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A good bit of fun.

Who wouldn’t welcome a smattering of advice now and then? Even if some of its practicality seems questionable.

This collection is divided into four sections “mainly relating” to broad topics such as food or animals. Explored largely in free verse are topics ranging from the many similarities between blackbirds and bananas, how many is too many tigers at a picnic, and the value of an onion for self-defense. Of course, there is a healthy mix of wordplay, absurdism, and the occasional actually profound thought. Harrold includes some interactive features, such as blank spaces for readers to contribute their own poems or drawings and the Advice-a-Tron 216, a chart that generates pieces of advice with a six-sided die. In addition to some pages of “free-floating advice” readers are encouraged to cut out, there is an index that locates both references within the book and sundry other things, like “where to find more” books (“the library”). This collection contains a fair amount of Briticisms (a poem called “Jumper” closes cheekily with a joke about “a sweater”) that may require some help for readers new to them. As observed in the initial “Note for the Reader,” Grey’s illustrations are “beautifully colorful,” with a fancy-free, sketchlike quality characterized by dynamic lines and perspectives. The author, a White, bearded man, appears in a drawn incarnation throughout; of background human characters, only a couple read as people of color.

A good bit of fun. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0677-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Readers can count on plenty of chuckles along with a mild challenge or two.

Rollicking verses on “numerous” topics.

Returning to the theme of her Mathematickles! (2003), illustrated by Steven Salerno, Franco gathers mostly new ruminations with references to numbers or arithmetical operations. “Do numerals get out of sorts? / Do fractions get along? / Do equal signs complain and gripe / when kids get problems wrong?” Along with universal complaints, such as why 16 dirty socks go into a washing machine but only 12 clean ones come out or why there are “three months of summer / but nine months of school!" (“It must have been grown-ups / who made up / that rule!”), the poet offers a series of numerical palindromes, a phone number guessing game, a two-voice poem for performative sorts, and, to round off the set, a cozy catalog of countable routines: “It’s knowing when night falls / and darkens my bedroom, / my pup sleeps just two feet from me. / That watching the stars flicker / in the velvety sky / is my glimpse of infinity!” Tey takes each entry and runs with it, adding comically surreal scenes of appropriately frantic or settled mood, generally featuring a diverse group of children joined by grotesques that look like refugees from Hieronymous Bosch paintings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Readers can count on plenty of chuckles along with a mild challenge or two. (Poetry/mathematical picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0116-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Fresh off his engaging Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys (illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, 2010) and inspired by the work of Andrew Russ, Raczka continues to dabble in short lyric forms, here experimenting with images conjured up by breaking down a single word. The smaller components that comprise the subsequent free-verse poem read left to right, cascading down the page while maintaining the same horizontal letter positions as in the original word. For example, “vacation” yields “ac tion /     i n /   a / va     n,” alongside Doniger’s spare three-color drawing of a family and a rabbit traveling through the countryside in a van with a canoe on the roof. For readers who find the spatiality of the lettering a challenge for comprehension, Raczka sets the poem in more standard format, “vacation / action / in / a / van,” on the following page. While these 22 poems are uniformly clever, some, like “earthworms”—“a / short / storm / worms / here / worms / there / wear / shoes”—are more successful than others, such as “flowers”—“we slow / for / free / wows”—both in their playfulness and in evoking the suggestive depths of language. Fun as a prompt for poetic exploration but less fulfilling as a stand-alone volume. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59643-541-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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