Motivational and kind, these light poems and illustrations will embolden readers to take risks and “walk your own...

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I'LL ROOT FOR YOU

Lighthearted poems extol sport and human achievement—and the importance of losing.

Originally published in the Netherlands in 2013, van de Vendel’s 17 offbeat inspirational poems are handily translated into rhymed English verse by Australian children’s writer Colmer and accompanied by German illustrator Erlbruch’s expressively detailed digital renderings of familiar animals engaged in various human sports. Children will love Erlbruch’s zany depictions of dogs and pigs in swimsuits or a goose and a cat in racing and tennis togs, but what makes this collaboration shine is van de Vendel’s intense focus on the psychological effort central to playing sports and developing the resolve to accomplish goals in general. The delightful title poem talks about rooting for “you when you suddenly shine” as well as the “time you’re beaten”—not only “because this is my place, and I’m here to stay, / behind every finish and on every day,” but “because you must wait if you want to get great.” In “Here’s the Idea,” the speaker announces, “Today we’ll root for the losers. / Today we’ll cheer the other way round. / Today we’ll love everybody / whose somersault / never got off the ground,” promoting a similar message of steadfast support alongside a reality check.

Motivational and kind, these light poems and illustrations will embolden readers to take risks and “walk your own tightrope.” (Picture book/poetry. 5-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5501-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Both playful and enlightening, period.

A BUNCH OF PUNCTUATION

A collection of peppy poems and clever pictures explains different forms of punctuation.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s “A Punctuation Tale” kicks off the proceedings with a punny description of a day full of punctuation; goodnight is “cuddled / in quotation marks.” Ensuing poems discuss the comma, the apostrophe, the dash (“A subdued dude / in tweet and text / he signals what / is coming next”), the colon, the exclamation point, and ellipses. Allan Wolf’s poem about this last is called “…” and begins, “The silent ellipsis… / replaces…words missed.” Prince Redcloud’s “Question Marks” is particularly delightful, with the question “Why?” dancing diagonally down in stair steps. The emphatic answer is a repeated “Because!” Other poems pay tribute to quotation marks, the hyphen, and the period. Michele Kruger explains “The Purpose of Parentheses”: “inside a pair / ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) / of slender curves / we’ll hold your few / inserted words.” The final poem is editor Hopkins’ own, “Lines Written for You to Think About” (inspired by Carl Sandburg), urging young readers to write their own verses employing (what else?) punctuation. The 12 poets included work with a variety of devices and styles for an always-fresh feel. Bloch’s illustrations are delightfully surprising, both illustrating each poem’s key points and playfully riffing on the punctuation itself.

Both playful and enlightening, period. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59078-994-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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