From the sonorant and strange to the profound and challenging, the poems and paintings collected here are sure to capture...

POEMS TO LEARN BY HEART

A gorgeous collection of poems selected with commitment to memory in mind.

Though the author of a few best-sellers on such adult topics as politics and constitutional law, Kennedy continues to carve a name for herself as an anthologist. She teams up here again with Caldecott Honoree Jon J Muth (A Family of Poems, 2005) to present over 100 poems and accompanying illustrations aimed at introducing children to the pleasures of memorization. Unlike other contemporary anthologies with similar ambitions, whose forgettable contents seem picked out of a hat, Kennedy’s selection radiates diversity with purpose. Grouped thematically on popular verse topics—the self, nature, war, family, friendship, etc.—each of the collection’s works offers a distinctive place of attachment for readers. Light, early-20th-century pieces like A.A. Milne’s “Disobedience” and Ogden Nash’s “The Parent” (“Children aren’t happy with nothing to ignore, / And that’s what parents were created for”) shine just as brightly as newer nonsensical gems, such as Jack Prelutsky’s delectably gross “Herbert Glerbett” and Neal Levin’s hilarious “Baby Ate a Microchip.” Dark and contemplative subjects fare just as well in selections such as “When he was small, when he would fall,” Vladimir Nabokov’s powerful comparison of a childhood stumble to death in battle, and Wallace Stevens’ “The Snow Man,” as breathtaking in its portrait of winter as it is bleak in its meditation on nothingness. As if Kennedy’s rich poetic finds weren’t enough to hook adventurous youngsters, Muth’s shadowy, evocative watercolors render submission inevitable.

From the sonorant and strange to the profound and challenging, the poems and paintings collected here are sure to capture readers of any age. (Poetry. 3 & up)

Pub Date: March 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-0805-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2013

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A delightful story of love and hope.

OUR SUBWAY BABY

Families are formed everywhere—including large metropolitan mass-transit systems!

Baby Kevin, initially known as “Danny ACE Doe,” was found in the New York City’s 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin’s other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete’s point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using “piggy banks” instead of “bank accounts” to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa’s posterlike artwork—which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see—extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author’s note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43% of actual size.)

A delightful story of love and hope. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42754-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.

MOMMIES ARE AMAZING

The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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