PUMPKIN BUTTERFLY

POEMS FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF NATURE

A collection of 23 nature poems cycles through the seasons, emphasizing the play between the outward and the hidden realms. The vocabulary and imagery stretch the maturing apprehension of young readers: “Botanical Jazz,” about a sunflower, says, in part, “you’re breaking our eyedrums / trumpeting all that color and sun / blowing that blazing yellow jazz….” The use of contrasts—“heavy pumpkins and light butterflies”—vividly convey an observant look at what is often overlooked. Bright orange endpapers mirror pumpkin color, prefacing the title poem. Reynish’s decorative illustrations reflect a thoughtful and purposeful artistic hand. A fuzzy chick in an outstretched hand, cherries scattered across another page, a pile of decaying leaves, a wintry scene and a starry-night–filled room enhance the more accessible poems. While some poems are readily within readers’ grasp, others are more obscure, with a sophistication that exceeds the young-looking format. Guided reading will expand understanding and appreciation of these lovely, often challenging poems. (Picture book/poetry. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59078-620-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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THE CROSSOVER

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Newbery Medal Winner

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

ODDER

Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life.

A Monterey Bay sea otter comes of age.

Odder’s mom told her to stay away from sharks, humans, and anything else she didn’t understand, but after saving her friend Kairi from a shark attack, she encounters all three. Injured herself during the rescue, Odder ends up recuperating at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or Highwater as the otters call it, where she once lived as a young orphaned pup. Last time, the humans helped her reintegrate into the wild, but because of her injuries this time the outcome might be different. Soon Kairi is there too, stricken with “the shaking sickness” and having lost her newborn pup. Now Kairi is fostering a new pup, and soon one is introduced to an initially reluctant Odder in hopes that she will help raise it so it can return to the wild. The free verse effortlessly weaves in scientific information, giving Odder a voice without overly anthropomorphizing any of the animals. The natural appeal of sea otters will draw readers in, but the book doesn’t shy away from real-world threats such as predators, disease, and pollution. Loosely based on the stories of real sea otters rehabilitated at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this novel will give readers lots to talk about, but uneven pacing and a rushed ending may leave some unsatisfied. Charming black-and-white spot art captures the world and life of the sea.

Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life. (glossary, author’s note, bibliography, resources) (Verse novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-14742-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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