THE GOOF WHO INVENTED HOMEWORK

A collection of 36 poems that paint a funny, affectionate, and sometimes poignant portrait of a school year. All the poems can stand alone but they are loosely related by repeated details, such as a runaway rooster and a poet/custodian. The majority of the selections are humorous. Some of the best, such as the title poem, are written in dialogue and capture children's voices and concerns authentically. ``Bonkers'' is a hilarious litany of excuses that drive the teacher crazy, ``Thanksgiving'' takes a wry look at would-be disasters that turn out all right in the end, and ``The Book That Made Danny Cry'' is a fitting tribute to the power of a good read. That last poem and others balance the collection with a more serious view of life, such as ``Back Away! Back Away!'' about a terminally ill classmate, and ``Four Wishes'' about a city kid's yearning for wide open spaces. Some of the poems are stronger than others, but this is an effective and welcome collection of verse, ably supported by Brunkus's fine and funny black-and-white drawings. (Poetry. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1927-2

Page Count: 74

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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FOOTPRINTS ON THE ROOF

POEMS ABOUT THE EARTH

Nineteen poems, some rhymed, are paired with So’s (Countdown to Spring, p. 50, etc.) ink drawings. The poems are sometimes dry and sometimes didactic, but most are straightforward and occasionally giddy. So’s art is by turns whimsical, wild, or reticent. The title comes from “Burrows” a poem about the creatures that live under the “roof” of the earth: rabbits, foxes, snakes. The image of a dragon under the volcano in “Dormant Dragons” is beautifully realized as So turns wash and squiggle into the beast. “Winter Solstice” connects a wintry day in America with the first day of summer in Australia most charmingly. In “Go-Betweens”: “They issue warnings / They offer praise / This is trees’ work / and they do it with such uncomplaining grace / it never seems like work at all.” A swath of soft ink and a perfectly rendered rose reflect the turning of the year in “Summer Solstice”—“The richest garden / the greenest trees / will have a different form / wearing withered leaves like memories / of days when it was warm.” Esbensen’s venerable Cold Stars and Fireflies (1984) makes a nice accompaniment. (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81094-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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A poor performance, “[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE

Like the old man’s hose, Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” speech is “a world too wide” to be well-served by this paltry selection of 21 poems, three per “age.”

Hopkins tries to inject some color into the mix with Walt Whitman’s “When I heard the learn’d astronomer,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee?” and Lewis Carroll’s “You are old, father William.” Unfortunately, these, combined with passages from the speech itself, only make his other choices look anemic. To the “infant, / Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms,” for instance, Rebecca Kai Dotlich offers a bland “Amazing, your face. / Amazing”; on the facing page, a “traditional Nigerian lullaby” is stripped of music: “Sleep my baby near to me. / Lu lu lu lu lu lu.” Along with Joan Bransfield Graham’s “A Soldier’s Letter to a Newborn Daughter,” which ends with a condescending “I’m coming home / to my girls… / With All My Love, / DAD,” most of the rest are cast in prosaic free verse. Hopkins’ “Curtain,” probably written for this collection, closes the set with theatrical imagery. Billout supplies pale, distant views of small figures and some surreal elements in largely empty settings—appropriate, considering the poetry, but they lack either appeal for young audiences or any evocation of the Shakespearean lines’ vigorous language and snarky tone.

A poor performance, “[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56846-218-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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