Even listeners who aren’t quite sure what some of the words mean will enjoy listening to their soothing, sonorous flow and...

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PRAISE SONG FOR THE DAY

A POEM FOR BARACK OBAMA'S PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION

A moving poem broadens its potential impact with evocative, dreamlike illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Diaz.

Written for Barack Obama’s inauguration, Alexander’s poem uses sophisticated language and images both abstract and concrete to celebrate the diversity of the world we live in, the history that brought us to the day our first African-American president was sworn in and the hope that event inspired. The rhythmic language begins in the present, describing everyday activities. From there Alexander takes us to “dirt roads and highways” that lead both back in time to show the work and struggle that went into creating our world and forward into the hopeful future. Diaz finds ways to both reflect and explicate the complexity of Alexander’s work. His illustrations, focused primarily on a mother and child, create a sense of connection and should help to make the poem accessible to young listeners. By contrast, several double-page montages allow him to include multiple characters and situations in a single composition. Jewel-like colors, intricate patterns and the shifting intensity of light and dark combine beautifully to bring depth and texture to simple silhouettes of people, places and things.

Even listeners who aren’t quite sure what some of the words mean will enjoy listening to their soothing, sonorous flow and poring over the pictures to find vivid glimpses of their own and others’ lives and dreams. (Picture book. 6 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-192663-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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A poor performance, “[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE

Like the old man’s hose, Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” speech is “a world too wide” to be well-served by this paltry selection of 21 poems, three per “age.”

Hopkins tries to inject some color into the mix with Walt Whitman’s “When I heard the learn’d astronomer,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee?” and Lewis Carroll’s “You are old, father William.” Unfortunately, these, combined with passages from the speech itself, only make his other choices look anemic. To the “infant, / Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms,” for instance, Rebecca Kai Dotlich offers a bland “Amazing, your face. / Amazing”; on the facing page, a “traditional Nigerian lullaby” is stripped of music: “Sleep my baby near to me. / Lu lu lu lu lu lu.” Along with Joan Bransfield Graham’s “A Soldier’s Letter to a Newborn Daughter,” which ends with a condescending “I’m coming home / to my girls… / With All My Love, / DAD,” most of the rest are cast in prosaic free verse. Hopkins’ “Curtain,” probably written for this collection, closes the set with theatrical imagery. Billout supplies pale, distant views of small figures and some surreal elements in largely empty settings—appropriate, considering the poetry, but they lack either appeal for young audiences or any evocation of the Shakespearean lines’ vigorous language and snarky tone.

A poor performance, “[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56846-218-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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An unusually slight offering from an author whose work is usually so compelling.

BRAVO!

POEMS ABOUT AMAZING HISPANICS

This book features the lives of a variety of Latinos who faced life’s challenges with aplomb and in their own ways.

Celebrated Cuban-American author Engle presents the lives of some well-known Latinos such as the musician Tito Puente, labor union organizer César Chávez, and National Baseball Hall of Fame player Roberto Clemente. Others are not as familiar to children today but still left their marks on our country: Father Félix Varela, who became an advocate of equal rights for Irish immigrants; Paulina Pedroso, who openly defied racial segregation; Aída de Acosta, who flew a dirigible six months before the Wright brothers flew the first airplane; and George Meléndez Wright, first chief of the National Parks Wildlife Division and a renowned conservationist. Given his close association with Cuba rather than the United States, the inclusion of poet José Martí is puzzling. Each one of the 18 people presented is awarded a double-page spread. On one page each person is stunningly portrayed in López’s strong and vibrant style; opposite is a first-person biographical poem that provides a glimpse into its subject’s life. At the end of the book the author has included a brief biographical note about each, yet between poem and note readers may find they are left with a large information gap. A further list of other outstanding Latinos is also included.

An unusually slight offering from an author whose work is usually so compelling. (Picture book/biography/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9876-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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