FLAMINGOS ON THE ROOF

Twenty-eight more flights of fancy from a rapidly improving nabob of nonsense. Here, working mostly in flat, dark colors, Brown pairs scenes featuring stylized human and animal figures with big almond eyes to verses that introduce oddball sorts. So the portmanteau “Allicatter Gatorpillar,” takes readers to “Weatherbee’s Diner” where the cooks literally cook up a storm, and muse over such knotty questions as how an audience of slugs might applaud or whether it’s right to have a birthday cake with light bulbs rather than candles. The art isn’t all just post-modern decoration either; “Never mind the passing sights— / There’s nothing much to see,” Brown ironically assures readers as two riders in a “TV Taxi,” eyes glued to boob tubes, pass obliviously by a dodo, a dinosaur and other uncommon sights. Composed with a fine ear for consistent rhythms and silly wordplay, these verses will tempt readers into repeat visits, or as the poet puts it: “Swivel on your kneecap. / Wobble like a mud flap. / Take a little catnap. / Do it all again!” (Poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 3, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-56298-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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A poor performance, “[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE

Like the old man’s hose, Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” speech is “a world too wide” to be well-served by this paltry selection of 21 poems, three per “age.”

Hopkins tries to inject some color into the mix with Walt Whitman’s “When I heard the learn’d astronomer,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee?” and Lewis Carroll’s “You are old, father William.” Unfortunately, these, combined with passages from the speech itself, only make his other choices look anemic. To the “infant, / Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms,” for instance, Rebecca Kai Dotlich offers a bland “Amazing, your face. / Amazing”; on the facing page, a “traditional Nigerian lullaby” is stripped of music: “Sleep my baby near to me. / Lu lu lu lu lu lu.” Along with Joan Bransfield Graham’s “A Soldier’s Letter to a Newborn Daughter,” which ends with a condescending “I’m coming home / to my girls… / With All My Love, / DAD,” most of the rest are cast in prosaic free verse. Hopkins’ “Curtain,” probably written for this collection, closes the set with theatrical imagery. Billout supplies pale, distant views of small figures and some surreal elements in largely empty settings—appropriate, considering the poetry, but they lack either appeal for young audiences or any evocation of the Shakespearean lines’ vigorous language and snarky tone.

A poor performance, “[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56846-218-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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AN EGRET’S DAY

Poetry and short informative paragraphs combine to celebrate both the elegance and the natural history of the American egret. Haiku, free verse, rhyming couplets and even a limerick are just some of the forms Yolen masterfully uses to engage readers on both aesthetic and scientific levels. Gorgeous photography completes this carefully designed literary science piece with scenes of the egret’s daily life. Stemple captures the egret’s movements as the light of each part of the day, from the yellow-orange glow of sunrise to midday pink to late afternoon sunset blue to evening purple, is reflected on its snow-white feathers. Both the poetry and the brief fact-filled vignettes explain how egrets walk, eat, fly and preen and how their plumes, so lace-like, were once coveted for decorating clothes and hats. A final poem muses on the future of this great wading bird in a country filled with polluted wetlands. A stunning combination of scientific and ecological knowledge offered through a graceful fusion of lyrical and visual media. (Informational picture book/poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-650-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2009

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