Familiar objects, playful language, and imaginative action add up to a collection that will amuse young listeners and,...

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IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

POEMS FROM A WIDE-AWAKE HOUSE

Short poems describe the adventures of inanimate objects found in a young child’s house at night.

Initial poems come from the perspective of brightly colored animal toys, stuffed and otherwise, who are ready for a raucous night of play after their human child falls asleep. Art supplies, an errant library book, items of clothing, and even a toilet, among other things, offer their points of view in the pages that follow. Some poems appear on double-page spreads; in other cases two or three poems are featured in the same amount of space accompanied by vignettes. The poems vary in form and impact, but the feel overall is cheery and energetic. Two of the most engaging and recognizable forms, acrostic and concrete, bring the parents’ belongings to life: A bottle of fragrance laments her immobile state, and a necktie uses humorous wordplay to describe its function. Matteson’s paintings, created in acrylics and gouache with colored pencil, employ multiple shades of blue as background to evoke the nighttime setting. Brighter shades and unusual perspectives match the liveliness of the text. Simply drawn faces on the objects convey emotions effectively, while stick-figure–style arms and legs provide the means of locomotion and heighten the whimsical tone. The child who sleeps through this activity has beige skin and straight, dark hair.

Familiar objects, playful language, and imaginative action add up to a collection that will amuse young listeners and, perhaps, inspire them to undertake imaginative explorations of their own . (Picture book/poetry. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62091-630-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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

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