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A ROCKETFUL OF SPACE POEMS

The poems are, at best, lesser lights in the poetic firmament, but the pictures provide enough boost to get them off the...

Goofy cartoons featuring wildly baroque spacecraft and many-limbed aliens illustrate 26 poems, nearly all new and out of—or at least off—this world.

J. Patrick Lewis explains how long it would take to drive to the moon in “your average car”; Eric Finney firmly misdirects a Mars-bound UFO toward Venus; editor Foster himself writes from the Space Hotel that “Space-worms are delicious / And the chef says they are quite nutritious”; and Liz Brownlee introduces hapless alien tourist “Flurp Blurp”: “I broke 3 legs on Mars whilst skiing, / 3 more on Saturn’s rings sightseeing!” They and other poets tally otherworldly food, monsters, sports, and visitors. Lewis is the best-known of the 17 contributors, but regardless of their creators’ recognizability, the verses (most of which are rhymed) roll along merrily, and Paul cranks up the silliness with page-filling views of garishly colored planets, tentacle-waving, googly-eyed extraterrestrials, and spaceships sporting many extravagant pipes and rivets. A closing handful of short foolishness (including Julie Holder’s verse knock-knock joke, with “A human being what?” as its punch line) makes for a particularly enjoyable send-off.

The poems are, at best, lesser lights in the poetic firmament, but the pictures provide enough boost to get them off the ground. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84780-486-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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ZILOT & OTHER IMPORTANT RHYMES

A lackluster collection of verse enlivened by a few bright spots.

Poems on various topics by the actor/screenwriter and his kids.

In collaboration with his now-grown children—particularly daughter Erin, who adds gently humorous vignettes and spot art to each entry—Bob Odenkirk, best known for his roles in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, dishes up a poetic hodgepodge that is notably loose jointed in the meter and rhyme departments. The story also too often veers from child-friendly subjects (bedtime-delaying tactics, sympathy for a dog with the zoomies) to writerly whines (“The be-all and end-all of perfection in scribbling, / no matter and no mind to any critical quibbling”). Some of the less-than-compelling lines describe how a “plane ride is an irony / with a strange and wondrous duplicity.” A few gems are buried in the bunch, however, like the comforting words offered to a bedroom monster and a frightened invisible friend, not to mention an invitation from little Willy Whimble, who lives in a tuna can but has a heart as “big as can be. / Come inside, / stay for dinner. / I’ll roast us a pea!” They’re hard to find, though. Notwithstanding nods to Calef Brown, Shel Silverstein, and other gifted wordsmiths in the acknowledgments, the wordplay in general is as artificial as much of the writing: “I scratched, then I scrutched / and skrappled away, / scritching my itch with great / pan-a-ché…” Human figures are light-skinned throughout.

A lackluster collection of verse enlivened by a few bright spots. (Poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780316438506

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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