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Smart and sassy poems and accessible illustrations combine for an engaging, humorous package.

Twenty-two light poems and accompanying illustrations explore what happens after school.

Veteran author-illustrator duo Shields and Meisel team up again (Someone Used My Toothbrush and Other Bathroom Poems, 2010, etc.) to depict the full spectrum of fun to be had after school lets out. Looking at what typically happens at the end of the school day—homework, snacking, being reunited with pets, car pools, texting friends, a little instrument practice—Shields and Meisel paint a realistic portrait of how kids feel about these activities. From the opening pair of “2:48” poems, Shields quickly establishes the collection’s light, edgy tone, showing how student and teacher alike often find the last two minutes of the day “the slowest of all.” By week’s end, Shields cleverly uses end rhyme to highlight the irony to be found in a “Friday Night” sleepover: “We call it sleeping over— / That’s not exactly true. / We bring along our sleeping bags, / But sleep? Not what we do.” Throughout the volume, Meisel’s dynamic, childlike mixed-media illustrations effectively underscore the child’s perspective these poems so often provide. But occasionally Shields also shares some important advice as a former child, enlightening young readers as to the dangers of saying, “I’m bored!” to one’s parents or trying to mask unauthorized video game usage behind a beatific smile.

Smart and sassy poems and accessible illustrations combine for an engaging, humorous package. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3805-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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

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. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Limitless possibilities for future car designs are imagined in a collection of free-wheeling verses.

Everything from food items to animals to bathtubs and more are the inspirations for these strange vehicles. A paper car can be shredded if it breaks down, a bathtub car keeps you clean as you go, and a hot-dog car can be eaten at the end of the ride. A few of the verses refer either explicitly or obliquely to alternative fuels. There’s a battery-powered “Eel-ectric Car” and unused fossil-fueled wrecks in “Jurassic Park(ing),” and in “23rd-Century Motors,” oil and gas are totally passé. With a few exceptions the verses flow naturally with easy rhymes. Oddly, the first four lines of the introductory poem are awkward and not indicative of the mood and swing of the following lines and the remainder of the poems. But Lewis and Florian are both masters at creating lighthearted, fun-filled, breezy poems, and they do not disappoint in this joint venture. The text is placed as if on a stained and folded slip of paper, which is surrounded by Holmes’ highly imaginative, bright and lively illustrations, rendered in pencil and watercolors with digital colors added. Endpapers are tire-tracked, and the contents page matches line drawings to the titles. Young readers will almost certainly be inspired to create their own wacky cars. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)


Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-375-86690-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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