The inspired and inspiring sense of play knows no bounds.

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I'M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING

AND OTHER NONSENSE FOR MISCHIEVOUS KIDS AND IMMATURE GROWN-UPS

A frolicking romp through the zany world of nonsense verse.

In the storied tradition of Nash, Lear, and Dr. Seuss, Harris joins forces with Smith to present over 100 original poems and illustrations dedicated to having some serious fun. Visual, aural, and downright guffaw-inspiring puns and riddles abound in this wildly imaginative and cleverly illustrated debut collection. Harris and Smith unite to preach the gospel of irreverence, daring children to explore and test parental—and poetic—limits in a variety of circumstances, whether through typography, illustration, or verse. In “Toasted Knight for Lunch Again?” Smith’s vividly textured multimedia double-page spread features Mama Dragon and Baby in conversation, as Baby points to lifeless Sir Gustav laid out on a plate, the feathery plume in his helmet serving as garnish, and whines, “No armor, Mom— / I want him / With the crust off!” In “ ’Tis Better,” Harris cheekily weighs in on the virtues of giving versus receiving, stating: “If that thing’s a black eye… / Then yeah, I believe it!” Harris and Smith even extend their banter to each other, Harris going so far as to bluntly state, “I Don’t Like My Illustrator,” and then Smith exacting revenge with a portrait of a snaggle-toothed, hairy-eared Harris with snot dripping from his nose.

The inspired and inspiring sense of play knows no bounds. (Poetry. 5-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-26657-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE UNDEFEATED

Past and present are quilted together in this innovative overview of black Americans’ triumphs and challenges in the United States.

Alexander’s poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson’s detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations chronicling “the unforgettable,” “the undeniable,” “the unflappable,” and “the righteous marching ones,” alongside “the unspeakable” events that shape the history of black Americans. The illustrator layers images of black creators, martyrs, athletes, and neighbors onto blank white pages, patterns pages with the bodies of slaves stolen and traded, and extends a memorial to victims of police brutality like Sandra Bland and Michael Brown past the very edges of a double-page spread. Each movement of Alexander’s poem is a tribute to the ingenuity and resilience of black people in the U.S., with textual references to the writings of Gwendolyn Brooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, and Malcolm X dotting stanzas in explicit recognition and grateful admiration. The book ends with a glossary of the figures acknowledged in the book and an afterword by the author that imprints the refrain “Black. Lives. Matter” into the collective soul of readers, encouraging them, like the cranes present throughout the book, to “keep rising.”

An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78096-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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