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THE LITTLE BUGGERS

INSECT AND SPIDER POEMS

Aimed at a younger audience than its wittier, more sophisticated cousin, Paul Fleischman’s Joyful Noise (1989), this collection of poems celebrates bugs. Lewis (The La-Di-Da Hare, 1997, etc.) has keen antennae for wordplay, seeking ways to exploit types of insects by making their attributes humorous. One poem features a praying mantis who kissed her mate on the first date, “then ate the pesky fellow.” Another zooms in on the vexing reputation of the housefly. Relationships to humans, referred to as “Them” in a silly poem about silverfish, fall under scrutiny; a plug for reading sneaks past in a poem about book mites; a cockroach announces that it was born “outside a place called Blueberry Muffin Mix.” Other snappy subjects include a streetlight where all the buggy locals hang out, and the myriad names for butterflies. While couple of poems feel forced—“The Doodlebug Song” strains for comedy while “The Ladybug” labors under its staccato rhythm—most are as short and rapid as insect chatter, as in the quip between “The Stinkbug and the Cricket.” Chess’s insect personifications are suitably wacky, exaggerating the insects’ large mouths and eyes and tiny feet. The title of each poem twists across the page, adding extra zip to the critters we so often zap. (Poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8037-1769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Jitters series

None

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

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Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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I WISH YOU MORE

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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