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Children who enjoy poetry will almost certainly find something in the work that resonates.

British poet Mucha reaches for quirk in this debut collection for children.

Like many a children’s anthology, the collection is replete with poems addressing a diverse range of topics and artistic forms interspersed with explanatory notes. Where many of this ilk are almost entirely humorous, however, some of Mucha’s poems take darker or more plaintive, even existential tones and are enlivened by an oh-so-characteristically British dryness rather than, say, poop jokes. As the title suggests, some poems are fairy-tale reboots, but others tackle contemporary social issues or render the banalities of life in vividly muddled color; still others are so absurd that they seem lifted directly from the more bizarre corners of the internet. From “Alien Dictionary”: “LEAVES are dropped by tall, / one-legged creatures (known as TREES) / when they are sad.” A consistent style, verging on pretentious in its deliberately constructed artistry, is more or less maintained throughout. Some poems seem almost to be trying too hard to be topical, aesthetic, or funny, whereas others, which lay out their core emotions in simple, frank terms, are far more genuinely moving and beautiful. On “The Lonely Side of the Moon,” a fictional Michael Collins muses: “Billions / (plus two) / on the other / side. But over / here, it’s just         me / and radio / silence.” Rex’s black-and-white illustrations are mostly decorative but at their best add their own whimsical notes.

Children who enjoy poetry will almost certainly find something in the work that resonates. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-913074-79-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Otter-Barry

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Readers can count on plenty of chuckles along with a mild challenge or two.

Rollicking verses on “numerous” topics.

Returning to the theme of her Mathematickles! (2003), illustrated by Steven Salerno, Franco gathers mostly new ruminations with references to numbers or arithmetical operations. “Do numerals get out of sorts? / Do fractions get along? / Do equal signs complain and gripe / when kids get problems wrong?” Along with universal complaints, such as why 16 dirty socks go into a washing machine but only 12 clean ones come out or why there are “three months of summer / but nine months of school!" (“It must have been grown-ups / who made up / that rule!”), the poet offers a series of numerical palindromes, a phone number guessing game, a two-voice poem for performative sorts, and, to round off the set, a cozy catalog of countable routines: “It’s knowing when night falls / and darkens my bedroom, / my pup sleeps just two feet from me. / That watching the stars flicker / in the velvety sky / is my glimpse of infinity!” Tey takes each entry and runs with it, adding comically surreal scenes of appropriately frantic or settled mood, generally featuring a diverse group of children joined by grotesques that look like refugees from Hieronymous Bosch paintings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Readers can count on plenty of chuckles along with a mild challenge or two. (Poetry/mathematical picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0116-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Fresh off his engaging Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys (illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, 2010) and inspired by the work of Andrew Russ, Raczka continues to dabble in short lyric forms, here experimenting with images conjured up by breaking down a single word. The smaller components that comprise the subsequent free-verse poem read left to right, cascading down the page while maintaining the same horizontal letter positions as in the original word. For example, “vacation” yields “ac tion /     i n /   a / va     n,” alongside Doniger’s spare three-color drawing of a family and a rabbit traveling through the countryside in a van with a canoe on the roof. For readers who find the spatiality of the lettering a challenge for comprehension, Raczka sets the poem in more standard format, “vacation / action / in / a / van,” on the following page. While these 22 poems are uniformly clever, some, like “earthworms”—“a / short / storm / worms / here / worms / there / wear / shoes”—are more successful than others, such as “flowers”—“we slow / for / free / wows”—both in their playfulness and in evoking the suggestive depths of language. Fun as a prompt for poetic exploration but less fulfilling as a stand-alone volume. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59643-541-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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