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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POCKET POEMS

With an eye toward easy memorization, Katz gathers over 50 short poems from the likes of Emily Dickinson, Valerie Worth, Jack Prelutsky, and Lewis Carroll, to such anonymous gems as “The Burp”—“Pardon me for being rude. / It was not me, it was my food. / It got so lonely down below, / it just popped up to say hello.” Katz includes five of her own verses, and promotes an evident newcomer, Emily George, with four entries. Hafner surrounds every selection with fine-lined cartoons, mostly of animals and children engaged in play, reading, or other familiar activities. Amid the ranks of similar collections, this shiny-faced newcomer may not stand out—but neither will it drift to the bottom of the class. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-525-47172-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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