Blue Lipstick by John Grandits (trade paperback, Clarion Books, 2007) is a modest collection of thirty-four shape poems written from the POV of Jessie, an adolescent girl; and no doubt its target readership is adolescent girls. The last time I checked, I am not an adolescent girl. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the sometimes simple, sometimes profound, sometimes eclectic, but always meaningful and literally and figuratively colorful poems.
The poems are sprinkled with humor. At times, the humor is ironic, satirical, wicked, or sarcastic. At other times the humor is simple, funny, or borderline slapstick. The shape poems create their own illustrations; sprinkled with color, they make for an interesting meta-visual experience that serves to enhance the verses.
While the poems consist mostly of simple narrative elements, the topics are anything but simple. Jessie deals with: sibling rivalry, unpopularity, a disappointing crush on a boy, a mean English teacher, a scary school bus driver, making new friends, cello lessons, bad hair, social awkwardness and embarrassment, and transitioning from girlhood to young womanhood. All the poems are insidiously thought provoking and many are hauntingly memorable.
Blue Lipstick certainly would make a perfect gift for a special tween-aged girl--especially one with siblings and parents that might casually pick up the book after she was done with it. It is difficult to say by whom the book would be enjoyed more.
Steven Wittenberg Gordon