100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Review: Lemonade by Bob Raczka

Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word
By Bob Raczka
Illustrated by Nancy Doniger
Roaring Brook Press
ISBN: 9781596435414
Grades 1-6
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Give me one month and every word in the English language and I can write you a bad poem. One year? You’ll likely get about the same result. You could say I have difficulties with the form. That being my background, I marvel at books like Lemonade, that operate within very limited guidelines yet manage to produce top notch results.  A book that will amaze and then enlighten. That’s a pretty solid one-two punch.

In creating this collection, Raczka was inspired by the one word poems of Andrew Russ.  As explained on the first page, Russ will take a word – rain, for example – and craft a poem using only words that share the letters “r” “a” “i” and “n”. Here’s what it looks like:



These guidelines are fairly simple in explanation, but I would venture to guess quite difficult in execution. Raczka takes the concept and runs with it, creating one word poems for all sorts of words – bleachers, friends, and bicycles among them. Each poem gets its own page. On one side the word is introduced and illustrated, and on the other the poem appears neatly arranged. Some are funny:






While other simply and effectively capture a moment in time:





When an author sticks to this sort of strict plan while writing in such a normally carefree form, I fear the finished product might not live up to the idea. I had a similar concern going into the recent Mirror Mirror. But just like Marilyn Singer’s ace collection of reverso poems, Raczka’s work is repeatedly wonderful.

Doniger’s watercolor illustrations use a basic red and black pallate and add a simple, effective visual element.

A book that will interest the pro poetry (pro-etry?) crowd as well as newcomers to the form, Lemonade is first-purchase material.

Review copy from publisher

Also reviewed by Literate Lives, A Year of Reading, Waking Brain Cells, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Poetry for Children, GreenBeanTeenQueen, Christy’s Book Basket.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Love, love, love this book. After I wrote my review: http://proseandkahn.livejournal.com/208898.html, I handed my copy to one of the most creative language arts teachers I know. I’m eager to see what her students come up with.


  2. I love this book and have shared it with all my teachers. So agree with your review…beautifully executed but harder than it looks. Love Mirror, Mirror too.

  3. I just shared this book in the library with my 5th and 6th graders and challenged them to create their own poetry…just like Bob’s. Some wined and complained. Some rose to the challenge, and a challenge it was. Students then shared their poetry during our first “Open Mic Poetry” during lunch this week. I was very proud of them!

  4. Such a clever book. Brenda, Alyson, Amy – I would love to see what your students come up with!