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Overall, a thick collection of humorous verse that might have been funnier with thinner ambitions.

Gifted poet and illustrator Florian (Poem Runs: Baseball Poems, 2012, etc.) here presents a chunky collection of drawings and brief poems on a host of silly subjects.

Posited as a superstore of verse on assorted topics children care about—school, family, animals, food and the like—one also can’t help thinking this “depot” represents a midway point for a number of poems that haven’t quite reached their creative destinations. To be truly effective, light or nonsensical verse should be as tight in its poetic construction as it is loosely suggestive in metaphorical associations, and a number of the works assembled here simply read as not fully cooked. The volume’s more successful poems tend to employ wordplay to elicit a chuckle or illustrate delightfully nonsensical truisms about language, as in “Insect Asides”: “A dragonfly is not a fly. / It’s not a dragon either. / No butter on a butterfly, / And bees cannot spell neither.” Likewise, when paired well, Florian’s free-form pen-and-ink drawings enhance the whimsical nature of the fanciful scenes depicted. In “Pets,” a creepy drawing of a girl with hairy spiders crawling all over her face offers a convincing explanation for the accompanying poem’s punch line: “Bruce has ten pet roosters. / Ben has ten pet hens. / Fran has ten tarantulas, / But not too many friends.”

Overall, a thick collection of humorous verse that might have been funnier with thinner ambitions. (Poetry. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4042-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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“He called on me. / My answer’s wrong. / Caught like a squirrel / on an open lawn. / Standing alone, / twiddling my paws, / frozen in place, / working my jaws. / I’d like to bolt, / but where? / I moan. / Could anyone / be more / alone?” Poet, educator and storyteller Holbrook returns with a collection of 41 poems about school worries and classroom problems. Here readers find substitutes and pop quizzes, bullies and homework storms. Nearly half of the poems have appeared in previous collections, but here the white space around each poem is filled with poetry facts, definitions and challenges to get young poets writing. Some entries are more successful than others; a few have odd rhymes, others a jangle in the rhythm. The title, too, is quite misleading: There is only one zombie poem. However, the subjects will resonate, and the hints and tips will excite young writers whether they currently love poetry or not. Sandstrom’s serviceable pen, ink and faded watercolor spot illustrations are as hit-and-miss as the poems. This is good classroom poetry, though, if not verse for the ages. (Poetry. 9-11)



Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-820-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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