The poetry and prose form more of an uneasy détente than an integrated whole, but the comical pictures and the wordplay in...

“Trilobites the Dust,” and so do the rest of a cast of extinct creatures in this sequel (prequel?) to Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs (2012).

In chronological order from the Paleozoic to the Cenozoic eras, dinosaurs, prehistoric reptiles, and early mammals offer memento mori in pithy verse. “Iguanodon, Alas Long Gone,” for example runs: “Iguano dawned, / Iguano dined, / Iguano done, / Iguano gone.” With similar brevity, “Plesiosaur Sticks His Neck Out” of Loch Ness and has it chopped through by a Pict (a footnote admits the anachronism), and unknown agents leave “Pterrible Pterosaur Pterminated.” In later times, a saber-toothed cat (“Tiger, tiger, hunting bright / near the tar pits, late at night”), a dire wolf, and a woolly mammoth are all depicted trapped in the gooey muck. Each poem comes with an explanatory note, and a prose afterword titled “A Little About Layers” discusses how the fossil record works. Timmins reflects this secondary informational agenda in his illustrations without taking it too seriously—providing a spade-bearded, popeyed paleontologist who resembles a spud in shape and color to usher readers through galleries of fossil remnants or fleshed-out specimens meeting their ends with shocked expressions.

The poetry and prose form more of an uneasy détente than an integrated whole, but the comical pictures and the wordplay in these dino demises provide sufficient lift. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-706-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017


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

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. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020



Pretty but insubstantial.

Fifty dinosaurs and kindred contemporaries display their hues in this large-format portrait gallery.

A greater mismatch between the pictures and the accompanying descriptive comments would be hard to imagine. Arranged in no discernable order one or two per spread, Sewell’s dinosaurs float benignly in static poses against white backgrounds. Figures mostly look flat and are roughly the same size, so there are no cues to relative scale. Rather than opening to display jagged dentifrices, mouths are usually closed, often set in small smiles, and the artist indicates details of scales, skin, and other features with just a perfunctory line or color change. Said colors sometimes make vivid contrasts—Velociraptor sports a downright garish mix of blood red and turquoise—but are for the most part pretty blends of hues. In contrast to the art’s weightless harmony, the narrative goes for the gusto: Ceratosaurus “was easily distinguishable by two devil horns, a fearsome nasal spike, a ridge of spikes down its back, and a set of huge gnashers designed for ripping apart the flesh of anything it came across.” Quetzalcoatlus “must have been a worrying sight, the size of a fighter jet wheeling round the sky.” References to “slow-footed” T. rex and “cunning” Utahraptor as well as a claim that Troodons “weren’t exactly rocket scientists” indicate a loose grasp of the difference between fact and speculation to boot.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61689-716-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

Close Quickview