For beginning readers on up, the points of attachment are many in this hefty volume of mostly light verse. (Poetry. 6-12)

EVERYTHING IS A POEM

THE BEST OF J. PATRICK LEWIS

An engaging collection of greatest hits by the former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate.

In the foreword to his latest collection, the award-winning author of 85 picture books and former economics professor admits he discovered poetry only after turning 40 and prides himself on not having a distinctive poetic style or voice. For Lewis, “the poem is always more important than the poet,” and the varied subjects of these 60-odd poems underscore the sincerity of his belief. Here, with Italian illustrator Pritelli’s arrestingly evocative airbrushed acrylic spreads, Lewis offers light glimpses into the realms of animals, places, people, nature and reading, as well as a delightful mix of riddles and epitaphs. Taking his cue from the likes of Carroll and Lear, Lewis thrills in nonsense, imploring readers, “Please bury me in the library / with a dozen long-stemmed proses,” or neatly summing up on a baseball-glove–shaped tombstone the truncated life of a pitcher: “No runs, / no hits, / no heirs.” In more serious moments, Lewis employs his masterful descriptive abilities to capture natural phenomena such as fireflies—“The speckled air / Of summer stars / Alive in jars”—while repeatedly making use of his exquisite ear.

For beginning readers on up, the points of attachment are many in this hefty volume of mostly light verse. (Poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-56846-240-0

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and...

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THE UNDEFEATED

Past and present are quilted together in this innovative overview of black Americans’ triumphs and challenges in the United States.

Alexander’s poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson’s detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations chronicling “the unforgettable,” “the undeniable,” “the unflappable,” and “the righteous marching ones,” alongside “the unspeakable” events that shape the history of black Americans. The illustrator layers images of black creators, martyrs, athletes, and neighbors onto blank white pages, patterns pages with the bodies of slaves stolen and traded, and extends a memorial to victims of police brutality like Sandra Bland and Michael Brown past the very edges of a double-page spread. Each movement of Alexander’s poem is a tribute to the ingenuity and resilience of black people in the U.S., with textual references to the writings of Gwendolyn Brooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, and Malcolm X dotting stanzas in explicit recognition and grateful admiration. The book ends with a glossary of the figures acknowledged in the book and an afterword by the author that imprints the refrain “Black. Lives. Matter” into the collective soul of readers, encouraging them, like the cranes present throughout the book, to “keep rising.”

An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78096-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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