ZILOT & OTHER IMPORTANT RHYMES

A lackluster collection of verse enlivened by a few bright spots.

Poems on various topics by the actor/screenwriter and his kids.

In collaboration with his now-grown children—particularly daughter Erin, who adds gently humorous vignettes and spot art to each entry—Bob Odenkirk, best known for his roles in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, dishes up a poetic hodgepodge that is notably loose jointed in the meter and rhyme departments. The story also too often veers from child-friendly subjects (bedtime-delaying tactics, sympathy for a dog with the zoomies) to writerly whines (“The be-all and end-all of perfection in scribbling, / no matter and no mind to any critical quibbling”). Some of the less-than-compelling lines describe how a “plane ride is an irony / with a strange and wondrous duplicity.” A few gems are buried in the bunch, however, like the comforting words offered to a bedroom monster and a frightened invisible friend, not to mention an invitation from little Willy Whimble, who lives in a tuna can but has a heart as “big as can be. / Come inside, / stay for dinner. / I’ll roast us a pea!” They’re hard to find, though. Notwithstanding nods to Calef Brown, Shel Silverstein, and other gifted wordsmiths in the acknowledgments, the wordplay in general is as artificial as much of the writing: “I scratched, then I scrutched / and skrappled away, / scritching my itch with great / pan-a-ché…” Human figures are light-skinned throughout.

A lackluster collection of verse enlivened by a few bright spots. (Poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780316438506

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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A ROCKETFUL OF SPACE POEMS

The poems are, at best, lesser lights in the poetic firmament, but the pictures provide enough boost to get them off the...

Goofy cartoons featuring wildly baroque spacecraft and many-limbed aliens illustrate 26 poems, nearly all new and out of—or at least off—this world.

J. Patrick Lewis explains how long it would take to drive to the moon in “your average car”; Eric Finney firmly misdirects a Mars-bound UFO toward Venus; editor Foster himself writes from the Space Hotel that “Space-worms are delicious / And the chef says they are quite nutritious”; and Liz Brownlee introduces hapless alien tourist “Flurp Blurp”: “I broke 3 legs on Mars whilst skiing, / 3 more on Saturn’s rings sightseeing!” They and other poets tally otherworldly food, monsters, sports, and visitors. Lewis is the best-known of the 17 contributors, but regardless of their creators’ recognizability, the verses (most of which are rhymed) roll along merrily, and Paul cranks up the silliness with page-filling views of garishly colored planets, tentacle-waving, googly-eyed extraterrestrials, and spaceships sporting many extravagant pipes and rivets. A closing handful of short foolishness (including Julie Holder’s verse knock-knock joke, with “A human being what?” as its punch line) makes for a particularly enjoyable send-off.

The poems are, at best, lesser lights in the poetic firmament, but the pictures provide enough boost to get them off the ground. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84780-486-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

GOOD NIGHT, LIBRARY

What could have been a calming bedtime story featuring the variety of things found in a library is spoiled by abrasive...

Bedtime stories are plentiful, but this one is anything but tender and restful.

In rhyming verse two kids say good night to all kinds of library items. “Good night, library; / Darkness falls. / It’s sleepy time / For these great walls. // Good night, library. / You must be tired / From all the learning / You’ve inspired.” The litany of items the text wishes good night includes poetry and prose, plots, puppet stages, computers, carpet squares, fairy tales, characters, filing cart, and more. This being a fairly modern library, they also bid good night to board games and comic books, but if there is a 3-D printer or makerspace, it goes unremarked. The apparent intent of this homage to libraries is well and good, but the visual execution lacks charm. The cartoonish illustrations are garish double-page spreads that bleed off the pages, and the intensity of the colors makes the pages appear crowded. Exaggeratedly bug-eyed kids act out the rhymes; they are a diverse lot. The librarian, a white woman, wears her hair in a bun but otherwise looks pretty darn hip; she wears a droopy gray sweater, black jeans, and pumps.

What could have been a calming bedtime story featuring the variety of things found in a library is spoiled by abrasive artwork. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-406-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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