The overarching concept, introducing children to science subjects using humor, is solid; too bad the verse doesn’t rise to...

READ REVIEW

HUNGRY FOR SCIENCE

POEMS TO CRUNCH ON

Whimsical rhymes describe a range of science topics for a younger audience.

Magnetism, geology, and the life cycle of a flea are just a few of the topics explored in this bright, energetic picture book. Appealing illustrations show a diverse array of characters gardening, building, sensing, and experimenting, with forays into the solar system and the animal kingdom as well. Each full-page spread presents a poem, and it is here that the book begins to fall down. The poems vary in structure: Some are rhyming couplets, some alternate rhymed and unrhymed lines, a few utilize repetition. However, only some of the stanzas effectively utilize meter, so readers are often required to wrench syllables around in order to get them to scan, marring the reading experience whether it’s to oneself or to an audience. The wacky poem about chemistry, for example, concludes “Hurray for the Captain! / The King of Chemistry! / His all-purpose cleaner / is also earth friend-ly!” Some of the scenarios are fun, others are more meditative, and the titular piece seems intended to encourage girls in STEM, but the educational possibilities are overall stymied by the versification.

The overarching concept, introducing children to science subjects using humor, is solid; too bad the verse doesn’t rise to the occasion. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-55455-396-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Both playful and enlightening, period.

A BUNCH OF PUNCTUATION

A collection of peppy poems and clever pictures explains different forms of punctuation.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s “A Punctuation Tale” kicks off the proceedings with a punny description of a day full of punctuation; goodnight is “cuddled / in quotation marks.” Ensuing poems discuss the comma, the apostrophe, the dash (“A subdued dude / in tweet and text / he signals what / is coming next”), the colon, the exclamation point, and ellipses. Allan Wolf’s poem about this last is called “…” and begins, “The silent ellipsis… / replaces…words missed.” Prince Redcloud’s “Question Marks” is particularly delightful, with the question “Why?” dancing diagonally down in stair steps. The emphatic answer is a repeated “Because!” Other poems pay tribute to quotation marks, the hyphen, and the period. Michele Kruger explains “The Purpose of Parentheses”: “inside a pair / ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) / of slender curves / we’ll hold your few / inserted words.” The final poem is editor Hopkins’ own, “Lines Written for You to Think About” (inspired by Carl Sandburg), urging young readers to write their own verses employing (what else?) punctuation. The 12 poets included work with a variety of devices and styles for an always-fresh feel. Bloch’s illustrations are delightfully surprising, both illustrating each poem’s key points and playfully riffing on the punctuation itself.

Both playful and enlightening, period. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59078-994-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more