This zany assortment of poetry is loosely organized around a bathroom theme. The eclectic subject matter of the 21 poems runs the gamut from downright silly to slightly icky. Selections such as “Troubles,” which celebrates the restorative powers of a bubble bath, and “Ahoy,” an ode to imaginative playtime in the tub, will appeal to younger readers. However, the wry humor of other selections, including “The Medicine Cabinet” and “Chore,” provides a plethora of “euww” moments for less squeamish older readers (“It smells all musty. / It’s kind of crusty, / Damp and dank, / And even rusty. / It’s a chore / We all abhor, / Cleaning the toilet, / Where it meets the floor”). Nonetheless, Shields’s creative wordplay and clever wit moderate the yuck factor and consistently provoke laughs. Meisel’s cheerfully irreverent illustrations provide a droll backdrop (quite literally, in the case of the toilet poem) to the playful rhymes. Whether teachers like it or not, this is sure to see a lot of use during poetry units. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-525-47937-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010



Marvelously crafted to inspire blooming writers.

This companion to Alexander and Sweet’s How To Read a Book (2019) offers children a path from swirling inspiration to poetry.

Alexander and Nikaido’s own poem, blossoming with metaphor, its similes multiplying like mushrooms, locates its advice in nature. “Begin / with a question, / like an acorn / waiting for spring.” Their free verse, at once economical and luminous, beautifully charts the process from thought to expression, inviting children to imagine boundlessly. Accentuating the work of poem-making, the authors offer advice on handling those teeming words: “Invite them / into your paper boat / and row row row / across the wild white expanse.” Sweet’s gouache-and-watercolor illustrations depict diverse, dynamically active people within a colorful universe of collaged cut shapes, word-strewn vintage papers, pebbles, and hand-lettered text. Endlessly inventive, she affixes a drawing to loose-leaf paper, making its straight lines leap up and over three rowboats. Opposite, a group of kids collect letter shapes in a vessel folded from an old book page. Echoing the sentiment of an introductory quote from poet Nikki Giovanni (“We are all either wheels or connectors. Whichever we are, we must find truth and balance, which is a bicycle”), the double spreads are peppered with circles, curves, and loops. Alexander and Nikaido end with a final, heartfelt call to poets-in-training: “Now, show us what you’ve found.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Marvelously crafted to inspire blooming writers. (notes from Alexander and Sweet) (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9780063060906

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023



Echoing Ashley Wolff’s 1988 approach to Stevenson’s poetic tribute to the power of imagination, Kirk begins with neatly drawn scenes of a child in a playroom, assembling large wooden blocks into, “A kirk and a mill and a palace beside, / And a harbor as well where my vessels may ride.” All of these acquire grand architectural details and toy-like inhabitants as the pages turn, until at last the narrator declares, “Now I have done with it, down let it go!” In a final twist, the young city-builder is shown running outside, into a well-kept residential neighborhood in which all the houses except his have been transformed into piles of blocks. Not much to choose between the two interpretations, but it’s a poem that every child should have an opportunity to know. (Picture book/poetry. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-689-86964-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

Close Quickview