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Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  885 ratings  ·  211 reviews
This Is Just to Say

If you’re looking for a nice happy book

put this one down and run away quickly

Forgive me sweetness and good cheer are boring

Inspired by William Carlos Williams’s famous poem ”This Is Just to Say,” Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine delivers a wickedly funny collection of her own false apology poems, imagining how tricksters really feel about the misc...more
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by HarperCollins
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I have enjoyed several of Gail Carson Levine’s books in the past and was very curious when I saw that this poetry collection was written by her as well. I hope you don’t think I’m ignorant, but I had never heard of false apology poems before picking up this book and while I know the name William Carlos Williams, I had never read “This Is Just To Say,” which this book is inspired by. For those of you that haven’t read it either, here it is:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the i...more
I tend to run my bookgroup for kids between the ages of 9-12 like a gentle dictatorship. I choose the books, the kids vote on them, and so it goes. Now if the kids had their way we’d be reading fantasy novels day in and day out every single week. With that in mind, I like to try to make them read something a little different once in a while. For example, one week I might try to get them to read a Newbery winner. The next I would try to encourage them to dip into some nonfiction. One type of book...more
Inspired by the Williams Carlos Williams poem, "This is Just to Say", Levine has provided an insightful introduction to the form of a false apology poem, as well as provided a sampling of her own. A collection Shel Silverstein would be proud of. Highly recommended for schools and confidence building in both reading, writing and poetic forms. Black and white illustrations in a Silverstein tribute by the wonderful Matthew Cordell.

Here's one of my favorites:


While you were buying
Oh my, the things a teacher can do with this book! It is an obvious invitation to writing, but can also be used to teach allusion, tone, perspective, and that's just the beginning! Levine lets many familiar folk and fairy tale characters offer tongue-in-cheek apologies that fly right over the head of readers who aren't familiar with the old tales. My favorites? Jack's cow, who thinks she's "worth more than five magic beans;" and Pinocchio, who thinks telling lies is fun and doesn't "want to be a...more
Feb 28, 2014 Cass rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All my friends who enjoy a good laugh
I love this book all over again every time I pick it up. It's a book of false apology poem that deserve a good laugh each time. My favorite is the brother who takes care of his sister's Barbie while the sister shops. It it definitely something a brother might do~

Gail Carson Levine takes William Carlos Williams' poem about apologizing for eating the delicious, cold plums and makes a whole book of poetry based on the idea of tongue in check apologies.

Some are about parents or children apologizing to each other for bad grades or upcoming babysitters, but most of them are based on fairy tales, giving other characters a chance to speak, such as the cow from Jack and the Beanstalk, getting her revenge for being sold off for a measly five beans.

My favorite:

I did read most of this, but I don't actually want to admit I did. I was trying to get into the spirit of it, but couldn't. The verses are just petty and mean, not clever, not provocative.

Levine does say, "For those of you who lack an ounce of mean,... you can write a real apology poem. However, even this will not be possible if you are too angelic to have anything to apologize for." Well, my goal is to be that angelic. I really am not ever mean on purpose, believe it or not. So - maybe I am jus...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebecca Tenbrook
This was a good book! It was funny and I think it would really appeal to children. This whole poem is filled with false apology poems. The poems seem mean but that is the point. These poems are about what people did on purpose to get something they wanted and wrote a false apology for it. My favorite poems are when Levine took characters from popular stories (the big bad wolf, Jack and Jill, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc) and created a false apology poem based off of them. If you know the story th...more
Liz B
It's tricky to rate and review this one. It was not the book I expected or wanted. (I wanted an anthology!) And of course, it's not fair to evaluate a book based on what you wanted--when what you wanted is not what it was pretending to be. Of course, it's perfectly fair to respond to a book based on what you wanted, even if what you wanted was not what it was pretending to be.

So, my response: Boo hiss! This is not what I wanted. And I LOVE that poem by Williams, and one or two imitatios would be...more
I laughed out loud several times reading Gail Carson Levine's many takes on William Carlos Williams' famous poem "This Is Just To Say." The fairy tale and nursery rhyme references make especially fun poems. Might be fun to pair with a trickster tale and write that character's false apology (Levine tells you how). Matthew Cordell's illustrations are part Quentin Blake and part Babette Cole.
Edward Sullivan
An amusing collection of poems inspired by the William Carlos Williams poem "This is Just to Say." Matthew Cordell's entertaining illustrations are a good complement to Levines's light-hearted verse. See also Joyce Sidman's anthology on a similar theme, This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness (Houghton Mifflin, 2007).
Such a fun book of poetry. Can't wait to share it with students so they can have fun understanding the context of each poem and then try some of their own. Love how Levine pokes fun at everything, even the sequence of how a book should be set up.
This is just to say

I have read
the poems
that were in
the book

and for which
you should probably
to William Carlos Willams

Forgive me
parodies are delicious
so sweet
and so cool
My kids were too young to enjoy this one, and honestly I didn't enjoy it all that much either. The poems were a little trite and I didn't quite see the humor in them. Maybe when the kids are older.
Franki Sibberson
Love this anthology! Love the references to classic tales. Loved the humor. Laughed out loud a few times.
Rachel Barnard
Levine, Gail Carson. Forgive Me, I meant to Do It: False Apology Poems. HarperCollins, 2013.


