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

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,072 Ratings  ·  243 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
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by HarperCollins
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Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel SilversteinA Light in the Attic by Shel SilversteinWhen We Were Very Young by A.A. MilneNow We Are Six by A.A. MilneA Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Best children's poetry books
153rd out of 181 books — 245 voters
Spell Bound by Rachel HawkinsOut of Sight, Out of Time by Ally CarterDefiance by Shelly CraneFair Game by Patricia BriggsGoing Under by Georgia Cates
Best books of March, 2012
42nd out of 72 books — 234 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 02, 2012 Karin rated it really liked it
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
Jan 24, 2012 Betsy rated it really liked it
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
Oct 09, 2012 Terri rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 13, 2012 Angela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
May 29, 2016 Natalie rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, humor, poetry
I love how grouchy and mean these poems are.

Most of these poems are taken from well known tales and nursery rhymes - Jack and the Beanstalk, Humpty Dumpty, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, The Little Train, etc. - and many of these poems made me laugh out loud.

I pushed your boat out of the gentle stream/where you were merrily singing and rowing/Forgive me life is but a nightmare

I have chewed through the tall beanstalk/which you recently stepped off way up there/Forgive me I think I'm worth more than fi
Edward Sullivan
Apr 23, 2012 Edward Sullivan rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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).
Mar 11, 2012 Shoshana rated it really liked it
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
Feb 28, 2014 Cass rated it it was amazing
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:

Emily Egbers
Feb 16, 2016 Emily Egbers rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This poetry book is formatted after William Carlos Williams' poem, "This is Just to Say". The introduction is placed after a few poems. In the introduction, Levine explains the format of the stanzas, punctuations and capitalization that Williams used in his poem. These are false apology poems. The author uses many popular folk and fairy tale characters to offer false apologies. These literature connections would fly over the heads of readers that are not familiar with these tales. The concept of ...more
Emily Uebel
Apr 29, 2015 Emily Uebel rated it it was amazing
This poem book is meant for kids ages eight and up, and is a great book for readers who are learning poetry. I am giving this book five stars out of five because I think it shows great humor and will definitely catch young kid’s attention. There are over thirty pomes and each one is different and yet they all seem to flow from page to page. In the begging of the book the author gives some facts about an old poet named William Carlos Williams which inspired the author to write this book. I though ...more
Georgia Karr
Apr 15, 2015 Georgia Karr rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
These poems contain a great deal of dry humor that would appeal to some people, but not others. I thought some of them were humorous and others were not. I did enjoy the fact that Levine made some of the poems out of classic stories, such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, The Seven Dwarfs, and many more. I also like how the book was unconventional; the introduction was included after some of the poems had already been read, every poem had the same title, and some of the pages had to be turn ...more
Aug 23, 2014 Laurie rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebecca Tenbrook
Feb 06, 2014 Rebecca Tenbrook rated it it was amazing
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
Aryana Ahmad
Feb 26, 2015 Aryana Ahmad rated it really liked it
Can people be forgiven for the mistakes they have made? Well reading these poems has the randomest things ever put in one and the author keeps saying in each poem starting the third paragraph saying, "forgive me".
Personal Reaction - This book was interesting something that wasn't really ordinary. But the illustration wasn't all that great mostly because it was in black and white. I thought the illustration could have been more colorful I think it would have had more meaning to it. The plain blac
Liz B
Jan 30, 2014 Liz B rated it liked it
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
May 21, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it
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.
May 11, 2015 Alexandra rated it it was ok
Shelves: kid-lit
Forgive Me, I Meant to Do it: False Apology Poems
Gail Carson Levine

(Poetry #1 NCTE Notable Poetry Books)

I guess I could say this was an okay book. I have a hard time with reading poetry and though I thought this book was going to be amusing I found it to be really annoying. I guess I am not into the whole William Carlos Williams idea of poems that do not end on a happy or positive note. I found this book to just be one that is mean and ends badly for every character. I also was able to realize h
Rebecca Boliard
Apr 19, 2015 Rebecca Boliard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
**NCTE Notable Poetry Book**
This book is a book of "This is just to say" poems. Each poem has a theme of a fairy tale or familiar nursery rhyme. The poems are based on the poem "This is just to say" by William Carlos Williams. I recently read this poem in my Approaches to Literature class and it did not make a whole lot of sense to me, but now I get it. I have read all of the poems in this collection and they are perfect! Hilariously "apologizing" without really meaning the apology. The poems ar
Eilidh Dunsmore
Feb 23, 2015 Eilidh Dunsmore rated it liked it
Recommends it for: All ages and everybody
Recommended to Eilidh by: Library
I actually really quite liked this book. It offered an intriguing take on several classic fairy tales. One I particular enjoyed was about humpty dumpty.
"This Is Just To Say
It was I
who shoved
off the wall

which you had precariously
perched on
for centuries

Forgive me
all the king's horses
and all the king's men
were bored" (pg #67)
In addition to the various deadpan-humor fairy tale false apology poems, there were a few related to the author herself. I found each to be funny and enjoyable to read. Pepp
Michelle McBeth
Every poem in this book is styled after a poem written by William Carlos Williams. Here is an example: "They sing the bear went over the mountain/which leads him to see other mountains/Forgive me: no one sings the ending, the landslide and the dead bear."

I was hoping for laugh out loud funny with this book and instead got mostly irreverent and mean. Most of the poems make fun of fairy tales. From Little Red Riding Hood (Grandma to Wolf) "When you arrive I will not be lying in my bed/where you hu
Apr 21, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing
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.
Susan Barton
A poetry book for kids that kids can presumably relate to. The concept: doing something wrong, apologizing for it, but not really meaning it.

What I liked:

Teaching kids about poetry. This book could be used as a teaching tool to get middle graders excited about expressing themselves through writing. I also liked the simple “sketch-style” drawings.

What I liked (much) less:

The negative connotation of each poem. I prefer books that encourage children to do the right thing in the first place. Destro
Audrie Estrada
Mar 04, 2015 Audrie Estrada rated it really liked it
Personal Reaction:
I like these poems a lot because they are silly and funny. They bring a natural smile on my face. I think that these do a wonderful job of showing sarcasm and explaining (between the lines) what that means. It keeps me interested because the poems and the situations are so bizarre.
These poems would be a good read for kids 1st through 3rd grade because they are funny and also interesting to hear aloud. They also would give the children the ability to imagine and create
Nov 11, 2013 midnightfaerie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
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
Mar 17, 2012 Franki Sibberson rated it it was amazing
Love this anthology! Love the references to classic tales. Loved the humor. Laughed out loud a few times.
Rachel Barnard
Oct 21, 2014 Rachel Barnard rated it liked it
Shelves: libs642
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
Jun 16, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, humor, bob-2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 11, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
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
Oct 21, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it
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
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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 about Gail Carson Levine...

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