THE RETURN OF REX AND ETHEL

A touching story about two girls, two dogs, and the way in which the girls deal with the deaths of their beloved pets. Inspired by the death of his own pet, Adoff (Touch the Poem, see below, etc.) tells the story of Pepper and Belle, best friends who live in neighboring houses out in the country. The girls and their dogs, Rex and Ethel, are all close, spending most of their free time together. One day, during a hot, hot summer, Belle and Pepper look for their pets in the backyard and find that both dogs (now quite old) have died peacefully. The families jointly hold a solemn funeral, and the dogs are buried together under a beautiful tree. The next day Pepper and Belle start working on a living tribute, which they dub “The Rex and Ethel Memorial Rest Stop,” a sanctuary for all the animals in the neighborhood. The relationships between the two girls, between the girls and the dogs, and between the dogs themselves are well-drawn and affecting. Although the story has the girls bouncing back awfully quickly (they look positively cheerful the day following the deaths), there is no question that the bond these girls had with their pets was very special. The book is written in Adoff’s “shaped speech” style, a technique of writing that’s halfway between poetry and prose, using a wide variety of spacing between words, and indentations in the margins to further the meaning of the story. The illustrations are uneven—while the faces of the girls are wooden, with glazed-over eyes and unnatural expressions, the landscapes are evocative and interesting. A useful book for when a pet (or a person) dies, especially for those who feel that taking some sort of positive action has a healing effect. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-266367-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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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

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ALL THE COLORS OF THE EARTH

This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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