Although the poems vary in quality, and few really stand out, this collection will enliven holiday units and programs in...

LET'S CELEBRATE!

FESTIVAL POEMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

With 24 poems—by Neruda, Longfellow, Emerson and Issa, as well as many contemporary children’s poets from Britain and the United States—this collection focuses on holidays celebrated in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Arranged month by month, it includes many cultural groups that now live in these places. Because it was published in the United Kingdom, there are some omissions that U.S. audiences will notice. While La Tomatima, a Spanish tomato-throwing festival, is included (with a Neruda poem that mentions Chile), there are no Latin American festivals represented. Native Americans are left out too, although there are a few children wearing feathers in the Thanksgiving picture, an illustration that does feature a multiracial celebration. Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Jews are all represented. The busily populated collage, watercolor and colored-pencil pictures are joyful and often humorous, but the snowman in the Hanukkah illustration that wears payes (side curls worn by Hasidic men) and a fedora may strike some as strange, and the Caribbean Carnival dancers may seem scantily clad (although realistic). The descriptions of the holidays are informative, although some additional information about the various calendars and a bibliography would be helpful.

Although the poems vary in quality, and few really stand out, this collection will enliven holiday units and programs in schools, libraries and religious institutions. (Poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84780-087-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A tour de force of interactive two-dimensional nature.

IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY

From the Brown Bear Wood series

Four seasons’ worth of poetic exploration into the bustling woods.

Piercey presents here 16 poems containing tightly rhymed quatrains inviting young readers to follow Bear out of the confines of their homes and into the forest from spring through winter. Arranged in double-page spreads, Hartas’ sumptuously action-packed forest scenes are rife with so much fauna and flora that Piercey provides legends pointing readers toward “what to spot” on each spread. Bear narrates: “My woodland’s full of animals, / of every different kind. / So shall we stay here for a while / and see what we can find?” (A bit distractingly, some words are set in a faux handwriting typeface.) Items to find include such delights as a “baby chipmunk in a hammock” or “two birds returning from their winter break”—delicately drawn with tiny suitcases in their claws. In each kid-styled Breughel-like tableau, creatures are busy doing something—building nests, getting ready for school, or celebrating Bunny’s birthday; even Bear’s off playing hide-and-seek with mice. In summer, some go for swimming lessons while others stage a play. Autumn’s chill starts to wind down the fun, as trees turn “orange, scarlet, gold, / each leaf a tongue of flame”—perfect for inspiring art class. In Hartas’ gifted hands, Piercey’s thriving woodland society celebrates all the joys of communing with the elements and one another. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 29.9% of actual size.)

A tour de force of interactive two-dimensional nature. (nature notes, further resources) (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5158-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Magic Cat

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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