More of the same—but a nice more.

NO FAIR! NO FAIR!

AND OTHER JOLLY POEMS OF CHILDHOOD

The Thurber Prize winner’s first collection of poetry for children has a familiar feel, except for that blue hyena.

In poems generally inspired by real-life experiences, Trillin turns his gaze upon the ebb and flow of childhood. The kids here are sure to strike a familiar chord with anyone who knows a stuffed-animal hoarder or has a sister incapable of keeping to her side of the back seat. For readers accustomed to Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and the like, Trillin breaks little new ground with this collection, presenting such usual suspects as kids who want a dog (“To Get a Pet”), unwanted younger siblings (“Baby Brother Billy”), and bossy older siblings (“Who Plays What”). There are some notable exceptions, however, as in “Who’s the Awfulest Kid in Your Class?” in which a nephew with an inquisitive uncle feels compelled to invent a bully. Trillin’s wordplay can be enjoyable (“She’s over the line, / She’s over the line. / She occupies space / That’s rightfully mine”) but more often than not merely feels diligent. Chast’s beleaguered, oft-frenzied, only occasionally multiracial denizens do much to elevate Trillin’s familiar subjects. Her blue hyena is an exercise in child-friendly psychosis, while her pictorial demonstration of shoe-tying mishaps is laugh-out-loud funny.

More of the same—but a nice more. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-82578-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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This oversized volume won’t fit on a bookshelf; leave it open on a table to display the art.

NEIGHBORS

THE YARD CRITTERS TOO

From the Neighbors series

Poems celebrate 12 animals that might be found in American backyards.

This collection complements Held and Kim's The Yard Critters (2011), which similarly invites young readers to think about beings that share their world. From ladybugs to chipmunks, each double-page spread features a different creature, one that may be familiar from storybooks, if not from personal experience. In a few short stanzas, the poet describes both attributes and habits. Of the porcupine: “It’s a thrill / to see this / walking quill / cushion // strolling uphill / from the cellar / where he’s built / a den down under.” “So much / does Nature / love her, / Shrew // can birth / ten litters / per year— / whew!” There’s even a riddle: “Flying from Belize to bless our summer, / this ingenious gem is called the ———.” (The word “hummer” appears in a later poem, “Field Mouse.”) Not all the ideas are important or even accurate; this is not an informational book. Nor are these your usual children’s poems. The vocabulary is sophisticated. The rhymes and sound patterns are complex and vary unpredictably. With only 12 poems, this title may seem slight. What adds value are Kim’s intriguing collage illustrations, creating stylized but recognizable animal images set on generous white space with elements crossing the gutter to lead eyes to the text.

This oversized volume won’t fit on a bookshelf; leave it open on a table to display the art. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-916754-26-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Filsinger & Co.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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When budgets or problems aren’t quite right for the likes of Spider-Man or the Dark Knight, here’s a reasonably priced...

THE SUPERHEROES EMPLOYMENT AGENCY

From Blunder Woman to Stuporman, this gallery of underemployed B-list superheroes is up for any task.

Got rats and mice? Call on the (inch-high) Verminator! Supernatural foes will flee from the garlic foam wielded by Muffy the Vampire Sprayer. Afflicted by gangsters? “When racketeers insist on quiet / and it’s not wise to start a riot, / send the Baby, send the Baby.” Furthermore, “And if those cries don’t make them hyper, / Weapon Two is in the diaper.” Along with having distinct individual powers and abilities, several of these eager job seekers combine to offer enhanced services. Armored Sir Knightly and The Masked Man, both aging veterans, can team up to entertain at children’s parties, for instance, and Kelly (ejected from the Green Lantern Corps for wearing a heterodox shade of green) will join silk-spinner Caterpillar to design stylish new costumes for “Trendy Defenders.” Using a free range of page designs from sequential panels to full-spread scenes, Jones reflects both the changing rhythms and the overall buoyancy of Singer’s rhymes with simply drawn, brightly colored cartoon views of each S.E.A. member in action.

When budgets or problems aren’t quite right for the likes of Spider-Man or the Dark Knight, here’s a reasonably priced alternative. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-43559-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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