Quiet winter scenes / Santa ponders in writing, / sharing the season.

SANTA CLAUSES

SHORT POEMS FROM THE NORTH POLE

Santa himself is the purported author of this calm but bright collection of 25 haiku, one for each day of the December countdown to Christmas.

An introductory page scrolling out of Santa’s typewriter describes the poetic form and how Santa came to write haiku of his own. Some poems show Santa and Mrs. Claus in their old-fashioned home, enjoying the snow and preparing for Christmas with the elves, while others capture outdoor images of snowy trees and moonlight. Within the collection, all the traditional elements of haiku can be found: colorful imagery, unusual juxtapositions, associations with nature and a sense of sudden enlightenment, as in “Reading the reindeer’s / favorite bedtime story, / my cold nose grows red.” Another memorable glimpse into Santa’s life shows him reading to Mrs. Claus and their cat in a dark room next to the fireplace as the elves peek through a door. “Sitting by the fire / reading ‘A Christmas Carol,’ / listening for ghosts.” An oversize format gives plenty of room for intriguing illustrations with a muted palette and an Old World flavor. The volume’s thoughtful design uses a typewriter font to emphasize the personal nature of Santa’s haiku, with the chronological date for each day’s poem set in red. Anyone interested in haiku or poetry for children will find this collection a rare treat.

Quiet winter scenes / Santa ponders in writing, / sharing the season. (Picture books/poetry. 4-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1805-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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