THE WORLD’S GREATEST

POEMS

This is not, as a quick glance at the title might suggest, an attempt to anthologize the best poems ever written, thank goodness. It is, instead, a goofy celebration of (mostly) equally zany world records. Thus, readers will enjoy “The Most Plates Spinning,” which typographically sets the ascending count of spinning plates off from those intermediate discs that threaten to fall; “The Tallest Christmas Tree,” which presents them with a star-topped shaped poem; and “The Longest Traffic Jam,” which consists of a string of single-word lines arranged in rhyming couplets. Graves’s bright illustrations provide agreeably silly accompaniment, at their best juxtaposing two separate poems into one double-page whole: A giant curve of a wave (“The Longest Time a Message Was in a Bottle at Sea”) threatens to overwhelm a roller coaster so high its apex peaks above the page (“The Tallest Roller Coaster”). Not all the spreads equal this level of cleverness, and it’s overall a pretty slim premise, but it’s not a bad way for kids to spend an afternoon—and it might send them to Guinness to think up their own. (Poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8118-5130-5

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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VISITING LANGSTON

A little girl is going with her daddy to visit the home of Langston Hughes. She too is a poet who writes about the loves of her life—her mommy and daddy, hip-hop, hopscotch, and double-dutch, but decidedly not kissing games. Langston is her inspiration because his poems make her “dreams run wild.” In simple, joyful verse Perdomo tells of this “Harlem girl” from “Harlem world” whose loving, supportive father tells her she is “Langston’s genius child.” The author’s own admiration for Hughes’s artistry and accomplishments is clearly felt in the voice of this glorious child. Langston’s spirit is a gentle presence throughout the description of his East 127th Street home and his method of composing his poetry sitting by the window. The presentation is stunning. Each section of the poem is part of a two-page spread. Text, in yellow, white, or black, is placed either within the illustrations or in large blocks of color along side them. The last page of text is a compilation of titles of Hughes’s poems printed in shades of gray in a myriad of fonts. Collier’s (Martin’s Big Words, 2001, etc.) brilliantly complex watercolor-and-collage illustrations provide the perfect visual complement to the work. From the glowing vitality of the little girl, to the vivid scenes of jazz-age Harlem, to the compelling portrait of Langston at work, to the reverential peak into Langston’s home, the viewer’s eye is constantly drawn to intriguing bits and pieces while never losing the sense of the whole. In this year of Langston Hughes’s centennial, this work does him great honor. (Poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6744-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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DINOSAURS GALORE!

A dozen familiar dinosaurs introduce themselves in verse in this uninspired, if colorful, new animal gallery from the authors of Commotion in the Ocean (2000). Smiling, usually toothily, and sporting an array of diamonds, lightning bolts, spikes and tiger stripes, the garishly colored dinosaurs make an eye-catching show, but their comments seldom measure up to their appearance: “I’m a swimming reptile, / I dive down in the sea. / And when I spot a yummy squid, / I eat it up with glee!” (“Ichthyosaurus”) Next to the likes of Kevin Crotty’s Dinosongs (2000), illustrated by Kurt Vargo, or Jack Prelutsky’s classic Tyrannosaurus Was A Beast (1988), illustrated by Arnold Lobel, there’s not much here to roar about. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58925-044-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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