NCBLA - Notable Children's Books in the English Language Arts (2013)

This book of poetry is extremely sarcastic. The whole book consists of basically fake apologies. They are quite funny. The illustrations are all sketches in black on creme colored paper. My initial thoughts were, this is silly and I caught myself smiling. This could be used in the classroom to help students identify types of poetry...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Besides writing children's books herself, Gail Carson Levine loves to teach chidren how to write. She's most well known for her hit Ella Enchanted... but has a spate of other books, often retellings of fairy stories and one book on writing for children. This book is her tribute to New Jersey poet-physician William Carlos Williams, to fairy stories and life in general with a particular emphasis on life for the young. After warming up with a few of her own hilarious false apology poems, she shares...more
I’m reading more poetry because I’m gearing up to be one of the judges in this years’ Cybils’ awards for poetry. This book is on the nominated list! My work doesn’t start until the beginning of next year, but I’m nervous, and think I should study many examples to see if I can learn something, about writing poetry and evaluating it as well as the way it’s presented.
This is the first book I’ve read since I knew I was going to be a judge. I also happen to know that one of the classes I work with...more
Pair this one with Joyce Sidman's earlier This Is Just to Say and be sure to share the original William Carlos Williams' poem "This Is Just to Say" in which the poet apologizes--but not really--for eating the plums that were beckoning him from the family icebox. The 46 poems all have the same title and follow the same pattern, ending with a punch to the stomach each time. Characters from fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Beanstalk scamper through the p...more
Using William Carlos Williams’ famous non-apology poem to his wife, Levine carries his formatting to a humorous high with her spoofs of nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and school and family issues. There is even humor in the book’s design, with the Table of Contents repeating “This is Just to Say” a multitude of times as if in the cloud, followed by several poems, and then the Introduction on page 18, to Levine’s editor’s chagrin: “Instead of at the beginning/I slipped/this introduction/in here/whe...more
I think that Walter Carlos Williams is owed an apology far more sincere than any of the ones in this book. He wrote a perfectly good little poem to his wife, about eating her saved plums for his own snack, and Gail Carson Levine has used it as an excuse to rampage through life situations and fairy tales with pseudo-apologies for things far more serious than eating a bowl of plums from the refrigerator.
While creative, some of Levine's poems are very dark and twisted, entirely changing the point o...more
Inspired by William Carlos Williams's 'This Is Just To Say,' Levine has a great time studying the form of his poem, the intent, the importance. Then she writes some of the most rollicking, silly poems using his as the mentor text.

I loved her voice, her playfulness, her irreverence. I eagerly turned the pages to read the next one, and the next. Many were written in the voices of fairy-tale characters and I can see all kinds of applications in a classroom...I think we'd start writing a fake apolo...more
Pippin Andrews
Have you ever done something that was a little dishonest, but you felt compelled to do it, and then had to apologize for doing it, but could not find an acceptable reason why you did it in the first place. Well, Gail Carson Levine has done it for you. Inspired by William Carlos Williams’ poem “This is just to say”, she has found excuses for all sorts of characters; including the grandma from Little Red Riding Hood who knew the wolf would eat her granddaughter; to the girl who pushed Humpty Dumpt...more
HA! Some of the poems here made me unexpectedly laugh out loud. The poem "written" by Jack's cow (of Jack & the Beanstalk fame) was one of those. I don't have the book next to me, so I cannot quote it, but the cow is chewing through the beanstalk because "I'm worth more than 5 magic beans". That's the kind of snarky book this is. Pretty funny.

Lots of false apologies here. You know the kind: when someone forces you to apologize but you so do not mean it. That's what you have here. In a tribut...more
Based on William Carlos Williams’s “This Is Just to Say” poem, these poems borrow the form and the apology but build upon it with a wild array of situations. In each poem, an apology is offered, but all of them are done conditionally and many are completely insincere. There is an apology for eating all of the ice cream and replacing it with anchovies. There is an apology for turning a bully into a fly and having a swatter ready to go. Then there are many apologies based on fairy tales or songs t...more
With each poem entitled "This Is Just to Say", Gail Carson Levine proves that just because you say you're sorry, doesn't mean you are. While I must admit that one or two fell flat, on the whole this book of poems was deliciously evil and funny. Many of the poems were based around fairy tales, but with a slightly devilish twist. Two of my favorites are: one based on Hansel and Gretel, in which the witch apologizes for luring the children in but that she's hungry and prefers her food young; and th...more
I have written a few false apology poems modeled after "This is Just to Say," so I was intrigued to find this collection. I love the idea behind it and think this would be tons of fun to use in a writing group, maybe even with young writers. I didn't love all the poems, although I think maybe I would have if I heard them read aloud. A creative, quick read.
Jeanne Williams
There is much to love about this book of poems--all riffs on WC Williams non-apology poem, "This is Just to Say." the author explains the form of that poem and plays around with it, writing non-apology poems based on familiar characters and familiar family conflicts. She also plays with the conventions of the poetry book--from the table of contents to the introduction to page orientation. I suspect some readers will find some of the poems gruesome, but I imagine that very feature will appeal to...more
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Confuse 2 4 Nov 17, 2012 08:12AM  
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Just letting you all know: I'm only going to review books I love. There's enough negative criticism without me piling on. A book is too hard to write.

Gail Carson Levine grew up in New York City and began writing seriously in 1987. Her first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Fairest; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Yo...more
More about Gail Carson Levine...
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