Poetry Friday: I am the Wallpaper and Haiku Therapy

You know the SCWBI Writer’s Retreat one day program I applied to? Mark Peter Hughes, author of I am the Wallpaper and Lemonade Mouth will be one of the presenters. I hadn’t read any of his books, and thought it would be a good idea to check them out. For research purposes, you know. And, boy, am I ever so glad I did.

Last night, I read I am the Wallpaper, the debut novel of Mark Peter Hughes, which incidentally was a finalist in the Delacorte Press Young Adult Novel Competition.

I was reminded of a book that I read last year, that I absolutely loved. It stood out in my mind because it was wonderful pre-teen/teen coming-of-age story. That book was Shug by Jenny Han.

Well, let me introduce you to another wonderful coming-of-age story and a book I would recommend for my Great Books for Girls list. I am the Wallpaper.

Of course, by now, you’re wondering, and what does this have to do with Poetry Friday? This is too good to keep quiet for long, so let me just tell you that thirteen-year-old Floey Packer feels like she’s barely noticed, like wallpaper, especially when her older sister, the Amazing Lillian is around. Life takes an interesting turn for Floey when she meets fifteen-year-old Calvin, who is into Zen and poetry, at her sister’s wedding.

When Floey tries to find out about where she can find Calvin on the web, she also does a little research on Zen and haiku. From the start she’s hooked and writes haiku every once in awhile as therapy in her journals. Below is one of the haiku poems Floey wrote to celebrate the new her. And check out the haiku poem Calvin wrote for her. Ah, to have a poem like that written for me!

out of the cold air
a tiny ray of sunlight
come in, meet my soul
Floey Packer, age 13
from I am the Wallpaper by Mark Peter Hughes

bright and wild like fire
suddenly she steps forward
out of gray nothing

– Calvin, age 15
from I am the Wallpaper by Mark Peter Hughes

I am the Wallpaper isn’t all about haiku. In fact, it is only sprinkled throughout. But it gives Floey an outlet to express herself when she needs to unleash some emotion. And if you want to read some more haiku, Mark has a page on his website called, haiku me, baby, where the best of the haikus submitted to his contest are posted.

I am the Wallpaper alternates between Floey’s narrative and her journal entries detailing her determination to peel off her wallpaper image now that the Amazing Lillian is no longer around. Floey unleashes the more fabulous version of herself, but finds attention may not always be what it seems. You’ve simply got to read this book to find out what happens.

Mark Peter Hughes did a wonderful job writing from the POV of a thirteen-year-old girl. He captured the angst, the horrors, the humor, the crush obsessions and the pacts of friends that I remember from my teenage days. How did he do that?
I hope there are openings in this writing program…I would love to hear his presentation.


I am the Wallpaper

by Mark Peter Hughes
Delacorte Press
Published 2005

Mentor Texts is hosting Poetry Friday today. Have a great weekend everyone!

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Vivian Lee Mahoney

Consider yourself warned: I write books about rebels. I'm also a postergirlz for readergirlz, a literary advisory group for teens. Who knew going back to the teenage years would be so rewarding?

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