Readers willing to pick and choose will find some gems, but there are a few rocks as well

READ, READ, READ!

Learning to read, wanting to read, daring to read—nearly every state of mastering the word is explored in VanDerwater’s collection of 23 poems.

Bookless? No worries. Cereal boxes, road signs, or even wildly decorated notebook paper can fill the bill for the greedy page gobbler. But if you happen to have a book…ahhhh, the sublime delight of reading under the covers way past dark (just like mom did) is unsurpassed. “She taught me how / a story leaps / like magic / from each page. / I’m sure my mom / read past her bedtime / under blankets / at my age.” However, in this inconsistent collection, the meter alternately flows, leaps, limps, and stutters. An achingly sweet poem about a child mourning her grandma while holding fast to the lessons learned in Charlotte’s Web is two back flips away from a pedestrian ode to hawks. “I am nestled on my couch / field guide perched upon my lap. / I am learning names of hawks / that own the never-ending sky.” O’Rourke’s illustrations are also uneven in quality. The oddly flat expression in “I Explore” vies with both the poignant father/daughter tableau in “Stories” and the comically imperious countenance of rodent Cleopatra in “Googling Guinea Pigs.” Overall, these poems lack the organic integrity and easy lyric harmony found in VanDerwater’s earlier books: Forest Has a Song, illustrated by Robbin Gourley (2013), and Every Day Birds, illustrated by Dylan Metrano (2016).

Readers willing to pick and choose will find some gems, but there are a few rocks as well . (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59078-975-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Both playful and enlightening, period.

A BUNCH OF PUNCTUATION

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more