BRONZEVILLE BOYS AND GIRLS

Brooks’s gloriously universal celebration of African-American childhood here receives a respectful and joyous treatment from one of the pre-eminent illustrators of the same. Readers coming to “Narcissa,” “Beulah at Church” and “Marie Lucille” for the first time will discover them accompanied by Ringgold’s trademark folk-art interpretations, the expressive brown figures depicted for the most part as vignettes against bright backgrounds. They show a Bronzeville that bustles with activity, single-family homes sharing the streets with apartment buildings and the occasional vacant lot. The children run, braids and arms out straight, and contemplate in turns, their exuberance tempered by the solemnity of childhood. While it’s regrettable that occasionally the specificity of the illustration robs a verse of its universality—the “special place” referenced in “Keziah” is shown to be underneath the kitchen table, for instance—the overall ebullience of the images more than compensates. There is a drop of truth in every single playful, piercing stanza, and anything that brings these poems to a new audience is to be cheered; a lovely package indeed. (Picture book/poetry. 7+)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-029505-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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DINOSAURS GALORE!

A dozen familiar dinosaurs introduce themselves in verse in this uninspired, if colorful, new animal gallery from the authors of Commotion in the Ocean (2000). Smiling, usually toothily, and sporting an array of diamonds, lightning bolts, spikes and tiger stripes, the garishly colored dinosaurs make an eye-catching show, but their comments seldom measure up to their appearance: “I’m a swimming reptile, / I dive down in the sea. / And when I spot a yummy squid, / I eat it up with glee!” (“Ichthyosaurus”) Next to the likes of Kevin Crotty’s Dinosongs (2000), illustrated by Kurt Vargo, or Jack Prelutsky’s classic Tyrannosaurus Was A Beast (1988), illustrated by Arnold Lobel, there’s not much here to roar about. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58925-044-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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An edge-of-your-seat read.

THE CANYON'S EDGE

A girl’s birthdays mark parallel tragedies for her broken family unit.

Last year’s celebration at a restaurant ended in an unexplained public shooting, and Nora’s mother died. She and her father are still wrestling with their trauma, Nora with a confirmed diagnosis of PTSD. For this year’s outing, Nora and her father head into the deserts of the Southwest on a rock-climbing expedition. They descend into a 40-foot deep slot canyon, then hike along inside until a flash flood barrels through the canyon, washing away all their supplies…and Nora’s father. She’s left to survive this symbolic and living nightmare on her own. Thankfully, she can make continuous use of her parents’ thorough training in desert knowledge. Brief sections of prose bracket the meat of the story, which is in verse, a choice highly effective in setting tone and emotional resonance for the heightened situation. Bowling’s poems run a gamut of forms, transforming the literal shape of the text just as the canyon walls surrounding Nora shape her trek. The voice of Nora’s therapist breaks through occasionally, providing a counterpoint perspective. Nora is White while two characters seen in memories have brown skin. The narrative also names local Native peoples. Elements of the survival story and psychological thriller combine with strong symbolism to weave a winding, focused, stunning narrative ultimately about the search for healing.

An edge-of-your-seat read. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49469-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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