THE FROGS WORE RED SUSPENDERS

The title sets the stage for this delightful pairing of Prelutsky’s (Awful Ogre’s Awful Day, 2001, etc.) amusing rhymes with Mathers’s (Dodo Gets Married, 2001, etc.) charming watercolor illustrations. Ranging from sweetly poignant to goofy nonsense, each of the 28 short poems about people and animals is devoted to a double-paged spread, providing ample space for the subtly whimsical pictures to add details to the rhymes and to enliven the meter with perfect piquancy and lilt. “Ten Brown Bears,” who gobble plates of pies and then march home, are shown with one bear green in the face. “There Was a Tiny Baker” is illustrated with minute pictures of a teeny man and his equally teeny dog, nearly lost in the great expanse of page. Many of the poems are attached to specific cities or locales from Texas to Winnemucca, e.g., “Peanut Peg and Peanut Pete” in Atlanta. The cleverness in both language and art is demonstrated in “Seven snails and seven snakes / swam around the five Great Lakes. / They took seven years to go / from Thunder Bay to Buffalo.” And the rhyme is illustrated as a swimming and diving meet. A brilliant match of talent that’s guaranteed to make a hit. (Poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-688-16719-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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ALL THE COLORS OF THE EARTH

This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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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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