Gleefully distinctive stylings, fluorescent colors, and beautiful bookmaking should make an eager new audience for these old...

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BEASTLY VERSE

Using just three impossibly bright colors, printmaker Yoon illustrates a collection of animal-themed poems of varying familiarity.

There’s a nostalgic feel to the collection, as many poems date from the 19th century—William Blake’s “The Tiger,” Christina Rossetti’s “Caterpillar,” and Lewis Carroll’s “The Crocodile” among them—and none dates later than the mid-20th century. For all that they may be old, however, the poems have a real child friendliness, from the light verse of Ogden Nash (“The Eel”) and Hilaire Belloc (“The Yak”) to the weightier stanzas of D.H. Lawrence (“Humming-bird”) and Walter de la Mare (“Dream Song”). If the poetry delights, the prints dazzle. Layering cyan, magenta, and yellow—and eschewing black—Yoon produces crowded, eye-popping images that will draw children’s attention. There’s a studied, childlike crudeness to her stylings, full of scribbly lines and overlap, that yields great energy. Carolyn Wells’ “Happy Hyena,” its bright pink head wildly out of proportion to its body, wears a green jacket and a yellow waistcoat, playing the concertina as it walks through town. The book’s design offers further surprises. A pink telephone jangles imperiously in a seemingly empty room in Laura Richards’ “Eletelephony,” but a gatefold opens to show an enormous teal-and-purple elephant hopelessly entangled in the telephone’s cord.

Gleefully distinctive stylings, fluorescent colors, and beautiful bookmaking should make an eager new audience for these old poems. (Picture book/poetry. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59270-166-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it...

FEAR THE BUNNY

A tiger can’t believe it’s being upstaged in this picture-book riff on William Blake’s famous poem.

A group of zoologically diverse animals huddle around a fire, listening to a porcupine read from a chilling poem: “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, / in the forests of the night—.” An incredulous tiger interrupts, saying that the poem is actually about it. But a squirrel matter-of-factly states that “Here, it’s ‘bunnies, bunnies.’ ” The tiger still doesn’t understand why the animals would be so afraid of bunnies but not afraid of tigers and tries to explain why it, an apex predator, is far more threatening. The smaller animals remain unimpressed, calmly telling the tiger that “In this forest, we fear the bunny” and that it should “Hide now, before it’s too late.” An amusing and well-done premise slightly disappoints at the climax, with the tiger streaking away in terror before a horde of headlamp-wearing bunnies, but eager readers never learn what, exactly, the bunnies would do if they caught up. But at the end, a group of tigers joins the other animals in their awestruck reading of the adapted Blake poem, included in full at the end. Cute, fuzzy illustrations contrast nicely with the dark tone and forest background.

A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it overcomes a weak conclusion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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