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NEIGHBORS by George Held Kirkus Star


The Yard Critters Book 1

From the Neighbors series

by George Held illustrated by Joung Un Kim

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0916754259
Publisher: Filsinger & Co.

Not your standard children’s poetry book, this illustrated collection offers sounds and scenes to savor for ages 3 and up.

Held (After Shakespeare: Selected Sonnets, 2011, etc.) and Kim (Hen Hears Gossip, 2010, etc.) team up for the first in a series that portrays the wild animals that a child might see close to home. The 13 poems each feature an animal typically found near urban, suburban or rural settings—squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, bats, earthworms—and at least one digital collage or drawn image of the critter. The work invites discussion and reflection that can broaden the experience for children and avoid boredom for parents rereading for the umpteenth time. In language choices, Held offers material not usually considered the territory of youngsters—portmanteau words (“racku for a raccoon haiku), near puns (“squirreling dervishes”), upper-level vocabulary (demise, omnivore) and literary references (Brer Rabbit’s race with Brer Terrapin). Although he has shortened lines from his adult verse, Held refuses to be held to simple rhymes for kiddies, providing readers and listeners with an assortment of sounds and sound patterns, including eye rhyme, alliteration and homophones. The ideas of the poems also engage; Held presents the metaphor of a deer as a weed, “diminished to a pest” by its proximity to lawns and yards, but not all of the content is this insightful or engaging. Kim keeps up: beyond the single, easily recognized animal, the supersized images invite readers to explore. Such exploration may lead to discoveries of partially hidden animals, interesting combinations of drawing and collage, or surprising choices of collage materials.

Charming critters in collage and poetry for people of all ages.