SWIMMING UPSTREAM

MIDDLE SCHOOL POEMS

In simply worded verse, George (Little Dog and Duncan, not reviewed, etc.) writes of lockers and lunches, new friends and typical experiences, as she tracks a child’s first year of middle school. She invites readers stepping across that (or any) threshold to embrace change: “Where do I fit? / Nothing is clear. / Can already tell / this will be / a jigsaw year” becomes, in “Long Jump,” “I can do anything. / All I need / is a running start,” and by “Last Day of School,” “I am shining / from the inside out.” Aside from a superficial poem about “the boy who’s so tough / the one who scares us so much,” plus a few passing anxieties, there’s little sign of tears or fears here—just a growing sense of self-confidence, a promise of good things to come calculated, and apt, to buoy up young grammar school graduates. Illustrations not seen. (Poetry. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-15250-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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MARIANA AND THE MERCHILD

A FOLKTALE FROM CHILE

A resonant, evocative tale about a lonely woman and the child of the sea who becomes her dearest companion. Mariana, an old woman, lives by the sea that is a mother to her, providing her with food for the table, driftwood for her fire, and music for her soul. But she is lonely, for the village children mock her and run away. One day after a wild storm when the sea-wolves prowl, she finds a crab shell; within it is a tiny merchild, with pearly skin and hair “the color of the setting sun.” Mariana, at the advice of the Wise Woman, places the merbaby where her mother, the Sea Spirit, can see she is safe; every day the Sea Spirit comes to feed her daughter and to teach her. Mariana cares for her the rest of the time, even though she knows the merchild must eventually return to the sea. The village children come to play with the merchild, and warm to Mariana. When the merchild does finally rejoin her mother, she returns daily to Mariana with gifts and greetings. Conveyed in the emotionally rich telling are the rhythm of waves, filial devotion, the loving care of children, and the knowledge of beasts. The beautiful illustrations are full of the laps and curves of the ocean, the brilliant colors of sea and sky, and the gorgeous reds and dusky browns of fabric, interiors, skin tones, and shells. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8028-5204-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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COUNT ME A RHYME

ANIMAL POEMS BY THE NUMBERS

Mother-and-son team Yolen and Stemple follow up Color Me a Rhyme (2000) with this engaging counting book. Throughout, Yolen’s verse is matched with Stemple’s full-color photographs of animals. The pairings are organic: In “Eight Bighorn Sheep,” two, skinny vertical lines of text, side-by-side, mimic Stemple’s image of sheep ascending a rocky cliff. “Nine Swallows: A Haiku” is illustrated by nine little birds on a telephone line against a solid blue sky. The numbers one to ten are the focus, but the final poem, “Many,” pays homage to the infinite wonder of numbers and nature. Numerals, Roman numerals and related words (e.g., octave, ninth) accompany each poem. Readers will enjoy counting the creatures that appear on each spread. Many, no doubt, will memorize the enchanting verse. (Picture book. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2006

ISBN: 1-59078-345-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2006

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