined child keep the subject light and humorous. This title shines a light on a subject worthy of discussion.--Mary Hazelton, formerly at Warren & Waldoboro Elementary Schools, ME

Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Margaret McNamara
Margaret McNamara is the author of the Robin Hill School series, and she gets many ideas from her daughter's own school experiences. She lives in New York City.

Mike Gordon illustrates the Robin Hill School series and has an extensive and varied background in illustration and design. He lives with his family in Santa Barbara, California.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Schwartz & Wade Books
Publication date
January 20, 2015
Mr. Tiffin's Classroom
BISAC categories
JUV035000 - Juvenile Fiction | School & Education
JUV039140 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
JUV017080 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Other, Non-Religious
Library of Congress categories
Self-confidence in children

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