Though the poems of Bruce Lansky and Jack Prelutsky remain the gold standard in terms of school poems, these do present some...

DID YOU HEAR WHAT I HEARD?

POEMS ABOUT SCHOOL

Winters follows up her debut poetry book (Did You See What I Saw?, 1996) with another collection of poems about school.

The 35 poems run the gamut from the first day of school to the first day of summer and are written from all sorts of perspectives, including those of a school, a bus, the new kid, and an earthworm. (That last poem may have readers scratching their heads as to how it fits, but the illustration of earthworms tunneling below a farmer on a tractor is quite fabulous.) Kids will find lots that is familiar here: a fire drill, the awkward thrill of spotting a teacher outside of school, a friend moving away, permission slips, academic subjects, a snow day, the 100th day of school, tests, and lice, among others (though absent are any poems about school lunches). The forms of the poems also vary. Some are free verse; others rhyme, though the rhymes and rhythm are occasionally weak (“guess” with “tests”). Barton’s digital illustrations have a watercolor look, with soft edges and colors. She focuses largely on the people, her vignettes filled with diverse students and teachers engaged with each other.

Though the poems of Bruce Lansky and Jack Prelutsky remain the gold standard in terms of school poems, these do present some different topics and viewpoints. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-53898-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit.

PROFESSOR ASTRO CAT'S SPACE ROCKETS

From the Professor Astro Cat series

The bubble-helmeted feline explains what rockets do and the role they have played in sending people (and animals) into space.

Addressing a somewhat younger audience than in previous outings (Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, 2013, etc.), Astro Cat dispenses with all but a light shower of “factoroids” to describe how rockets work. A highly selective “History of Space Travel” follows—beginning with a crew of fruit flies sent aloft in 1947, later the dog Laika (her dismal fate left unmentioned), and the human Yuri Gagarin. Then it’s on to Apollo 11 in 1969; the space shuttles Discovery, Columbia, and Challenger (the fates of the latter two likewise elided); the promise of NASA’s next-gen Orion and the Space Launch System; and finally vague closing references to other rockets in the works for local tourism and, eventually, interstellar travel. In the illustrations the spacesuited professor, joined by a mouse and cat in similar dress, do little except float in space and point at things. Still, the art has a stylish retro look, and portraits of Sally Ride and Guion Bluford diversify an otherwise all-white, all-male astronaut corps posing heroically or riding blocky, geometric spacecraft across starry reaches.

Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-55-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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An astonishing work of art and a crucial addition to every bookshelf.

WHEN WE SAY BLACK LIVES MATTER

The author of The Patchwork Bike (illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd, 2016) writes to children about the meaning of the phrase Black Lives Matter.

Pastel illustrations, also by Clarke, on dark, textured paper are paired with oversized, contrasting text addressed to “Little one.” In the visuals, a family that begins as a couple expecting a baby grows into a family with a child and then becomes part of a community in protest, marching for Black lives, before a final page shows a jubilant Black boy in a cap and gown. The adult narrator explains that “when we say Black Lives Matter, / we’re saying Black people are wonderful-strong.” Other meanings of the rallying cry, when it is called out, screamed, sung, laughed, and known, include a demand for respect, a defiant joy, a channeling of ancestors, an acknowledgment of trouble, and knowing one’s worth. Clarke’s text is poignant and mesmerizing, with design elements that raise the text to an artistic level, shaping it around the art and highlighting active and emotional words in color: enough, dancing, radiant, precious. The art is truly outstanding, gripping the heart from the very first spread and not letting go. With colored shapes and stained-glass motifs, these Black figures feel real and weighty. Within this deep dive are tragedy, fear, anger, and mourning alongside hope, comfort, strength, and triumph. This slim book contains a necessary and healing exploration of our current moment that will remain relevant for decades to come.

An astonishing work of art and a crucial addition to every bookshelf. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2238-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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This ambitious introduction to an important concept tries too hard to pigeonhole people, places, and things

NOUNS SAY "WHAT'S THAT?"

From the Word Adventures: Parts of Speech series

Anthropomorphized representations of a person, a place, and a thing introduce readers to nouns.

The protagonists are Person, a green, hairy, Cousin Itt–looking blob; Place, a round, blue, globe-ish being (stereotypically implied female by eyelashes and round pigtails); and Thing, a pink cloud with limbs, a porkpie hat, and red glasses. They first introduce the word “noun” and then start pointing out the nouns that fall under each of their categories. In their speech balloons, these vocabulary words are set in type that corresponds to the speaker’s color: “Each wheel is a thing noun,” says Thing, and “wheel” is set in red. Readers join the three as they visit a museum, pointing out the nouns they see along the way and introducing proper and collective nouns and ways to make nouns plural. Confusingly, though, Person labels the “bus driver” a “person noun” on one page, but two spreads later, Thing says “Abdar is a guard. Mrs. Mooney is a ticket taker. Their jobs are things that are also nouns.” Similarly, a group of athletes is a person noun—“team”—but “flock” and “pack” are things. Lowen’s digital illustrations portray a huge variety of people who display many skin and hair colors, differing abilities, and even religious and/or cultural markers (though no one is overweight). Backmatter includes a summary of noun facts, a glossary, an index (not seen), critical-thinking questions, and a list of further reading. Books on seven other parts of speech release simultaneously.

This ambitious introduction to an important concept tries too hard to pigeonhole people, places, and things . (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5158-4058-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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