Let the effervescence in the pictures leaven the didacticism of the poems.

READ REVIEW

MAKE MAGIC! DO GOOD!

Indie best-seller Clayton (An Awesome Book!, 2012) offers this light collection of didactic verse for young readers as his traditional-publishing debut.

Accompanying these short lyric poems are Clayton’s own free-wheeling illustrations done with “two parts positive vibes and three parts watercolor sprinkles,” making for two-page spreads that give these potent messages added levity and much-needed breathing room. Many of these works make no bones about driving home clear imperatives like those found in the volume’s title piece: “Make magic / do good. / Be who you are. / Be what you should.” But Clayton’s more compelling poems are those that are downright silly—“Did you hear about the race? / Hooray! I came in second place. / And second place will do just fine / in a race to hug a porcupine”—or whose lessons are slightly muted, as in “Butterfly”: “If you find a caterpillar / and you keep it in a jar, / just think of how your life would be / if you weren’t where you are, / if someone put you in a bowl / or in a tiny box / or in an old aquarium / filled with shiny rocks.” While Clayton succinctly delivers a number of behavioral tips looking to foster kindness, generosity, courage and spontaneity in the next generation, his poetic touch is sometimes heavy-handed.

Let the effervescence in the pictures leaven the didacticism of the poems. (Poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5746-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more