At once affirming, silly, and poignant: a stunning visual and poetic compendium on growing up.

A charming, gorgeously illustrated children’s collection of light verse.

Wilson and Goode here combine their comedic artistry to create an edgy and substantial collection of light verse with exquisite accompanying pen-and-ink drawings unafraid to explore childhood’s darker reaches. From typographical play to concrete poems, Wilson pulls out a number of visual poetic stops in inviting readers to “think / outside / the box” and ponder humorous cautionary tales on the perils of fibbing, snitching and sibling rivalry, alongside wildly concocted romps through the imagination. A number of memorable creatures emerge from these pages—for example, “Horace Hippopotamus,” who “ate more than he oughtamus,” and a miffed ladybug, who admonishes: “Stop calling me lady. / Please. I’m a dude!” Awkward situations are celebrated in poems such as “Wishy-Washy,” where the speaker blows out birthday cake candles while silently imploring, “I wish Evan liked me!” Alas, “right then Evan picks his nose, / which turns his finger green!”; horrified, the speaker cries: “Relight the candles… / My first wish was a huge mistake. / I need to trade it in!” Here, as throughout the volume, in but a few strokes, Goode’s pen deftly realizes the moment: the offending finger prominently up Evan’s nose, the speaker’s heart-shaped wish wafting from the birthday candles’ smoke, jaggedly rent in half.

At once affirming, silly, and poignant: a stunning visual and poetic compendium on growing up. (Poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4169-8005-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014



Striking photographs of birds that might be seen in the eastern United States illustrate this new collection of 14 poems in varied forms. From bald eagle to marbled godwit, the range is wide. It includes familiar feeder birds like chickadees, birds of ponds and shores like wood ducks, hooded mergansers and sandpipers, as well as less-common birds like the great horned owl, rufous-sided towhee and cedar waxwings. Semple's splendid photographs show birds in the wild—flying, perched in trees or on slender reeds, running along the sand and even bunched on a boardwalk. The colors are true, and the details sharp; careful focus and composition make the birds the center of attention. Yolen’s poems comment on these birds’ appearances and their curious actions. An eastern kingbird is "a ninja of the air," and “...oystercatchers, unafraid, / Continue on their stiff parade.” The mockingbird’s “Threesome Haiku” matches his triple repetition of the tune he mocks. Some of the poetry limps, making an easy point rather than enlarging the reader’s understanding, but some is memorable. Perhaps most effective is the rhythmic “Terns Galore”: "Turning terns are all returning / There upon the shore." Short sidebars add interesting, informative details about each species and Donald Kroodsma, a well-known ornithologist, has added a short foreword. This is a welcome companion to A Mirror to Nature and An Egret’s Day (both 2009). (Informational poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59078-830-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011



Overall, a thick collection of humorous verse that might have been funnier with thinner ambitions.

Gifted poet and illustrator Florian (Poem Runs: Baseball Poems, 2012, etc.) here presents a chunky collection of drawings and brief poems on a host of silly subjects.

Posited as a superstore of verse on assorted topics children care about—school, family, animals, food and the like—one also can’t help thinking this “depot” represents a midway point for a number of poems that haven’t quite reached their creative destinations. To be truly effective, light or nonsensical verse should be as tight in its poetic construction as it is loosely suggestive in metaphorical associations, and a number of the works assembled here simply read as not fully cooked. The volume’s more successful poems tend to employ wordplay to elicit a chuckle or illustrate delightfully nonsensical truisms about language, as in “Insect Asides”: “A dragonfly is not a fly. / It’s not a dragon either. / No butter on a butterfly, / And bees cannot spell neither.” Likewise, when paired well, Florian’s free-form pen-and-ink drawings enhance the whimsical nature of the fanciful scenes depicted. In “Pets,” a creepy drawing of a girl with hairy spiders crawling all over her face offers a convincing explanation for the accompanying poem’s punch line: “Bruce has ten pet roosters. / Ben has ten pet hens. / Fran has ten tarantulas, / But not too many friends.”

Overall, a thick collection of humorous verse that might have been funnier with thinner ambitions. (Poetry. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4042-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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