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COMETS, STARS, THE MOON, AND MARS

SPACE POEMS AND PAINTINGS

Stunning mixed-media illustrations accompany a series of poems that celebrate the wonder and mystery of space. From the universe, the sequence narrows its focus to the galaxy, the solar system and then each body in turn, from the sun to poor demoted Pluto, and beyond. The verse is characteristically playful, wrapping itself around astronomical facts with ease. Readers will learn about the temperature and size of the sun, our moon’s phases and Voyager 2’s discovery of Neptune’s rings. Delightful as the poems are, however, it’s this volume’s illustrations that surpass. Bright gouache on brown paper bags lend texture to each spread; stamped words allow the illustrations to incorporate such details as names of moons and “sun” in several different languages; collage elements add further whimsy to the whole. To top off this feast for the eyes, occasional die-cuts provide telescopic windows onto adjoining spreads, firmly establishing for the reader the truth that space is a vast continuum, with new surprises in every corner of the sky. Each poem receives a thumbnail gloss at the end, offering additional facts or extending the information presented earlier. Glorious. (Picture book/poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-15-205372-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014


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THE CROSSOVER

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

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Newbery Medal Winner

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. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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