PEACEFUL PIECES

Hines’ art is always beautiful; she illustrates her work with astonishing quilts, reproduced full-size, in a variety of designs: In this work she uses black-and-white reverse patterns, mosaic-type images, photographs made into quilt patterns and lots and lots of gorgeous color. She uses this abundance of styles in her poems, too, offering acrostic, haiku, rhymed and free verse as well as concrete poetry (“Peace. Pass it on,” repeats over and over around a quilted globe, held by quilted hands of many colors, including orange and purple). In “What If?” she muses, “What if guns / fired marshmallow bullets, / and bombs burst / into feather clouds / sending us into fits / of giggles? What if / we all died / laughing?” It is very difficult to write about peace for children—or anyone else—without sinking into bathos or pure sappiness, and this collection doesn’t always rise above, but these missteps are small. Brief paragraphs about various peacemakers at the back, including two children (Samantha Smith, 1972–1985, and Mattie Stepanek, 1990–2004), tether the poems to reality; her description of making the quilts and the support of her quilters’ group is wonderful in and by itself for both children and adults to read. A poem about two sisters made to stand nose-to-nose until they stop fighting and dissolve into giggles is a truly fine idea—wonder if it would work with world leaders? (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8996-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE

The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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The attempt to present science in a humorous way is a well-meaning one, but the effect seems rather lame...

FACE BUG

For kids who love bugs! Gruesome but fascinating photomicrographs of 14 different bugs are the focus of this unusual science book that combines poetry, line drawings and scientific facts to bring bugs alive for curious children.

The bad puns flow relentlessly as a collection of small bugs, illustrated in rather dated-looking black-and-white line, visits the Face Bug Museum, where they learn to drill like a carpenter bee, experience the stinkbug’s stench, sip on nectar at the snack bar and measure the speed of the green darner dragonfly. The insects on display at the “museum”—the hickory horned devil, goldenrod stowaway moth, praying mantis and other exotica—are portrayed in superb, full-color micrographs by renowned nature photographer Siskind. The large close-up of the “Clydesdale of all flies,” the American horsefly, is particularly impressive. Humorous poems by U.S. Poet Laureate Lewis describe each insect; of the dogday harvestfly cicada, he writes, “What?! Two faces / On this mutt? / Creepy. Never / Mind his butt.” Four pages of backmatter give the insects the opportunity to “narrate” a little more information about themselves. The insect jokes keep going all the way to the author bios, so determined is the book to remain light and accessible.

The attempt to present science in a humorous way is a well-meaning one, but the effect seems rather lame for today's visually sophisticated kids and might work better as an app than a book. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59078-925-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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