Rites of passage incandescently brought to light.

This poetic tale chronicles the presence and contributions of African American midwives.

A five-page historical introduction explains a few specific details of the role of the midwife, including noting their contributions dating back to the time of slavery; this is accompanied by archival, black-and-white photographs. Seven poems follow, celebrating midwives through history. First, Greenfield describes the trans-Atlantic slave journey and how, in America, the elder women taught the younger girls the knowledge and skill of assisting in childbirth, or “catching the babies.” The poem “After Emancipation, 1863” speaks to the special exuberance expressed by parents whose children were at last born free from slavery: The midwife “felt the / excitement circling through / the room. / …it was more than / the joy of a new baby coming.” In “The Early 1900s,” the midwife now had more than her hands for the job; she had a stethoscope, scales, and, most likely, her husband, who would transport her via horse and buggy to deliver babies. The poems are accompanied by colorful, symbolic artwork by Minter. One striking image depicts five women connected by sinuous, draping robes, heads bowed in concentration, “gentle, loving” hands at the ends of muscular arms “guid[ing babies] into the world.” Greenfield also includes black-and-white photographs of her childhood self, a nod to “Miss Rovenia Mayo,” the midwife who “caught” her in 1929.

Rites of passage incandescently brought to light. (Picture book/poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9977720-7-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Alazar Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019



Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020




“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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