Crocus-poking, mud-luscious enjoyment.

READ REVIEW

ON A SNOW-MELTING DAY

SEEKING SIGNS OF SPRING

Full-color photography and sparse, rhyming verse offer a look at early spring in a temperate climate.

Text, art, and layout are clever, thoughtful, and engaging. One double-page spread gives the beginning of a sentence that will have several different endings over the pages that follow; the sequence is repeated four times. The opening pages start with “On a drip-droppy, / slip-sloppy, / snow-melting day….” Each of those three descriptions is accompanied by a clear and beautiful stock photograph; contrasting black or white text over the photographs is large and legible. The pages that follow use rhyming couplets with their own photographs to end that preceding phrase: “Squirrels cuddle. / Snakes huddle. / Clouds break. / Salamanders wake.” Plants, animals, and human beings are all included in the signs of spring; children will relate strongly to soaked mittens, boots in puddles, melting snowmen, and swinging on a tire swing. A particularly stunning photograph shows a chickadee, wings whirring, sipping water from a dripping icicle. Explanations of this and all the early spring phenomena depicted are offered at the back of the book, extending the age level from preschool to early primary grades. The overall theme, as well as the creative use of noun-verb combinations to form new adjectives, also lends itself to introducing children to the e.e. cummings poem that begins “in Just-spring.” One photograph shows two humans, both presenting as white.

Crocus-poking, mud-luscious enjoyment. (glossary, further reading) (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7813-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Both playful and enlightening, period.

A BUNCH OF PUNCTUATION

A collection of peppy poems and clever pictures explains different forms of punctuation.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s “A Punctuation Tale” kicks off the proceedings with a punny description of a day full of punctuation; goodnight is “cuddled / in quotation marks.” Ensuing poems discuss the comma, the apostrophe, the dash (“A subdued dude / in tweet and text / he signals what / is coming next”), the colon, the exclamation point, and ellipses. Allan Wolf’s poem about this last is called “…” and begins, “The silent ellipsis… / replaces…words missed.” Prince Redcloud’s “Question Marks” is particularly delightful, with the question “Why?” dancing diagonally down in stair steps. The emphatic answer is a repeated “Because!” Other poems pay tribute to quotation marks, the hyphen, and the period. Michele Kruger explains “The Purpose of Parentheses”: “inside a pair / ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) / of slender curves / we’ll hold your few / inserted words.” The final poem is editor Hopkins’ own, “Lines Written for You to Think About” (inspired by Carl Sandburg), urging young readers to write their own verses employing (what else?) punctuation. The 12 poets included work with a variety of devices and styles for an always-fresh feel. Bloch’s illustrations are delightfully surprising, both illustrating each poem’s key points and playfully riffing on the punctuation itself.

Both playful and enlightening, period. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59078-994-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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