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Well-illustrated poetry which may be too challenging for some younger readers.

This latest addition to the Neighbors poetry series offers engaging poetry for young children.

Held and Kim (The Yard Critters Too, 2013, etc.) continue their partnership with a new set of 13 poems that combine wordplay and factual information about animals from aquatic biomes. The marine critters include a dolphin, a seal, a manatee, bivalves, a polar bear, a sea otter, a sea horse, a shark, and a whale; the freshwater animals include a beaver, a snapping turtle, a tiger salamander, and a minnow. As in the authors’ earlier volumes, each spread features at least one easy-to-interpret digital collage or illustrated image. The addition of higher-level cultural references—Uniqlo and Prius, for example—and a poem that doesn’t provide contextual clues to the meanings of challenging words (“Tiger Salamander”) suggest that the book may not be appropriate for very young readers. The authors continue to use a wide variety of ear-pleasing rhymes—including homophones (see/sea), weak rhymes (Uniqlo/also), alliteration (so placid/so pleasant), assonance (brine/time), and broken rhymes (jaws/awesome). However, some moments may stop some readers in their tracks. There are some personifications that don’t quite click (Heron and Tern are called “stern,” with no apparent rationale other than forcing the rhyme); and a passage about blue whales inexplicably switches to humpbacks. “Bivalves” begins with an obscure double entendre—“So common they’re part of our tongue / which is happy to order and taste them”—which requires readers to understand the word “tongue” to mean a language as well as an organ in the mouth used to speak. The illustrations, however, continue to delight with their combination of different art styles, and their surprising patterns, which invite second looks.

Well-illustrated poetry which may be too challenging for some younger readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0916754310

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Filsinger & Co.

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2015

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Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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