By Jill Esbaum, Illustrated by Jack E. Davis
Harcourt Children’s Books, 2009

Stanza is a great book that shows how street bullies learn to shed their “tough skins” and accept recognition for their “sensitive” talents.  Written in rhyme, it’s a fun, well-developed story.  Creativity and life—expressed in both words and illustrations—jump from each page.  Stanza is a pleasure to read.

Stanza, the youngest of three boys, makes himself out to be a bully to earn the recognition of this two older brothers, but at night his sensitive side wins out and he writes poems—in secret.  He knows full well, that if his brother ever found out, it would be the end of him.

One day Snapper Foods announces a jingle-writing contest and Stanza enters.  In secret, he waits for the results.  He only wins second place—but now his brothers know his secret.  Like he knew they would, his brother ridicule and torture him unmercifully—until…  Snapper Foods delivers a year’s supply of Chicken Pot Pie flavored Snappers.  Immediately the brothers respect their “genius”, “rhyming magician” brother.  Stanza agrees to share the winnings on one condition. The result is the brothers share their artistic and musical talents at a neighborhood show.

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