Positive reflections of children’s experiences within Mexican families balance this collection’s unevenness.

THE TACO MAGICIAN AND OTHER POEMS FOR CHILDREN / EL MAGO DE LOS TACOS Y OTROS POEMAS PARA NINOS

Bertrand’s collection of bilingual poems offers a (mostly) child’s view of the surrounding world.

Odes to cherished objects like Easter cascarones (confetti-filled eggs), favorite foods like cinnamon buñuelos, and fond moments like napping together in Pepo’s favorite chair root the poems in Mexican familial culture while also touching on universal topics. Lima-Padilla’s Spanish translation of the entire book follows the English version. The collection targets intermediate readers, but some poems reflect a much younger voice that likely won’t resonate with middle-grade readers: “We climb aboard, chugging upon the seats / as we ‘choo-choo’ along.” Others require more emotional depth from readers, as in the downright sad “My Piñata Cowboy,” in which a heartbroken child empathetically looks on at a piñata’s demise: “He’s beaten, broken and empty. / Why does no one care?” A tribute poem to the children of Houston compares Hurricane Harvey to a bully using a third-person adult perspective. The overall result is a lack of cohesive voice in both age and tone. In an author’s note, Bertrand cites previous appearances of some work, which helps to explain the disjointed perspective. Nevertheless, the odes to family members stand out for their genuine appreciation for slice-of-life moments, such as in relishing Abuelita’s delicious raisin tamales, Tía María’s hugs, or learning to dance to cumbia from Daddy.

Positive reflections of children’s experiences within Mexican families balance this collection’s unevenness. (Poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55885-891-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arté Público

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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The poetry here is well-done, and although there is no real topical or stylistic cohesion, the assortment offers something...

CLIMBING SHADOWS

POEMS FOR CHILDREN

This collection of 20 poems inspired by the poet’s volunteer work in a kindergarten lunchroom is united by authorship; entries address a variety of topics and are expressed in multiple styles.

The subject matter is generally accessible and of interest, including family vignettes (“The Snow Is Melting”), feelings (“afterschool”), animals (“a spider way of thinking,” “Owl Secrets”), and toys (“My Cars Never Sleep”). Length and format vary too: “Little Yellow House” is only nine words long; others have several stanzas. Not all utilize traditional capitalization and punctuation. Some layouts are straightforward, left-justified and single- or double-spaced; others feature irregular spaces between lines or between phrases on the same line but are not quite concrete poetry. Figurative language is especially effective in “The Envelope,” a litany of ways a child thinks of their mother. Most read well out loud, with appropriate scansion and without the pitfall of forced rhyme. Derby’s sophisticated illustrations, done in watercolor, digital collage, and India ink, have a subdued tone and leave room for the imagination; some are simple, small vignettes on white space, while others feature gently washy backgrounds.

The poetry here is well-done, and although there is no real topical or stylistic cohesion, the assortment offers something for readers with varying preferences. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-095-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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In the hands of the right presenter, this book could lead to exciting aural experiences.

BOOM! BELLOW! BLEAT!

ANIMAL POEMS FOR TWO OR MORE VOICES

Kids love to make animal noises.

The 13 poems in this collection vary in style, but all rely heavily on accurate animal sounds made by mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, and fish. A “performance key” on the contents page gives instructions for the proper reading by “two or more readers.” The poems are printed primarily in two colors, each meant for a reader (or readers) to read alternately, with a third signifying unison. The last poem, “Forest Orchestra,” has a different pattern, explained on that page, and could lead to a culminating symphony of sounds. With an adult leader to direct, the poems could become part of a creative performance piece, and use as a home read-aloud could lead to playful adult-child interaction. The bold, digital illustrations have a painterly feel. “Rattlesnake’s Warning,” with its words printed in white and orange on a black double-page spread, is wonderfully enhanced by a coiled snake with mouth agape and two sharp fangs waiting. This poem is one of the more powerful, with its short verses: “By night, / I see your heat / as I slither / near your feet” punctuated by the “chhhhhh-chhhhhh-chhhhhh” sound of the rattle. Fascinating closing notes offer opportunities for caregivers to extend the instruction, but children aren’t likely to peruse these dense pages.

In the hands of the right presenter, this book could lead to exciting aural experiences. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62091-520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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