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Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems

Review

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems

written by Gail Carson Levine, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

You know how it is. You've done something that you really are not sorry for --- and maybe you mean to apologize to the slighted party or (more likely) maybe you don't, but you have to say something. When well-known poet William Carlos Williams snitched and devoured the luscious plums someone else was looking forward to eating for breakfast, Williams wrote a not-quite-an-apology poem, which actually seemed to gloat a bit over the fact that he had gotten to those delicious plums first. That mean but funny spirit inspired author Gail Carson Levine to pen this series of her own "false apology poems," which are augmented to great effect by the outrageously expressive illustrations of Matthew Cordell.

"Fans of Shel Silverstein's wry verses are sure to devour Gail Carson Levine's with intense pleasure and much laughter, no apologies needed."

Some of the poems, as might be expected from an author who writes fairy tales, feature fabled characters, such as the enterprising fellow who bulldozed the briar hedge surrounding a certain snoozing beauty's castle, in order to charge sightseers to gawk at it. Is he sorry? Not so much! Neither is a certain well-known fairy tale character who is heartily sick of the dwarves' snoring, nose-picking, and foul personal hygiene. Although she says the token "forgive me," she appears to be gleefully contemplating her escape plan. Readers also discover what really happened when Jack fell down and broke his crown. The not-so-sorry instigator of the nursery rhyme achieves a surprising goal. Also lacking in the sincerity department is a witch's apology regarding the gingerbread cottage she knows will be irresistible to her future meals --- I mean "visitors."

Fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters are not the only ones fake-apologizing, though. A mother tells her offspring they are eating at Aunt Mildred's, "although you will likely throw up when we get home." She's faux sorry to inform her children that Mildred made her special dish (peppermint-spinach pudding) just for them. Somebody who devoured someone else's hot fudge sundae may be (or probably is not) apologizing for replacing the cherry on top of the treat with anchovies and sharing ice cream with the cat. A sibling almost apologizes for "fixing" his sister's cherished Barbie. And, by the way: See that purple stain on the prom dress you didn't get to wear? The girl who wore it kind of, sort of, not really apologizes for the stain acquired when she wore your dress to Prom and danced all night with your boyfriend: "Forgive me."

Parents are probably not overly delighted to receive fake apologies from their children, including the son who "recieved" his Joon report card. He's sorry to tell his parents he will be held back…so far that "the kids in my new class ain't been born yet." Another set of parents learn via poem that their child-rearing style is soon to be hampered after a genie grants wishes eliminating phrases such as "grounded" and "time-out."

Fans of Shel Silverstein's wry verses are sure to devour Gail Carson Levine's with intense pleasure and much laughter, no apologies needed. As a bonus, the author shares her fake-apology know-how with readers. That means we can pen some hilariously mean-spirited, not-exactly-pleading-for-forgiveness poems of our own.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on April 30, 2012

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems
written by Gail Carson Levine, illustrated by Matthew Cordell