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

AFTER THE BELL RINGS

POEMS ABOUT AFTER-SCHOOL TIME

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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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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Some issues with design and tone but a mostly worthy appreciation of the women who stood and stand (if, sometimes, only...

HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT LADY BIRD?

POEMS ABOUT OUR FIRST LADIES

“We know Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, / but what about those other madams”?

For each first lady from Martha Washington (“Raised to be a planter’s wife, / taught how one behaves / as mistress of the household / and the household slaves”) to immigrant Melania Trump, Singer offers a thumbnail character study in verse that’s paired to an ink-and-wash figure by Carpenter. If there is any common theme, it’s mortality: Martha Jefferson, who died 19 years before her husband’s election, is represented by a framed silhouette over a silent pianoforte; Peggy Taylor lies prostrate before a tombstone; a veiled Jackie Kennedy looks out from an antique TV screen. Singer likewise often includes mention of lost husbands or children among references to favored causes and personal accomplishments. On the other hand, Mary Todd Lincoln, generously summed up as “an unlucky woman—kindly and cursed,” poses regally as her brown-skinned dressmaker (unnamed in the poem but identified in the endnotes) cuts up an American flag to make a gown while Abe stands nearby, gaping comically at a sheaf of bills. Brief profiles at the end add some detail but mostly just recap the poems’ content, and a pictorial timeline on the rear endpapers would serve as an index if the jacket flap didn’t cover a good portion of it.

Some issues with design and tone but a mostly worthy appreciation of the women who stood and stand (if, sometimes, only figuratively) next to the presidents. (Poetry/collective biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2660-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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