Shapiro follows up Because I Could Not Stop My Bike, and Other Poems (2003), illustrated by Matt Faulkner, with 23 more ingenious takeoffs on works from Emily Dickinson and similar renowned poets. Paying due homage to the originals with citations on the page and endnotes too, she artfully commandeers phrases and rhythms while steering the actual topics in wildly different directions. She transforms Poe’s “The Bells,” for instance, to “The Smells”: “Use your nose and find the smells! / All the smells! / What a lot of different things your sniffing nose foretells!” Not all of the entries are satirical, but Shapiro’s at her best when poking fun, whether she’s riffing on Blake’s “Sick Love” (“Oh, Tummy—you are sick! / I ate too much / of ice cream on a stick.”), Lord Byron (“So, our noses we’ll be blowing”) or even Stevenson’s “Requiem”: “Under a polka-dotted sheet.” Love’s monochrome ink-and-wash illustrations feature a multi-racial cast of children in various forms of travail or postures of reverie, along with the occasional stinky sponge, spattered pet or interested-looking bird. Read these aloud, either just for fun or to add decidedly different angles to a poetry unit. (Poetry. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-58089-143-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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PLB 0-06-027940-0 Dakos’s collection of 23 poems from the perspective of items found at school satisfies the I Can Read requirements of simplicity and word repetition, but may not lure beginning readers back for a second time. The material is uninspiring: The school’s front door says, “Keep me shut,/I have the flu,/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Keep me shut,/I have the flu.” A book sings “Happy Birthday” to a ruler, then sings “Happy Unbirthday” when the ruler says that it is not its birthday. Also appearing are a couple of clever items—one on a kidnapped pencil and another on a comb pulling hazardous duty—along with some typographic elements that amiably convey the idea that words are malleable; Reed’s illustrations possess geniality and character, making some inanimate objects very personable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-027939-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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