Though touted as a child’s “first” poetry collection, Zolotow’s heartwarming seasonal verse charms all ages.

CHANGES

A CHILD'S FIRST POETRY COLLECTION

A newly gathered collection of timeless seasonal poems originally published in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, with all-new illustrations.

At the time of her death in 2013, the legendary Zolotow had written almost as many children’s books as her 98 years. The present collection “celebrating the seasons” pairs 28 of her poems with vibrant mixed-media illustrations by Beeke. With signature clarity and lyricism, Zolotow captures the immensity of change in the natural world. They range from a spring snapshot brief and spare as “Crocus”—“Little crocus / like a cup, / holding all that sunlight up!”—to a more extended reminiscence of the comfort of being held by her mother during a “sleepless” winter’s night: “I remember that night, / with the snow / white, white, white, / and my mother’s arms around me / warm and tight.” Beeke employs color, texture and detail to realize these warm, inviting scenes and brilliantly captures Zolotow’s natural wonders, as in “Beetle,” where she effectively depicts how a Japanese beetle’s wings “glisten / like a small rainbow / in the sun!” with a delightfully iridescent smudge. The book’s only failing is in the sad preponderance of Caucasian children depicted in its pages.

Though touted as a child’s “first” poetry collection, Zolotow’s heartwarming seasonal verse charms all ages. (Picture book/poetry. 4 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4926-0168-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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There’s always tomorrow.

TOMORROW IS WAITING

A lyrical message of perseverance and optimism.

The text uses direct address, which the title- and final-page illustrations suggest comes from an adult voice, to offer inspiration and encouragement. The opening spreads reads, “Tonight as you sleep, a new day stirs. / Each kiss good night is a wish for tomorrow,” as the accompanying art depicts a child with black hair and light skin asleep in a bed that’s fantastically situated in a stylized landscape of buildings, overpasses, and roadways. The effect is dreamlike, in contrast with the next illustration, of a child of color walking through a field and blowing dandelion fluff at sunrise. Until the last spread, each child depicted in a range of settings is solitary. Some visual metaphors falter in terms of credibility, as in the case of a white-appearing child using a wheelchair in an Antarctic ice cave strewn with obstacles, as the text reads “you’ll explore the world, only feeling lost in your imagination.” Others are oblique in attempted connections between text and art. How does a picture of a pale-skinned, black-haired child on a bridge in the rain evoke “first moments that will dance with you”? But the image of a child with pink skin and brown hair scaling a wall as text reads “there will be injustice that will challenge you, and it will surprise you how brave you can be” is clearer.

There’s always tomorrow. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-99437-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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