Readers who take silliness seriously are well-advised to “sit back and sample this humble compendium. / Begin in the middle...

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POEMS, PAINTINGS, AND SERIOUS NONSENSE

Fifty-odd (with and without the hyphen) new poems from a nabob of nonsense, with appropriate artplay to go with the wordplay.

“NASA has a bakery. / A spaceship in disguise. / Everybody talks about its meteoric ryes.” In between an “Intro” and an “Outro” promoting the notion that nonsense is serious business and offering pointers for readers eager to get started creating their own, Brown arranges examples cast in a variety of meters and rhyme schemes. The tone varies too, as along with clever own-sake exercises in language and lexicography (from “Borscht”: “This poem is the worscht. / The rhymes are forscht”) are verses on family ties and friendships, a “New Technique” for getting to sleep when sheep-counting palls, fretting over “Stingy” behavior, and ruminations on dust “Motes” passing in and out of sunbeams. The last is delivered by a woman in hijab, and throughout the naively stylized illustrations, human figures are likewise cast with an evident eye to diversity—even if bodies are sometimes those of insects and skin comes in gray or green as well as more likely hues. Birds surrounding the title poem carry banners welcoming all poetry readers and writers in inclusive terms: “Not ‘of a feather’ / But we flock together / Forever united / All are invited!”

Readers who take silliness seriously are well-advised to “sit back and sample this humble compendium. / Begin in the middle or go back from the endium.” (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9929-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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