OLD ELM SPEAKS

TREE POEMS

In a paean to trees, George and Kiesler follow up on The Great Frog Race and Other Poems (1997), with a similar specialized collection of nature poetry, loosely organized around the four seasons. An astute beholder, George resists the obvious—acorns, apples, leaves falling—for tiny, honed observations on the knotholes in a fence, a hammock that “fills the empty space between two trees,” or a jutting branch that doubles as “a tree horse” rather than a tree house. A dozen words or so are bound into small parcels; even as the contents are unwrapped, there is room for the imagination. Told from the point of view of an oak tree or a fisherman that snags a pine, this ode begs comparison to Janice May Udry’s A Tree is Nice (1955). Kiesler has lightened her textured oil palette with the new greens of leaves and maple shoots, pale cream buds, and a bright wayward kite against a winter white snow sky. Her figures, particularly faces, are deliberately abstract compared to the portraits of her main characters—trees. A lovely, often luminous, collection. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 1998

ISBN: 0-395-87611-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

HONEY, I LOVE

Iffy art cramps this 25th-anniversary reissue of the joyful title poem from Greenfield’s first collection (1978), illustrated by the Dillons. As timeless as ever, the poem celebrates everything a child loves, from kissing Mama’s warm, soft arm to listening to a cousin from the South, “ ’cause every word he says / just kind of slides out of his mouth.” “I love a lot of things / a whole lot of things,” the narrator concludes, “And honey, / I love ME, too.” The African-American child in the pictures sports an updated hairstyle and a big, infectious grin—but even younger viewers will notice that the spray of cool water that supposedly “stings my stomach” isn’t aimed there, and that a comforter on the child’s bed changes patterns between pages. More problematic, though, is a dropped doll that suddenly acquires a horrified expression that makes it look disturbingly like a live baby, and the cutesy winged fairy that hovers over the sleeping child in the final scene. The poem deserves better. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009123-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE

The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more