FEG: Ridiculous [Stupid] Poems for Intelligent Children

FEGHirsch, R. (2002). FEG: Ridiculous poems for intelligent children. New York, NY: Little, Brown, and Company.

Description: This humorous book of poetry manages to teach literary devices without boring everyone to death. Instead, the poems are set up like mysteries to be solved. Touching on poetic terms such as personification, onomatopoeia, alliteration and more, FEG makes interpreting poetry into a game. Instead of footballs or checkers, this game is played with words.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Level Unavailable; Flesh-Kincaid Reading Ease 85.9 (Average Grade Level 4.2)

Qualitative Reading Level: The fonts are big and colorful and the text leaves a lot of white space on each page. Poems are matched with colorful illustrations, most of which support reading comprehension. Some of the poems rhyme and many are quite short. While some poems target older audiences, alluding to Shakespeare or etymology, each poem can be read on multiple levels. Younger readers will have fun with accessible content, such as cats eating tacos, and older readers will be challenged by the sophisticated word play. Footnotes for the poetry “detectives in charge” help readers understand craft techniques used in each poem. The footnotes are written in a humorous tone meant to make the whole process seem like a silly way to have fun.

Content Areas: English language arts

Teaching Suggestions

  1. Determine main ideas or themes from details in the poems.
  2. Summarize each poem.
  3. Determine the meaning of words, such as onomatopoeia or effigy, as they are used on the poems.
  4. Write poems using the literary devices, styles, and wordplay explained in the book (e.g., palindromes, onomatopoeia,  homonyms, spoonerisms, acrostic poems, alliteration, allusions, and “gibberish”).
  5. Pair student poetry with artwork in the simple style of this book. Each illustration gives clues to meaning of the poem.

Digital Resources

CCSS Content Standards: Grades 3 – 5

Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.
Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.
Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.



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