Macabre, sometimes downright mean, this mischievous collection is sure to engage the devilish side of readers of all ages.



A playful primer on insincerity for budding poets.

Taking as a springboard William Carlos Williams’ famous pseudo-apology, “I have eaten / the plums / that were in / the icebox […] Forgive me …,” Newbery Honor–winner Levine and illustrator Cordell unleash their darker sides in offering children several imaginative occasions for issuing false apologies. One glance at the volume’s contents listing poems all taking Williams’ title “This Is Just to Say,” and readers instantly clue into Levine’s glib project, which she then explains and invites others to imitate some 20 pages into the volume—much, she admits, to her editor’s chagrin. While many a poet has spoofed Williams in similar fashion and chosen this found poem’s simple form to introduce children to imagistic self-expression (Kenneth Koch most memorably), what distinguishes Levine’s project is her clever use of the form to debunk famous children’s icons like Snow White, Humpty Dumpty and the Little Engine that Could to literalize common expressions familiar to young readers. Cordell’s signature spare line drawings prove particularly effective in conveying the latter, as in “While you were buying / doll dresses / I sanded off / your Barbie’s face […] Forgive me / her beauty / was only / skin deep,” while a girl comes screaming across the page spread as a delighted boy kneels intently over the scribbled-out, faceless doll.

Macabre, sometimes downright mean, this mischievous collection is sure to engage the devilish side of readers of all ages. (Illustrated poems. 6 & up)

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-178725-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy.


Through the author’s own childhood diary entries, a seventh grader details her inner life before and after 9/11.

Alyssa’s diary entries start in September 2000, in the first week of her seventh grade year. She’s 11 and dealing with typical preteen concerns—popularity and anxiety about grades—along with other things more particular to her own life. She’s shuffling between Queens and Manhattan to share time between her divorced parents and struggling with thick facial hair and classmates who make her feel like she’s “not a whole person” due to her mixed White and Puerto Rican heritage. Alyssa is endlessly earnest and awkward as she works up the courage to talk to her crush, Alejandro; gushes about her dreams of becoming a shoe designer; and tries to solve her burgeoning unibrow problem. The diaries also have a darker side, as a sense of impending doom builds as the entries approach 9/11, especially because Alyssa’s father works in finance in the World Trade Center. As a number of the diary entries are taken directly from the author’s originals, they effortlessly capture the loud, confusing feelings middle school brings out. The artwork, in its muted but effective periwinkle tones, lends a satisfying layer to the diary’s accessible and delightful format.

An authentic and moving time capsule of middle school angst, trauma, and joy. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77427-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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