Humor, math and poetry—who knew they were such a good combination? (Poetry/math. 8-12)

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EDGAR ALLAN POE'S PIE

MATH PUZZLERS IN CLASSIC POEMS

Going a step beyond his Arithme-Tickle (illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz, 2001), Lewis cleverly combines math and language arts with this collection of humorous poetry parodies that present readers with math word problems to solve.

Fourteen famous poets and some of their more prominent works are the basis for Lewis’ parodies, which are all in good fun and retain the structure, rhyme and rhythm of the originals. Each poem presents children with at least one math problem to solve, and many of them require several steps to get to the final answer. The level of difficulty varies as much as the poems themselves. Teachers will appreciate the wide array of mathematics required to solve the puzzles. In addition to the four basic operations, the challenges test knowledge of fractions, percentages, decimals, area, perimeter and money. But language arts teachers are not to be left out of the fun. While the original poems are, sadly, not included, backmatter does include a very short bio of each poet. From Lear, Whitman and Dickinson to Hughes, Nash and Silverstein, this is like a who’s who of famous poets. Slack’s digital illustrations match the whimsy and fun of the poems, the tongue-in-cheek humor in full gear. While the illustrations provide no clues as to how to solve the math, the answers are printed upside down on each spread.

Humor, math and poetry—who knew they were such a good combination? (Poetry/math. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-51338-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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