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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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“He called on me. / My answer’s wrong. / Caught like a squirrel / on an open lawn. / Standing alone, / twiddling my paws, / frozen in place, / working my jaws. / I’d like to bolt, / but where? / I moan. / Could anyone / be more / alone?” Poet, educator and storyteller Holbrook returns with a collection of 41 poems about school worries and classroom problems. Here readers find substitutes and pop quizzes, bullies and homework storms. Nearly half of the poems have appeared in previous collections, but here the white space around each poem is filled with poetry facts, definitions and challenges to get young poets writing. Some entries are more successful than others; a few have odd rhymes, others a jangle in the rhythm. The title, too, is quite misleading: There is only one zombie poem. However, the subjects will resonate, and the hints and tips will excite young writers whether they currently love poetry or not. Sandstrom’s serviceable pen, ink and faded watercolor spot illustrations are as hit-and-miss as the poems. This is good classroom poetry, though, if not verse for the ages. (Poetry. 9-11)



Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-820-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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The poet’s definitely up on his Star Wars canon, and readers had better be, too, to keep pace.



The author of The Empire Striketh Back (2014) tries his hand at light verse.

For all that he experiments with a villanelle, a shaped poem, and other forms, overall Doescher keeps to a rolling beat as he spins out a hefty 79 poems thick with names, places, and references to events in the films and other media. “G is for Greedo, that green guy’s the worst! / H is for Han (who, with no doubt, shot first).” One poem addresses race directly (“Jeff has Poe-colored skin, / While Joseph’s more like Finn”), and another wishes that, whatever’s going on in a galaxy far, far away, “Star Peace” would come to this one. In rather odd contrast, “If I were a stormtrooper,” writes a child, “I’d practice my aim anytime there’s a break / (So I wouldn’t miss every shot that I make”). Nevertheless, in general the verses’ actual subjects tend toward conventional domestic matters, from the titular bedtime verse, which begins “I wish I had a Wookiee, / To keep the monsters out,” to little Mackenzie Hale, who “would not eat her kale.” Budgen’s ink, wash, and occasionally color scenes of licensed characters or of smiling, racially diverse children, often in costume or with licensed toys, are likewise benign. Like a celebrity tell-all, the collection is capped by an index of, mostly, characters and creatures.

The poet’s definitely up on his Star Wars canon, and readers had better be, too, to keep pace. (Poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59474-962-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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