A cheerful way to make a connection with the natural world.




Twenty lighthearted poems imagine the goings-on at insect school.

From arrival to the end of the day, through lessons, lunch, and recess, Harrison places anthropomorphic, familiar insects in a school environment. Graceful and humorous, these short poems allude to typical behaviors. The termites eat everything; the crickets learn to hide and annoy; the school nurse, a mosquito, always wants to draw blood; and the stink bugs…stink. With deftly constructed rhyme and rhythm patterns, lively language, and alliteration, his poems have immediate appeal. They’re splendidly matched by whimsical cartoons that reward a second look. Bayless uses watercolor, ink, colored pencil, and digital media to portray the insect scholars and their teachers. These busy “bugs,” partially clothed in pants or skirts or shirts and sometimes shoes, are engaged in appropriate activities. A horsefly sadly contemplates the D- minus in Social Skills on his report card. A ladybug attempts to count a page filled with tiny aphids. A squad of insect cheerleaders acrobatically chants the school motto: “NEVER EAT A FRIEND AT SCHOOL!” And the grasshoppers complain: “It’s fine to eat / the farmer’s crop / but eating US / has got to stop!!” This entertaining new collection would pair nicely with the author’s Bugs: Poems about Creeping Things, illustrated by Rob Shepperson (2007), for classroom use.

A cheerful way to make a connection with the natural world. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62979-204-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Both playful and enlightening, period.


A collection of peppy poems and clever pictures explains different forms of punctuation.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s “A Punctuation Tale” kicks off the proceedings with a punny description of a day full of punctuation; goodnight is “cuddled / in quotation marks.” Ensuing poems discuss the comma, the apostrophe, the dash (“A subdued dude / in tweet and text / he signals what / is coming next”), the colon, the exclamation point, and ellipses. Allan Wolf’s poem about this last is called “…” and begins, “The silent ellipsis… / replaces…words missed.” Prince Redcloud’s “Question Marks” is particularly delightful, with the question “Why?” dancing diagonally down in stair steps. The emphatic answer is a repeated “Because!” Other poems pay tribute to quotation marks, the hyphen, and the period. Michele Kruger explains “The Purpose of Parentheses”: “inside a pair / ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) / of slender curves / we’ll hold your few / inserted words.” The final poem is editor Hopkins’ own, “Lines Written for You to Think About” (inspired by Carl Sandburg), urging young readers to write their own verses employing (what else?) punctuation. The 12 poets included work with a variety of devices and styles for an always-fresh feel. Bloch’s illustrations are delightfully surprising, both illustrating each poem’s key points and playfully riffing on the punctuation itself.

Both playful and enlightening, period. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59078-994-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Readers who take silliness seriously are well-advised to “sit back and sample this humble compendium. / Begin in the middle...



Fifty-odd (with and without the hyphen) new poems from a nabob of nonsense, with appropriate artplay to go with the wordplay.

“NASA has a bakery. / A spaceship in disguise. / Everybody talks about its meteoric ryes.” In between an “Intro” and an “Outro” promoting the notion that nonsense is serious business and offering pointers for readers eager to get started creating their own, Brown arranges examples cast in a variety of meters and rhyme schemes. The tone varies too, as along with clever own-sake exercises in language and lexicography (from “Borscht”: “This poem is the worscht. / The rhymes are forscht”) are verses on family ties and friendships, a “New Technique” for getting to sleep when sheep-counting palls, fretting over “Stingy” behavior, and ruminations on dust “Motes” passing in and out of sunbeams. The last is delivered by a woman in hijab, and throughout the naively stylized illustrations, human figures are likewise cast with an evident eye to diversity—even if bodies are sometimes those of insects and skin comes in gray or green as well as more likely hues. Birds surrounding the title poem carry banners welcoming all poetry readers and writers in inclusive terms: “Not ‘of a feather’ / But we flock together / Forever united / All are invited!”

Readers who take silliness seriously are well-advised to “sit back and sample this humble compendium. / Begin in the middle or go back from the endium.” (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9929-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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