POETRY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

Presented in picture book format, this unfocused collection of poems and extracts from this 19th-century poet gathers up a few chestnuts, but also (unintentionally and unjustly) suggests ample reason to avoid the rest of his oeuvre. Preceded by a dense introduction, the more accessible selections—“The Arrow and the Song,” the ever-charming “Children’s Hour,” and the wonderfully lurid “Wreck of The Hesperus”—are scattered gems among such deadening material as “Woods In Winter” (“with solemn feet I tread the hill,/That overbrows the lonely vale”), “A Psalm Of Life,” and “Hymn To The Night” (“Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!”). In addition, “Evangeline” is represented by a mere six lines, and even “Paul Revere’s Ride” is incomplete. Painting in a realistic style, Wallace shows more facility depicting landscapes than people. Even though Longfellow’s famous poems are readily available elsewhere, few readers—after plowing through this uninspired handful—will feel an urge to read more. (Poetry. 9-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8069-9417-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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

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THE CROSSOVER

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. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Don’t let anyone miss this.

LOCOMOTION

Count on award-winning Woodson (Visiting Day, p. 1403, etc.) to present readers with a moving, lyrical, and completely convincing novel in verse.

Eleven-year-old Lonnie (“Locomotion”) starts his poem book for school by getting it all down fast: “This whole book’s a poem ’cause every time I try to / tell the whole story my mind goes Be quiet! / Only it’s not my mind’s voice, / it’s Miss Edna’s over and over and over / Be quiet! . . . So this whole book’s a poem because poetry’s short and / this whole book’s a poem ’cause Ms. Marcus says / write it down before it leaves your brain.” Lonnie tells readers more, little by little, about his foster mother Miss Edna, his teacher Ms. Marcus, his classmates, and the fire that killed his parents and separated him from his sister. Slowly, his gift for observing people and writing it down lets him start to love new people again, and to widen his world from the nugget of tragedy that it was. Woodson nails Lonnie’s voice from the start, and lets him express himself through images and thoughts that vibrate in the different kinds of lines he puts down. He tends to free verse, but is sometimes assigned a certain form by Ms. Marcus. (“Today’s a bad day / Is that haiku? Do I look / like I even care?”) As in her prose novels, Woodson’s created a character whose presence you can feel like they were sitting next to you. And with this first novel-in-verse for her, Lonnie will sit by many readers and teach them to see like he does, “This day is already putting all kinds of words / in your head / and breaking them up into lines / and making the lines into pictures in your mind.”

Don’t let anyone miss this. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-23115-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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