ISN'T MY NAME MAGICAL?

SISTER AND BROTHER POEMS

Leaving behind much of the lyricism found in his previous collections, Berry (First Palm Trees, 1997, etc.) pens poems in the voices of a sister, Dreena (who has the magical name), and brother, Delroy, on their experiences in the family with a dour sister, mother (“A teacher, Mom has lots of pens/and home and school jobs”), and father, who “drives a train,/sometimes in a heavy jacket.” This father is not really poem-material: “And, sometimes, Dad brings us gifts./Sometimes, he plays our piano.” The brother, Delroy, who tenders three autobiographical poems, can’t sit still and can’t stop talking about it. There is a good declarative poem, about a strong friendship he shares with another boy. Otherwise, he is dancing like a madman (“doing body-break and body-pop”) or skateboarding under the influence of a fevered imagination (“I want one owl on each my shoulder/hooting out as I leap each river”). In her first book, Hehenberger takes a literal route, anchoring every poem in domestic scenes of family and friends; the deep colors and finely sculpted forms become set pieces for Berry’s earthbound images. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-80013-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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THE BUG IN TEACHER'S COFFEE

AND OTHER SCHOOL POEMS

PLB 0-06-027940-0 Dakos’s collection of 23 poems from the perspective of items found at school satisfies the I Can Read requirements of simplicity and word repetition, but may not lure beginning readers back for a second time. The material is uninspiring: The school’s front door says, “Keep me shut,/I have the flu,/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Keep me shut,/I have the flu.” A book sings “Happy Birthday” to a ruler, then sings “Happy Unbirthday” when the ruler says that it is not its birthday. Also appearing are a couple of clever items—one on a kidnapped pencil and another on a comb pulling hazardous duty—along with some typographic elements that amiably convey the idea that words are malleable; Reed’s illustrations possess geniality and character, making some inanimate objects very personable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-027939-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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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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