Poetry sparks an irresistible, primal urge to twist, cut, paint, draw, glue, carve, whittle, daub, tie, hammer, to simply...

WITH MY HANDS

POEMS ABOUT MAKING THINGS

This trove of construction projects, relayed through a series of poems, rouses readers to roll up their sleeves and make something with their own hands—a painting, a birdhouse, a knot, a piñata, a soap-bar sculpture, a batch of cookies, a painting, or even a shadow-puppet show.

Lithe, immersive verse, voiced in the first person, inspires children to find solace, joy, and power in their handiwork. “I learn to draw by staying still. / I follow every line. / I love to draw because I know— / what I draw is mine.” This orderly, balanced, primly conscientious closing stanza conveys both the focus a finely executed drawing requires and the private pride that arrives upon its completion. Varied pacing, style, and format allow these nimble poems to perfectly reflect the activity they describe. The taut verse binding “This knot / is not easy to tie. / It is not” captures the child’s jaw-clenched frustration and concentration; its deft economy brilliantly embodies a tightly knotted rope. Teachers and caregivers will find ample opportunities to delve both into these fine poems’ mechanics and the fantastic construction ideas they encourage and describe. Fancher and Johnson’s mixed-media–collage illustrations support the verse, showing children of varying skin tones engaged in their projects; at times they allow their activities to swell surreally across the page, suggesting their transportive powers.

Poetry sparks an irresistible, primal urge to twist, cut, paint, draw, glue, carve, whittle, daub, tie, hammer, to simply make. (Picture book/poetry. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-31340-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A small but mighty collection sure to remind readers that love, again, can prevail over all if given the chance.

I AM LOVED

In this collection, poet Giovanni seeks to remind black children especially that they are loved.

Giovanni carries the weight of the love that has sustained generations and united communities to her poems with amazing, succinct elegance. Standouts include “I Am a Mirror,” opposite which Bryan centers a real inset mirror against a colorful background of vibrant shapes amid natural landscapes. “I reflect the strengths / Of my people / And for that alone / I am loved,” concludes Giovanni’s ode to black ancestry and intergenerational resilience. “No Heaven” takes another heartwarming approach sure to incite genuine embraces among readers. “How can there be / No Heaven / When tears comfort / When dreams caress / When you smile / at me.” Recalling her earlier collection Hip Hop Speaks to Children (2008, illustrated by Kristen Balouch), Giovanni ends with the playful and reflective “Do the Rosa Parks,” a rhythmic and moving song about the power of sitting down to stand up. Outkast vibes run through it, though some readers may wish for an instructional cue. Throughout, Bryan’s bright tempera and watercolor paintings offer readers harmonious forms and flowing lines, smiling black children and adults arranged as if in tropically colored stained-glass windows. The two masters together deliver another powerful addition to their separate, award-winning catalogs.

A small but mighty collection sure to remind readers that love, again, can prevail over all if given the chance. (Picture book/poetry. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0492-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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

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