Some spry and inspired grave humor here, but weighed equally with some unimaginative efforts.




Cracked epitaphs from Lewis and Yolen.

This is a collection of 30 tombstone remembrances with an eye for the emphatically stamped exit visa. Ushered along by Timmins’ smoky, gothic artwork—and sometimes over-reliant upon it for effect—these last laughs take on a variety of moods. Sometimes they are gruesome, as with the newt, “so small, / so fine, / so squashed / beneath / the crossing / sign.” There are the macabre and the simply passing: “In his pond, / he peacefully soaked, / then, ever so quietly / croaked.” Goodbye frog—haplessly, hopelessly adrift in the olivy murk, a lily flower as witness and X's for eyes. When writers and artist are in balance, as they are here, or when the Canada goose gets cooked on the high-tension wires, the pages create a world unto themselves, beguiling and sad. It works with the decrepitude of the eel and the spookiness of the piranha’s undoing. But there are also times when the text end of the equation lets the side down. “Firefly’s Last Flight: Lights out.” Or the last of a wizened stag: “Win some. / Lose some. / Venison.” Or the swan’s last note: “A simple song. / It wasn’t long.” In these cases, brevity is not the soul of wit, but lost chances at poking a finger in the eye of the Reaper.

Some spry and inspired grave humor here, but weighed equally with some unimaginative efforts. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-260-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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“Little boy blue / come blow your tuba. / The sheep are in Venice, / and the cow’s in Aruba.” Pairing frenetic and garishly colored art to familiar rhymes in “more modern, more fresh, and well…more Goosian” versions, Seibold stakes out Stinky Cheese Man territory to introduce “Jack and Jill / and a pickle named Bill,” the Old Woman Who Lived in a Sneaker (“She had a great big stereo speaker”), Peter Pumpkin Pickle Pepper and about two dozen more “re-nurseried” figures. Against patterned or spray-painted backgrounds, an entire page of umbrella-carrying raindrops float down, a bunch of mice run up (“the clock struck one; / the rest had fun”), cats fiddle for Old King Coal and others, Jack B. Nimble makes a lifelong career out of demonstrating his one trick and a closing rendition of the counting rhyme “One, Two, I Lost My Shoe” is transformed into a clever reprise as many of the characters return to take final bows. Sparkles on the cover; chuckles (despite some lame rhyming) throughout. (Fractured nursery rhymes. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6882-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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This oversized volume won’t fit on a bookshelf; leave it open on a table to display the art.



From the Neighbors series

Poems celebrate 12 animals that might be found in American backyards.

This collection complements Held and Kim's The Yard Critters (2011), which similarly invites young readers to think about beings that share their world. From ladybugs to chipmunks, each double-page spread features a different creature, one that may be familiar from storybooks, if not from personal experience. In a few short stanzas, the poet describes both attributes and habits. Of the porcupine: “It’s a thrill / to see this / walking quill / cushion // strolling uphill / from the cellar / where he’s built / a den down under.” “So much / does Nature / love her, / Shrew // can birth / ten litters / per year— / whew!” There’s even a riddle: “Flying from Belize to bless our summer, / this ingenious gem is called the ———.” (The word “hummer” appears in a later poem, “Field Mouse.”) Not all the ideas are important or even accurate; this is not an informational book. Nor are these your usual children’s poems. The vocabulary is sophisticated. The rhymes and sound patterns are complex and vary unpredictably. With only 12 poems, this title may seem slight. What adds value are Kim’s intriguing collage illustrations, creating stylized but recognizable animal images set on generous white space with elements crossing the gutter to lead eyes to the text.

This oversized volume won’t fit on a bookshelf; leave it open on a table to display the art. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-916754-26-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Filsinger & Co.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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