Safe, mostly conservative choices in an expansive gathering, with dazzling visuals.



Some 200-plus short poems about U.S. places, people, and events are superimposed on big, bright landscape and other photographs.

Notwithstanding Lewis’ grandiose claim that these “chiseled words and fabulous photos” present “the underside, backside, inside, and other side of America,” the general tone is blandly celebratory, with only occasional, mild dissension. Robert Frost’s paternalistic “The Gift Outright” (“The land was ours before we were the land’s”) is paired, for instance with Carole Boston Weatherford’s protest litany “Power to the People” (“You Are On Stolen Land”); and Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” appears, rather obviously, side by side with Langston Hughes’ “I, too, sing America.” The poetry largely steers clear of abstractions, violent imagery, or even, aside from a strongly rhythmic final chant by Leigh Lewis, declamatory slam or hip-hop language. Topics range from natural wonders to local festivals, regional food, salutes to celebrities including John Wayne and Willie Nelson, elegies for Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin, sports, religious observances, and statements of ethnic or national identity. Nods to the diversity of American voices include frequent entries by immigrant and minority writers as well as poems in Spanish, Arabic, and Korean with accompanying translations into English by, usually, the poets themselves. The photos, gorgeous as they are, largely serve a decorative function as only a handful bear identifying captions.

Safe, mostly conservative choices in an expansive gathering, with dazzling visuals. (bibliography, indexes) (Poetry. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3185-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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From snapping shrimp with bubble-shooting claws to the Osedax worm that digests whalebones on the ocean floor, intriguing and unusual sea creatures are introduced in this collection of 18 engaging poems written in a variety of forms. A paragraph or two of identification and explanation follow each poem. This attractive small volume is illustrated with hand-colored linoleum block prints set on a blue-green background that darkens page by page as the reader descends. “Dive In!” introduces the habitat, and, on the last page, “Hooray for the Sea and the ROV” celebrates the ocean and the vehicles humans use to explore its deepest parts. One piece calls for two voices, a leopard sea cucumber and an emperor shrimp. Shape poems introduce the violet snail and a swarm of krill. These poems lend themselves to reading aloud, and many are short and catchy enough to be easily memorized. Concluding with a helpful glossary, a clear explanation of the poetic forms that points out rhymes, patterns and beats, suggested further resources and acknowledgements, this is an ideal title for cross-curricular connections. This gathering of humorous poetry and fascinating facts should be welcomed as a companion to Bulion and Evans’ previous collaboration, Hey There, Stink Bug! (2006)—even the surprise among the school of krill on the endpapers will make readers smile. (Informational poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56145-565-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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“He called on me. / My answer’s wrong. / Caught like a squirrel / on an open lawn. / Standing alone, / twiddling my paws, / frozen in place, / working my jaws. / I’d like to bolt, / but where? / I moan. / Could anyone / be more / alone?” Poet, educator and storyteller Holbrook returns with a collection of 41 poems about school worries and classroom problems. Here readers find substitutes and pop quizzes, bullies and homework storms. Nearly half of the poems have appeared in previous collections, but here the white space around each poem is filled with poetry facts, definitions and challenges to get young poets writing. Some entries are more successful than others; a few have odd rhymes, others a jangle in the rhythm. The title, too, is quite misleading: There is only one zombie poem. However, the subjects will resonate, and the hints and tips will excite young writers whether they currently love poetry or not. Sandstrom’s serviceable pen, ink and faded watercolor spot illustrations are as hit-and-miss as the poems. This is good classroom poetry, though, if not verse for the ages. (Poetry. 9-11)



Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-820-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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