CROWNING GLORY

A celebration of hair, the hair of beautiful African-American girls, is the focus of this collection of gentle, joyful poems. The hairstyles emerge: braids, curls, dreadlocks, natural, sometimes wrapped with twine for strength or covered in colorful scarves, or adorned with ribbons, combs, bows, and all the other accouterments. Even wigs and glorious hats are part of the fun. Each poem is also a tiny moment in time conveyed in simple, conversational language. Told in the voice of a curious, observant child, these poems are as much about the love among all the women of her family, as they tenderly share secrets and wisdom, as it is about hairstyles. She remembers her mother humming as she plaits her hair, using the curling iron to turn “straight into wavy,” watching her great grandma weave black twine through her hair, and teasing her cousin about her dreadlocks. She describes her mama’s “natural” hairstyle as “a continent” and “her glory on earth.” When she asks for a definition of “good hair,” she is lovingly told, “Why it’s understood, Sister, if it’s on your head it’s good!” This child’s world is full of beauty, and Smith’s soft pastels convey that beauty perfectly. The illustrations glow with a sense of joy, comfort, and security. The author-illustrator collaboration took ten years to complete and the results are well worth the time and effort. One unfortunate typographical error in which “berets” is mistakenly used in place of “barrettes” does not in any way mar an otherwise delightful work. (author’s note) (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-023473-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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DINOSAURS GALORE!

A dozen familiar dinosaurs introduce themselves in verse in this uninspired, if colorful, new animal gallery from the authors of Commotion in the Ocean (2000). Smiling, usually toothily, and sporting an array of diamonds, lightning bolts, spikes and tiger stripes, the garishly colored dinosaurs make an eye-catching show, but their comments seldom measure up to their appearance: “I’m a swimming reptile, / I dive down in the sea. / And when I spot a yummy squid, / I eat it up with glee!” (“Ichthyosaurus”) Next to the likes of Kevin Crotty’s Dinosongs (2000), illustrated by Kurt Vargo, or Jack Prelutsky’s classic Tyrannosaurus Was A Beast (1988), illustrated by Arnold Lobel, there’s not much here to roar about. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58925-044-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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HONEY, I LOVE

Iffy art cramps this 25th-anniversary reissue of the joyful title poem from Greenfield’s first collection (1978), illustrated by the Dillons. As timeless as ever, the poem celebrates everything a child loves, from kissing Mama’s warm, soft arm to listening to a cousin from the South, “ ’cause every word he says / just kind of slides out of his mouth.” “I love a lot of things / a whole lot of things,” the narrator concludes, “And honey, / I love ME, too.” The African-American child in the pictures sports an updated hairstyle and a big, infectious grin—but even younger viewers will notice that the spray of cool water that supposedly “stings my stomach” isn’t aimed there, and that a comforter on the child’s bed changes patterns between pages. More problematic, though, is a dropped doll that suddenly acquires a horrified expression that makes it look disturbingly like a live baby, and the cutesy winged fairy that hovers over the sleeping child in the final scene. The poem deserves better. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009123-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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