Stick with Prelutsky and Silverstein.


A collection of poems to start the school year off with a laugh.

These 15 poems don’t explore new territory, focusing on the usual suspects: homework, chewing gum, school supplies, teachers, class pets on the loose, boogers and cafeteria food, among others. While some rollick along, many suffer from scansion and meter issues. For instance, in “Better Than Baseball,” a young boy extols recess activities: “Yet none are nearly as cool for you / As lying in wet grass / Putting bugs and worms in your pockets / And bringing them back to class.” The worst issue with this collection, however, especially for beginning readers, is the dearth of punctuation. In the entire book, there are 13 end marks, not one of them a period, and just three commas. This makes them difficult to read, particularly aloud: “You’re going out of your mind / You’re terribly distressed / Then you walk in front of a mirror / You’ve forgotten to get dressed.” Woodruff’s watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations are a nice mix of spot, single- and double-page spreads. While they are amusing and certainly play up the gross-out and surprise factors, they also often give away the punch lines of the poems.

Stick with Prelutsky and Silverstein. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-47981-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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The combination of haiku, attractive illustrations, and interesting information makes this a keeper.


This picture book combines poetry with facts about nature.

Using the arrival of morning as its focus and theme, this nonfiction book provides information about animal, insect, and bird life along with some general natural science. From birds’ singing in the morning through moths’ finding quiet spots to rest as the sun rises to the daily routines of rabbits, foxes, and other animals, readers will discover fascinating facts about Earth’s creatures. Combining entertainment and information, this book not only features the lives of animals, but it also explains why the sky changes color throughout the day and how the Earth’s rotation creates the phenomena of day and night. Each double-page spread highlights a different creature or natural phenomenon; there’s a haiku on verso and on recto, a moderately sized paragraph with both commonly known and more unusual facts. Highlighted words stand out as obvious vocabulary builders; readers can learn their meanings in the appended glossary. The illustrations are large-scale and vivid, with the palette lightening over the course of the book as morning takes hold. Illustrations are graphically simple, with cheerful cartoon animals contributing to the upbeat mood. An added bonus is a page at the back encouraging readers to write their own nature haiku.

The combination of haiku, attractive illustrations, and interesting information makes this a keeper. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62317-385-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: North Atlantic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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What could have been a calming bedtime story featuring the variety of things found in a library is spoiled by abrasive...


Bedtime stories are plentiful, but this one is anything but tender and restful.

In rhyming verse two kids say good night to all kinds of library items. “Good night, library; / Darkness falls. / It’s sleepy time / For these great walls. // Good night, library. / You must be tired / From all the learning / You’ve inspired.” The litany of items the text wishes good night includes poetry and prose, plots, puppet stages, computers, carpet squares, fairy tales, characters, filing cart, and more. This being a fairly modern library, they also bid good night to board games and comic books, but if there is a 3-D printer or makerspace, it goes unremarked. The apparent intent of this homage to libraries is well and good, but the visual execution lacks charm. The cartoonish illustrations are garish double-page spreads that bleed off the pages, and the intensity of the colors makes the pages appear crowded. Exaggeratedly bug-eyed kids act out the rhymes; they are a diverse lot. The librarian, a white woman, wears her hair in a bun but otherwise looks pretty darn hip; she wears a droopy gray sweater, black jeans, and pumps.

What could have been a calming bedtime story featuring the variety of things found in a library is spoiled by abrasive artwork. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-406-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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