THE BOOK OF NOT ENTIRELY USEFUL ADVICE

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. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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AT THE SEA FLOOR CAFÉ

ODD OCEAN CRITTER POEMS

From snapping shrimp with bubble-shooting claws to the Osedax worm that digests whalebones on the ocean floor, intriguing and unusual sea creatures are introduced in this collection of 18 engaging poems written in a variety of forms. A paragraph or two of identification and explanation follow each poem. This attractive small volume is illustrated with hand-colored linoleum block prints set on a blue-green background that darkens page by page as the reader descends. “Dive In!” introduces the habitat, and, on the last page, “Hooray for the Sea and the ROV” celebrates the ocean and the vehicles humans use to explore its deepest parts. One piece calls for two voices, a leopard sea cucumber and an emperor shrimp. Shape poems introduce the violet snail and a swarm of krill. These poems lend themselves to reading aloud, and many are short and catchy enough to be easily memorized. Concluding with a helpful glossary, a clear explanation of the poetic forms that points out rhymes, patterns and beats, suggested further resources and acknowledgements, this is an ideal title for cross-curricular connections. This gathering of humorous poetry and fascinating facts should be welcomed as a companion to Bulion and Evans’ previous collaboration, Hey There, Stink Bug! (2006)—even the surprise among the school of krill on the endpapers will make readers smile. (Informational poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56145-565-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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ZOMBIES!

EVACUATE THE SCHOOL!

“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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