Signature silliness from Cleary and Rowland abounds in this children’s celebration of concrete poetry.

ODE TO A COMMODE

CONCRETE POEMS

From the Poetry Adventures series

In this second Poetry Adventures outing, poet Cleary and illustrator Rowland (If It Rains Pancakes: Haiku and Lantern Poems, 2014) again team up to explore a poetic form well suited for young readers.

A concrete poem, explains Cleary in his introduction to the pint-sized collection, “takes on the shape of whatever it is about,” with the topic “always an object (instead of a feeling or an idea)”; the poem’s “letters, words, or symbols are arranged on the page to form a picture of that object.” More staid attempts at concrete verse tend to rely on standard typefaces and creative spacing to form poems’ shapes, but here, Cleary’s 24 light subjects are aided mightily by Rowland’s intricately detailed hand-lettering and charming illustrations. The laments of a last piece of Halloween candy—“The caramel treats have been enjoyed, the nutty chocolate savored, / but no one wants a candy bar that’s ‘Tuna Salad’ flavored”—are laid out on what looks like a Kit Kat. A globe comprising balloon-shaped letters is positively buoyant: “orange / or blue and / full of helium / floating up / to reach the / ceili-um / string string string string string string.” A pretzel-shaped poem is set in letters that look as if they were drawn in mustard.

Signature silliness from Cleary and Rowland abounds in this children’s celebration of concrete poetry. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-4454-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A tour de force of interactive two-dimensional nature.

IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY

From the Brown Bear Wood series

Four seasons’ worth of poetic exploration into the bustling woods.

Piercey presents here 16 poems containing tightly rhymed quatrains inviting young readers to follow Bear out of the confines of their homes and into the forest from spring through winter. Arranged in double-page spreads, Hartas’ sumptuously action-packed forest scenes are rife with so much fauna and flora that Piercey provides legends pointing readers toward “what to spot” on each spread. Bear narrates: “My woodland’s full of animals, / of every different kind. / So shall we stay here for a while / and see what we can find?” (A bit distractingly, some words are set in a faux handwriting typeface.) Items to find include such delights as a “baby chipmunk in a hammock” or “two birds returning from their winter break”—delicately drawn with tiny suitcases in their claws. In each kid-styled Breughel-like tableau, creatures are busy doing something—building nests, getting ready for school, or celebrating Bunny’s birthday; even Bear’s off playing hide-and-seek with mice. In summer, some go for swimming lessons while others stage a play. Autumn’s chill starts to wind down the fun, as trees turn “orange, scarlet, gold, / each leaf a tongue of flame”—perfect for inspiring art class. In Hartas’ gifted hands, Piercey’s thriving woodland society celebrates all the joys of communing with the elements and one another. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 29.9% of actual size.)

A tour de force of interactive two-dimensional nature. (nature notes, further resources) (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5158-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Magic Cat

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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In a word, a feast for the eyes, brain, and artistic imagination.

THE WORDY BOOK

Words and pictures connect in surprising, stimulating ways.

Talk about painting with words. Author/illustrator Paschkis plays with them, too, and encourages readers to do likewise. In the process, she explores the elasticity and seemingly endless possibilities of language. The vividly colored, wittily detailed, folk-style paintings on double-page spreads organically incorporate words into the artwork in wondrous, creative ways. Words frequently repeat in different sizes and colors; illustrated images include words that sound or are shaped like them, are variations of them, rhyme or nearly rhyme with them, sort of resemble them, are sort of spelled like them, etc. A bouquet of flowers in a vase sports roses exuding the scents of slumber, sultry, shush, and other evocative words beginning with S; on a daisy’s petals readers find dizzy, doozy, lazy, jazzy; lief, leap, life, and more decorate the leaves. Delightful words—many of which readers won’t know, and that’s OK—flex vocabulary and spelling muscles to the max and also enhance readers’ visual and auditory senses when the pictures are taken in. Furthermore, the spreads are connected to thought-provoking questions. Some inspired the paintings, or vice versa, and themselves contain examples of wordplay. Persons depicted have diverse skin tones. The book makes a great springboard for creative-thinking activities in writing and art units in classroom and library programs. Keep dictionaries handy. Endpapers abound with swirling words readers can savor (and look up).

In a word, a feast for the eyes, brain, and artistic imagination. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-353-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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