Cover image for Swimming upstream : middle school poems
Swimming upstream : middle school poems
George, Kristine O'Connell.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Clarion Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
79 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
A collection of poems capture the feelings and experiences of a girl in middle school.
Reading Level:
NP Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.4 0.5 65686.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.5 3 Quiz: 34271 Guided reading level: Q.
Added Author:
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3557.E488 S95 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3557.E488 S95 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3557.E488 S95 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3557.E488 S95 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PS3557.E488 S95 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Award-winning poet Kristine O'Connell George, author of several successful picture books, now turns her attention to the middle school experience. The first year brings an array of challenges: making new friends, moving from class to class, tests and homework, changing for PE, gossip, school dances, and, of course, budding romance. Short, accessible poems in a variety of forms, but all in a single voice--that of a new middle schooler--evoke the memorable moments of the school year, exploring situations and emotions that will resonate with preteens. Lively illustrations complement this perceptive, humorous, poignant record of an important transitional year.

Author Notes

Kristine O'Connell George is an acclaimed poet who conducts poetry workshops for children and teachers. She is the author of several books of poetry for young people, including Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems and The Great Frog Race, winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award. She lives with her family in Southern California. Visit her online at and on Twitter at @Kristine_George.

Debbie Tilley has illustrated many books for children, including Spaghetti And Meatballs For All by Marilyn Burns and Babies Don't Eat Pizza by Dianne Danzig. She lives in Escondido, California.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. These tiny poems--rhymed, free verse, haiku, even an acrostic--cover the first year of junior high--sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. The unnamed female narrator sees the first "jigsaw year" as refitting and recombining old friends and new, old ideas and new. In "Is It Monday Again?" she decries dividing the week into "seven square pieces / (five for school, two for me)" and in "Lunch Survey" the myriad variants on "peanut butter and" are trumped by Zach's sushi. The mysteries of lockers and uncontrolled giggling are plumbed; as is the rapture of the boy you like liking you back: "I am shining / from the inside out." There's a running thread about practicing the flute until at last she can make something like music. Sweet and on key. Illustrations unseen. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Middle school, with all its trials, tribulations, and triumphs, is portrayed humorously and poignantly through the eyes of one girl. Some of the more mundane topics include a locker that won't open, being late to homeroom, carrying around a large piece of wood as a hall pass, and deciding where to sit in the lunchroom. The book also delves into significant issues, from making new friends and a first crush to teasing, gossip, and a bully who may not be so tough after all. The selections are short, mostly filling less than a page, and get to the heart of the matter quickly. The emotions range from confusion, loneliness, and fear to being nervous and tongue-tied. Amid all the angst and trauma are light moments of "chaperones/(someone else's parents!)/bobbing offbeat" at the school dance or a troublesome musical instrument, "after much practice/flute still suffers severe case/of laryngitis." Students will relate to this voice navigating "upstream," while they try to find their own place in the middle-school wilderness.-Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.