WE THE PEOPLE

POEMS

Katz has experimented with writing poems in the voices of Americans of the past, utilizing this approach with original poems in American History Poems (1998). In this new collection, 28 of the 30 poems from that volume are reprinted, along with 37 new poems written for this one. Her impeccable research is reflected in both the panoramic scope and exacting details of this project, with an amazing variety of poems in voices representing every age group and many cultures and perspectives. Each indicates its “author,” the date, and the place of composition. At the bottom of each page, important dates and quotations are printed in light blue, helping ground each poem in historical context, and providing a time line throughout the book. Some of the poems are in the voices of famous leaders, explorers, or inventors who were actual historical figures; others are by average men or women of the author’s invention; and many of the poems are in the fictional voices of children and young adults. The poems are presented in chronological order, divided into sections for each century. Crews (Ghost Story, 2000) provides a photographic montage to introduce each section, with a different typeface used for the poems of each century, moving gradually toward a more modern look. The poetic forms also progress through the centuries, from structured poems in formal language to more casual and humorous poems to modern formats such as rap, shape poems, and even a collection of e-mails. An author’s note, bibliography, and source notes on the art are also included. Creative teachers will like the possibilities inherent in this collection: for choral readings, a “poetry through the centuries” performance, or as a spark for poetry-writing assignments. A chorus of lively, informative voices waiting to be discovered by those who make the effort to listen. (Poetry. 9+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-16531-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history.

ON THE HORIZON

In spare verse, Lowry reflects on moments in her childhood, including the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. 

When she was a child, Lowry played at Waikiki Beach with her grandmother while her father filmed. In the old home movie, the USS Arizona appears through the mist on the horizon. Looking back at her childhood in Hawaii and then Japan, Lowry reflects on the bombings that began and ended a war and how they affected and connected everyone involved. In Part 1, she shares the lives and actions of sailors at Pearl Harbor. Part 2 is stories of civilians in Hiroshima affected by the bombing. Part 3 presents her own experience as an American in Japan shortly after the war ended. The poems bring the haunting human scale of war to the forefront, like the Christmas cards a sailor sent days before he died or the 4-year-old who was buried with his red tricycle after Hiroshima. All the personal stories—of sailors, civilians, and Lowry herself—are grounding. There is heartbreak and hope, reminding readers to reflect on the past to create a more peaceful future. Lowry uses a variety of poetry styles, identifying some, such as triolet and haiku. Pak’s graphite illustrations are like still shots of history, adding to the emotion and somber feeling. He includes some sailors of color among the mostly white U.S. forces; Lowry is white.

A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history. (author’s note, bibliography) (Memoir/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-12940-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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