A tender, lively, and mostly thoughtful tour through summer on the frozen continent.

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WHEN THE SUN SHINES ON ANTARCTICA

AND OTHER POEMS ABOUT THE FROZEN CONTINENT

For six months straight, the sun shines in Antarctica, and the ice and oceans are alive with activity.

Latham’s collection of poems introduces young readers to the rituals and transitions experienced by Antarctica’s diverse flora and fauna during its extended, though freezing, summer season. The return of the sun brings with it migratory birds and whales, the shedding of winter coats, and the birth and growth of the next generation. Each spread uses a poem and soft illustration to present a scene of Antarctic summer, which a small text box of factual information explains in more detail. Readers become acquainted with a variety of life both above and below the water, including multiple species of penguins and seals. The gentle illustrations excel at balancing both the frigid iciness and the blossoming hope of spring. Though playfulness abounds, this is not a romanticized portrait of life in the polar south—to survive, alphas must battle for mates, and predators must catch prey. The one misstep is the lack of direct representation of climate change in the poems and illustrations. Considering how dramatic the effects of climate change are on both the landscape and the life of the region, its mere two mentions in text boxes feel insufficient.

A tender, lively, and mostly thoughtful tour through summer on the frozen continent. (glossary, further reading) (Informational picture book/poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-5216-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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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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A poor performance, “[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE

Like the old man’s hose, Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” speech is “a world too wide” to be well-served by this paltry selection of 21 poems, three per “age.”

Hopkins tries to inject some color into the mix with Walt Whitman’s “When I heard the learn’d astronomer,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee?” and Lewis Carroll’s “You are old, father William.” Unfortunately, these, combined with passages from the speech itself, only make his other choices look anemic. To the “infant, / Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms,” for instance, Rebecca Kai Dotlich offers a bland “Amazing, your face. / Amazing”; on the facing page, a “traditional Nigerian lullaby” is stripped of music: “Sleep my baby near to me. / Lu lu lu lu lu lu.” Along with Joan Bransfield Graham’s “A Soldier’s Letter to a Newborn Daughter,” which ends with a condescending “I’m coming home / to my girls… / With All My Love, / DAD,” most of the rest are cast in prosaic free verse. Hopkins’ “Curtain,” probably written for this collection, closes the set with theatrical imagery. Billout supplies pale, distant views of small figures and some surreal elements in largely empty settings—appropriate, considering the poetry, but they lack either appeal for young audiences or any evocation of the Shakespearean lines’ vigorous language and snarky tone.

A poor performance, “[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56846-218-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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