The poetry shines in this collection that’s both imaginative and fun to read aloud.



A collection of six illustrated poems by teacher and musician Combs.

The book transforms common childhood experiences and life lessons into whimsical adventures. “The Bear Next to Me” restores order to a frightened young girl who is surprised in the night by what she thinks is a bear. “Where the Tooth Bumps Go” explains the texture of newly cut adult teeth (“The tooth fairy’s partner / has a degree / In the fine art / of Bumpology”) and also shows what a pickle has in common with a brown toad. Combs offers a few twists when she champions the kids who don’t think the great outdoors are so great in “Not Everyone Likes To Go To Camp” and addresses “The Problem with Giants” for young feminists who would like to see more lady giants in stories. In constructing her poetry, Combs puts her master’s degree in music performance to good use. With a galloping rhythm that’s reminiscent of “Paul Revere’s Ride,” the poetry practically sings. “What’s a Diddle?” is light on its feet in pursuit of mysterious pranksters: “If checkers / are jumping / and game boards / are thumping, / You / might / shoo / rude diddles outdoors!” The illustrations combine brush, pen, ink, colored pencil and graphite in a style that could be tacked to a board in an elementary school classroom.  Largely black and white, the occasional splash of color added to the illustrations gives the pictures an unfinished look, like a neglected coloring book, most noticeably in “Not Everyone Likes to Go to Camp.”  The gadgets and flying machines in “What’s a Diddle?” are nicely detailed, as are the giants in “The Problem with Giants.” The best illustrations feature a silly crocodile named “Crocodilly” who poses for photos in a variety of costumes and exotic locations where the pictures push the narrative beyond the text.

The poetry shines in this collection that’s both imaginative and fun to read aloud.

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-935631-04-0

Page Count: 126

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2010

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A festive invitation to creative liberation.


A pleasingly tactile exploration of the possibilities inherent in mistakes.

"A torn piece of paper... / is just the beginning!" Spills, folded paper, drips of paint, smudges and smears—they "all can make magic appear." An increasingly complex series of scenarios celebrates random accidents, encouraging artistic experimentation rather than discouragement. The folded-over paper can be a penguin's head; a torn piece of newsprint can turn into a smiling dog with a little application of paint; a hot-chocolate stain can become a bog for a frog. Thanks to a telescoping pop-up, a hole is filled with nearly limitless possibilities. The interactive elements work beautifully with the photo-collaged "mistakes," never overwhelming the intent with showiness. Saltzberg's trademark cartoon animals provide a sweetly childlike counterpoint to the artful scribbles and smears of gloppy paint.

A festive invitation to creative liberation. (Pop-up. 4-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7611-5728-1

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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From the artist who created last year's shoutingly vivid Growing Vegetable Soup, a companion volume about raising a flower garden. "Mom and I" plant bulbs (even rhizomes), choose seeds, buy seedlings, and altogether grow about 20 species. Unlike the vegetables, whose juxtaposed colors were almost painfully bright, the flowers make a splendidly gaudy array, first taken together and then interestingly grouped by color—the pages vary in size here so that colored strips down the right-hand side combine to make a broad rainbow. Bold, stylish, and indubitably inspired by real flowers, there is still (as with its predecessor) a link missing between these illustrations with their large, solid areas of color and the real experience of a garden. The stylized forms are almost more abstractions than representations (and why is the daisy yellow?). There is also little sense of the relative times for growing and blooming—everything seems to come almost at once. Perhaps the trouble is that Ehlert has captured all the color of the garden, but not its subtle gradations or the light, the space, the air, and the continual movement and change.

Pub Date: March 21, 1988

ISBN: 0152063048

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988

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