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

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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An emotional and powerful story with soaring poetry.

LAND OF THE CRANES

A fourth grader navigates the complicated world of immigration.

Betita Quintero loves the stories her father tells about the Aztlán (the titular land of cranes), how their people emigrated south but were fabled to return. Betita also loves to write. She considers words like “intonation,” “alchemy,” and “freedom” to be almost magic, using those and other words to create picture poems to paint her feelings, just like her fourth grade teacher, Ms. Martinez, taught her. But there are also words that are scary, like “cartel,” a word that holds the reason why her family had to emigrate from México to the United States. Even though Betita and her parents live in California, a “sanctuary state,” the seemingly constant raids and deportations are getting to be more frequent under the current (unnamed) administration. Thinking her family is safe because they have a “petition…to fly free,” Betita is devastated when her dad is taken away by ICE. Without their father, the lives of the Quinteros, already full of fear and uncertainty, are further derailed when they make the small mistake of missing a highway exit. Salazar’s verse novel presents contemporary issues such as “zero tolerance” policies, internalized racism, and mass deportations through Betita’s innocent and hopeful eyes, making the complex topics easy to understand through passionate, lyrical verses.

An emotional and powerful story with soaring poetry. (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-34380-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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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