Clever, fun poems that teach young readers about puns and idioms.

READ REVIEW

EMPTY BEACHES

From Fleishman (If the Earth Is Round, 2017, etc.), a stimulating volume of poetry for children interested in wordplay.

At the start of this book of 25 poems, Fleishman informs readers that he loves puns and idioms, and he isn’t kidding. In “Rodeo Rick,” a lapsed cowboy gets “back in the saddle again.” In “Lottery Ticket,” a man’s ticket and hopes simultaneously go “down the drain.” In a tug of war between steaks and fish on a grill, “Captain Steak tells his team, ‘Yes, we did it! We won! / I am proud of you steaks. This was very well done!’ ” In “Potato Chip War,” a 12-year-old bemoans the fact that he has to clean up a mess his 6-year-old brother made: “He looks annoyed / With that chip on his shoulder.” Thankfully, not every poem ends with a pun or an idiom. Fleishman’s anecdotes often focus on professional people involved in conundrums, such as “Check, Pretty Please?” where an exhausted waiter discreetly encourages two kings to finish up their meal: “After thinking of ways he can drop subtle hints / He brings out a small tray filled with end-of-meal mints / The two kings thank the waiter, continue to chat / They did not get his hint…oh well, so much for that!” Some poems, like “Dictionary,” evoke Shel Silverstein with their stubbornly determined characters hungry for knowledge: “This dictionary’s fun to read. I will not take a break. / I should be done by 10 PM if I can stay awake.” Fleishman defines homonyms, puns, and idioms in the appendix. He primarily alternates between rhyming couplets and quatrains, providing a steady and consistent rhythm throughout. At times, his noun and verb choices become redundant: “As they sit at a bar by the edge of a pool / Two enormous weightlifters each sit on a stool (emphasis added).” Illustrations by White—which vary in style from clip-art–esque to cartoonish to shades of Beavis and Butt-Head—may keep kids engaged if they get wordplay overload.

Clever, fun poems that teach young readers about puns and idioms.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 55

Publisher: Mindstir Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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