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Readers can count on plenty of chuckles along with a mild challenge or two.

Rollicking verses on “numerous” topics.

Returning to the theme of her Mathematickles! (2003), illustrated by Steven Salerno, Franco gathers mostly new ruminations with references to numbers or arithmetical operations. “Do numerals get out of sorts? / Do fractions get along? / Do equal signs complain and gripe / when kids get problems wrong?” Along with universal complaints, such as why 16 dirty socks go into a washing machine but only 12 clean ones come out or why there are “three months of summer / but nine months of school!" (“It must have been grown-ups / who made up / that rule!”), the poet offers a series of numerical palindromes, a phone number guessing game, a two-voice poem for performative sorts, and, to round off the set, a cozy catalog of countable routines: “It’s knowing when night falls / and darkens my bedroom, / my pup sleeps just two feet from me. / That watching the stars flicker / in the velvety sky / is my glimpse of infinity!” Tey takes each entry and runs with it, adding comically surreal scenes of appropriately frantic or settled mood, generally featuring a diverse group of children joined by grotesques that look like refugees from Hieronymous Bosch paintings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Readers can count on plenty of chuckles along with a mild challenge or two. (Poetry/mathematical picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0116-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Striking photographs of birds that might be seen in the eastern United States illustrate this new collection of 14 poems in varied forms. From bald eagle to marbled godwit, the range is wide. It includes familiar feeder birds like chickadees, birds of ponds and shores like wood ducks, hooded mergansers and sandpipers, as well as less-common birds like the great horned owl, rufous-sided towhee and cedar waxwings. Semple's splendid photographs show birds in the wild—flying, perched in trees or on slender reeds, running along the sand and even bunched on a boardwalk. The colors are true, and the details sharp; careful focus and composition make the birds the center of attention. Yolen’s poems comment on these birds’ appearances and their curious actions. An eastern kingbird is "a ninja of the air," and “...oystercatchers, unafraid, / Continue on their stiff parade.” The mockingbird’s “Threesome Haiku” matches his triple repetition of the tune he mocks. Some of the poetry limps, making an easy point rather than enlarging the reader’s understanding, but some is memorable. Perhaps most effective is the rhythmic “Terns Galore”: "Turning terns are all returning / There upon the shore." Short sidebars add interesting, informative details about each species and Donald Kroodsma, a well-known ornithologist, has added a short foreword. This is a welcome companion to A Mirror to Nature and An Egret’s Day (both 2009). (Informational poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59078-830-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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Overall, a thick collection of humorous verse that might have been funnier with thinner ambitions.

Gifted poet and illustrator Florian (Poem Runs: Baseball Poems, 2012, etc.) here presents a chunky collection of drawings and brief poems on a host of silly subjects.

Posited as a superstore of verse on assorted topics children care about—school, family, animals, food and the like—one also can’t help thinking this “depot” represents a midway point for a number of poems that haven’t quite reached their creative destinations. To be truly effective, light or nonsensical verse should be as tight in its poetic construction as it is loosely suggestive in metaphorical associations, and a number of the works assembled here simply read as not fully cooked. The volume’s more successful poems tend to employ wordplay to elicit a chuckle or illustrate delightfully nonsensical truisms about language, as in “Insect Asides”: “A dragonfly is not a fly. / It’s not a dragon either. / No butter on a butterfly, / And bees cannot spell neither.” Likewise, when paired well, Florian’s free-form pen-and-ink drawings enhance the whimsical nature of the fanciful scenes depicted. In “Pets,” a creepy drawing of a girl with hairy spiders crawling all over her face offers a convincing explanation for the accompanying poem’s punch line: “Bruce has ten pet roosters. / Ben has ten pet hens. / Fran has ten tarantulas, / But not too many friends.”

Overall, a thick collection of humorous verse that might have been funnier with thinner ambitions. (Poetry. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4042-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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