ANIMAL SENSE

Poet and naturalist Ackerman (The Night Crossing, 1994, etc.) examines the five senses by way of the animal kingdom. In “Hearing,” she talks first about the sounds of bats, which we cannot hear; then the sound of humpback whales; and lastly, of birds: “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. / It sings because it has a song.” For “Vision,” the way bees and owls, “binoculars with wings,” view the world plays against how we perceive swans and polar bears and blue jays, with a tiny lesson in how light makes color happen. “Taste” fascinates with a certain amount of ickiness, “Flies taste food with their feet. / If it’s good to dance in, it’s good to eat.” She finds all the myriad flavors of grass for a cow and the vicious daintiness of a leopard on the prowl. The rhymed verse is by turns giddy, extravagant, and thoughtful, and always unsentimental. Sís (Scranimals, p. 1042, etc.) opens each section with a kid’s round head, a labyrinth sketched where the seat of that sense is—at the mouth for taste, two labyrinth spirals for ears, etc. The poems have full-page images faced with text and a related vignette, Sís’s shimmering, calligraphic pointillism rendered in a single color, contrasts with the color of the sans-serif type font. Brown, black, blue, magenta, and green are used in saturated but subdued tones, and the whole makes quite a pretty piece of bookmaking. Good poetry, fine illustration, a bit of natural history gently rendered and more than occasionally funny—what child could ask for anything more than this exquisite little gem? (Poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-82384-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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DINOSAURS GALORE!

A dozen familiar dinosaurs introduce themselves in verse in this uninspired, if colorful, new animal gallery from the authors of Commotion in the Ocean (2000). Smiling, usually toothily, and sporting an array of diamonds, lightning bolts, spikes and tiger stripes, the garishly colored dinosaurs make an eye-catching show, but their comments seldom measure up to their appearance: “I’m a swimming reptile, / I dive down in the sea. / And when I spot a yummy squid, / I eat it up with glee!” (“Ichthyosaurus”) Next to the likes of Kevin Crotty’s Dinosongs (2000), illustrated by Kurt Vargo, or Jack Prelutsky’s classic Tyrannosaurus Was A Beast (1988), illustrated by Arnold Lobel, there’s not much here to roar about. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58925-044-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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An emotional and powerful story with soaring poetry.

THE LAND OF THE CRANES

A fourth grader navigates the complicated world of immigration.

Betita Quintero loves the stories her father tells about the Aztlán (the titular land of cranes), how their people emigrated south but were fabled to return. Betita also loves to write. She considers words like “intonation,” “alchemy,” and “freedom” to be almost magic, using those and other words to create picture poems to paint her feelings, just like her fourth grade teacher, Ms. Martinez, taught her. But there are also words that are scary, like “cartel,” a word that holds the reason why her family had to emigrate from México to the United States. Even though Betita and her parents live in California, a “sanctuary state,” the seemingly constant raids and deportations are getting to be more frequent under the current (unnamed) administration. Thinking her family is safe because they have a “petition…to fly free,” Betita is devastated when her dad is taken away by ICE. Without their father, the lives of the Quinteros, already full of fear and uncertainty, are further derailed when they make the small mistake of missing a highway exit. Salazar’s verse novel presents contemporary issues such as “zero tolerance” policies, internalized racism, and mass deportations through Betita’s innocent and hopeful eyes, making the complex topics easy to understand through passionate, lyrical verses.

An emotional and powerful story with soaring poetry. (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-34380-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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