Readers looking to strengthen their elementary Spanish or English vocabulary will appreciate this collection.




Inspired by a camping trip to California’s Yuba River, mother-daughter duo Ada and Zubizarreta-Ada team up for a bilingual picture-book collection of poetry covering the ABCs of nature.

A collection of 29 poems—each one standing for a letter in the Spanish alphabet—takes readers on a nature-filled journey punctuated by glimpses of butterflies, hummingbirds, frogs, the Milky Way, pebbles, and more. For every Spanish poem there is a corresponding English translation. While the English alphabet consists of a solid 26 letters, Spanish has a few more, and through clever strategies, the co-authors incorporate most of them. For instance, “Niña de la trusa azul” is the vehicle for the letter “ñ” while the italicized English word in “Ventana o window” stands for the letter “w.” Like “ñ,” “rr” occurs in the middle of words; however, it does not get a poem. Every letter brings readers to a setting along the Yuba: evening campfires, cicadas chirping, toes dipped in water, a boulder island, forest, and sunsets. In Spanish, the poetry carries a lovely, lyrical, smooth, fluid, and rhythmic cadence; and on occasion the English pacing does not measure up. Utomo’s watercolors lend a dreamy quality to the warm browns and greens; readers will feel the sun’s warmth and hear the rippling waters.

Readers looking to strengthen their elementary Spanish or English vocabulary will appreciate this collection. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8 )

Pub Date: May 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-55885-899-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arté Público

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Both playful and enlightening, period.


A collection of peppy poems and clever pictures explains different forms of punctuation.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s “A Punctuation Tale” kicks off the proceedings with a punny description of a day full of punctuation; goodnight is “cuddled / in quotation marks.” Ensuing poems discuss the comma, the apostrophe, the dash (“A subdued dude / in tweet and text / he signals what / is coming next”), the colon, the exclamation point, and ellipses. Allan Wolf’s poem about this last is called “…” and begins, “The silent ellipsis… / replaces…words missed.” Prince Redcloud’s “Question Marks” is particularly delightful, with the question “Why?” dancing diagonally down in stair steps. The emphatic answer is a repeated “Because!” Other poems pay tribute to quotation marks, the hyphen, and the period. Michele Kruger explains “The Purpose of Parentheses”: “inside a pair / ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) / of slender curves / we’ll hold your few / inserted words.” The final poem is editor Hopkins’ own, “Lines Written for You to Think About” (inspired by Carl Sandburg), urging young readers to write their own verses employing (what else?) punctuation. The 12 poets included work with a variety of devices and styles for an always-fresh feel. Bloch’s illustrations are delightfully surprising, both illustrating each poem’s key points and playfully riffing on the punctuation itself.

Both playful and enlightening, period. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59078-994-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.



A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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