SHAPE ME A RHYME

NATURE’S FORMS IN POETRY

Indefatigable author Yolen and her photographer son make another foray in an extremely engaging series. These titles are beautifully designed, displaying eye-catching photography and inventive use of typography and placement. All of these poems rhyme except for one haiku, and while the photographs are all from the natural world, the shapes are sometimes presented in unorthodox ways. “Square” explains itself fully: “A shadow square / Upon a frond / Resides beside / A quiet pond. / Since nature rarely / Seeds a square, / We must make do / With what is there.” Each double-page spread holds the photographic image, the poem, a matte cut-out of the shape and a few words that are synonyms or close in meaning. A pale photograph of the crescent moon floats opposite the azure shape of itself: The words are “sickle . . . semicircle . . . lunate” and the poem ends, “Your shape, like the side / Of a copper cent, / Out of pocket but / Not yet spent.” Very enjoyable, and allows for much exploration. (Poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59078-450-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

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WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS?

Not only does Jenkins (Life on Earth, 2002, etc.) again display a genius for creating paper-collage wildlife portraits with astonishingly realistic skin, fur, and feathers, but here on alternate spreads he zooms in for equally lifelike close-ups of ears, eyes, noses, mouths, feet, and tails. Five examples of each organ thrusting in from beyond the pages’ edges for each “What do you do” question precede spreads in which the point of view pulls back to show the whole animal, with a short accompanying caption. Visual surprises abound: a field cricket’s ears are actually on its legs; a horned lizard can (and does, here) squirt blood from its eyes as a defense mechanism; in an ingenious use of page design, a five-lined skink’s breakable tail enters and leaves the center gutter at different points. Capped by a systematic appendix furnishing more, and often arresting, details—“A humpback whale can be 50 feet long and weigh a ton per foot”—this array of wide eyes and open mouths will definitely have viewers responding with wide eyes and open mouths of their own. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 24, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-25628-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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