Wide-ranging poems and whimsical illustrations combine to yield uneven degrees of comedic success.

READ REVIEW

I AM A POETATO

AN A-Z OF POEMS ABOUT PEOPLE, PETS, AND OTHER CREATURES

British poet Hegley here assembles 45 poems offering light, sometimes wildly offbeat perspectives on a variety of topics.

Loosely following the alphabet—“A Mosquito” is included under “A”; likewise, “Invisible Hamster” helps represent “I”—Hegley presents young readers with some odd thoughts as well as both common and not-so-common members of the animal kingdom. Though mostly presented in free verse, the occasional rhyme helps sets the playful tone: “To an alligator, you look yum. / You are yum to the tum of an alligator. / Though you think and you can feel, / To an alligator, you are a meal deal.” In many instances, Hegley’s often scribbly, black-and-white illustrations (Rawlinson has provided the letters) reinforce his quirky sense of humor, such as in “Micycle,” which features a sketch of a bike with a mouse for a seat offering its ears as handle bars, or “Xylofox,” a most unusual creature that “eats its words off armour plates” and whose rough, foxy frame consists mostly of a xylophone and fluffy tail. While many of Hegley’s ditties are accessible enough for children to find amusing, a handful sport a thematic level of sophistication better appreciated by adults. Along with some advanced vocabulary, young American readers may be stymied by various Briticisms never encountered before—even when presented by characters as familiar as the lice-checking school nurse, “Nitty Nora—The Bug Explorer!”

Wide-ranging poems and whimsical illustrations combine to yield uneven degrees of comedic success. (Poetry. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-84780-397-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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ZOMBIES!

EVACUATE THE SCHOOL!

“He called on me. / My answer’s wrong. / Caught like a squirrel / on an open lawn. / Standing alone, / twiddling my paws, / frozen in place, / working my jaws. / I’d like to bolt, / but where? / I moan. / Could anyone / be more / alone?” Poet, educator and storyteller Holbrook returns with a collection of 41 poems about school worries and classroom problems. Here readers find substitutes and pop quizzes, bullies and homework storms. Nearly half of the poems have appeared in previous collections, but here the white space around each poem is filled with poetry facts, definitions and challenges to get young poets writing. Some entries are more successful than others; a few have odd rhymes, others a jangle in the rhythm. The title, too, is quite misleading: There is only one zombie poem. However, the subjects will resonate, and the hints and tips will excite young writers whether they currently love poetry or not. Sandstrom’s serviceable pen, ink and faded watercolor spot illustrations are as hit-and-miss as the poems. This is good classroom poetry, though, if not verse for the ages. (Poetry. 9-11)

 

 

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-820-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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It may take readers a few rounds to fully appreciate and understand the loose, unassumingly sophisticated narrative that...

OVERHEARD IN A TOWER BLOCK

POEMS

This slim volume of more than four dozen poems of varying lengths charts the narrator’s course from childhood in low-income urban housing to adolescence to young adulthood and fatherhood.

The unnamed narrator personifies the unforgiving public-housing tower block as a “zombie” hungry for human lives and memories. He dodges a bully in “Smashing Snails in the Rain” and overhears an “Argument”: “The monster / With a roar made up of shouts,” whose “jaws snap / Like slamming doors” and whose “claws clatter / Like kitchen drawers.” His father gives him the perfect pair of red sneakers in “Trainers.” These shoes return many times across the collection, acting as a possible symbol of the boy’s hero worship of his often absent father. As the boy enters his teens, he goes from confident to awkward to embracing the changes his body experiences in “Man…I Had It Made.” In later poems, he has his first kiss, gets exam results, and leaves home for the first time. He becomes a father, “whose heart thumps solely for his / daughter.” Poetic forms vary, with some rhyming and others not. Readers may have difficulty understanding the trilogy of sophisticated poems based on the myth of Prometheus. Race is not mentioned, and the flat, unemotional black-and-white sketches provide few clues.

It may take readers a few rounds to fully appreciate and understand the loose, unassumingly sophisticated narrative that joins the poems. (Poetry. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-91095-958-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Otter-Barry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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