written by Richard Wilbur
Harcourt Inc, 2006
Through silly rhymes, riddles and often twisted logic, Pulitzer Prize winner and former US Poet Laureate Richard C. Wilbur helps the reader look at words and their relationship to each other in a brand new way. First published in 1973, Opposites, More Opposites and a Few Differences has not lost its charm or appeal to readers of all ages. This is word play at its cleverest.
Have you ever considered the connection between “kites” and “yo-yos” or “dragons” and “a goose”? Did you know that a “rat” becomes “tar” when viewed in reverse? What do words like “duck,” “bat,” and “well” really mean? Wilbur plays with multiple meanings of words and makes connections in unique and hilarious ways. At the end of the book he’s added “a few differences” in poems about a “cake of soap,” a jester, and a dunce. The black-and-white line drawings add a simplicity and sassiness that lend themselves to the atmosphere of merriment Wilbur creates with his text.
Opposites, More Opposites and a Few Differences would be a great tool for teaching about simile and metaphor. For example, poem #22 talks about a cloud as “a white reflection in the sea” or “huge blueness in the air caused by a cloud’s not being there.” Words twist and turn around each other as the clever relationships between them comes out (i.e., doe is to buck (the animal) as dough is to buck (the money)). Have you thought much about the word “white”? The obvious opposite is “black,” but what if you were an egg? Then you would say “yolk.” Full of possibilities for writing exercises, this book is a must for any literary library.
— Heidi Grosch
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