AFRICAN ACROSTICS

A WORD IN EDGEWAYS

Acrostic poems inventively highlight the animals of Africa. While some of the acrostics simply spell the name of the animals, others expand the topic of the poem—the rhino’s poem spells out “beauty in the beast,” while the giraffe’s declares them “cloud friends.” Harley keeps things interesting by varying the seriousness of the poems and the rhythm and rhyme schemes. Backmatter includes more about acrostics as a poetic form and short paragraphs of information about each of the featured animals. Noyes’s photographs perfectly encapsulate the poems, the two creating a harmonious whole that is more than the sum of its parts. The kudu, his poem asking how one greets this animal, is shown in close-up, his head tilted as if waiting for an introduction. The fatherly advice of the ostrich is delivered with a straight face, long-lashed eyes looking readers right in the eye. This belongs in every collection—for the poetry, for the photographs, for the information. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3621-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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MERCY WATSON TO THE RESCUE

Hilarity and hijinks abound in this tale about a voracious swine with an overweening yen for hot buttered toast. Mercy is the beloved pet pig of the doting Mr. and Mrs. Watson. When Mercy sneaks into her owner’s bed one night, her added heft causes the bed to fall partway through the ceiling. Although the besotted Watsons assume Mercy is trotting off to seek help, the only search and rescue Mercy seems to care about involves butter and hot bread. In her quest for some midnight munchies, Mercy awakens the crotchety neighbor. Wild chases and mayhem ensue before help arrives in the guise of firefighters. DiCamillo aims for over-the-top fun with her tale of porcine shenanigans, and Van Dusen’s gouache illustrations provide a comical counterpart to the text. The glossy paintings, with exaggerated caricatures and lively colors, complement DiCamillo’s tone, although the scowling, lantern-jawed visage of the crabby neighbor borders on the unpleasant. With vocabulary that may prove too challenging for a novice, DiCamillo’s tale is best suited for those ready to move up. However, the pacing and the action easily make it right for shared reading. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7636-2270-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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