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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The attempt to present science in a humorous way is a well-meaning one, but the effect seems rather lame for today's...

FACE BUG

For kids who love bugs! Gruesome but fascinating photomicrographs of 14 different bugs are the focus of this unusual science book that combines poetry, line drawings and scientific facts to bring bugs alive for curious children.

The bad puns flow relentlessly as a collection of small bugs, illustrated in rather dated-looking black-and-white line, visits the Face Bug Museum, where they learn to drill like a carpenter bee, experience the stinkbug’s stench, sip on nectar at the snack bar and measure the speed of the green darner dragonfly. The insects on display at the “museum”—the hickory horned devil, goldenrod stowaway moth, praying mantis and other exotica—are portrayed in superb, full-color micrographs by renowned nature photographer Siskind. The large close-up of the “Clydesdale of all flies,” the American horsefly, is particularly impressive. Humorous poems by U.S. Poet Laureate Lewis describe each insect; of the dogday harvestfly cicada, he writes, “What?! Two faces / On this mutt? / Creepy. Never / Mind his butt.” Four pages of backmatter give the insects the opportunity to “narrate” a little more information about themselves. The insect jokes keep going all the way to the author bios, so determined is the book to remain light and accessible.

The attempt to present science in a humorous way is a well-meaning one, but the effect seems rather lame for today's visually sophisticated kids and might work better as an app than a book. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59078-925-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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