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

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 quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it...

FEAR THE BUNNY

A tiger can’t believe it’s being upstaged in this picture-book riff on William Blake’s famous poem.

A group of zoologically diverse animals huddle around a fire, listening to a porcupine read from a chilling poem: “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, / in the forests of the night—.” An incredulous tiger interrupts, saying that the poem is actually about it. But a squirrel matter-of-factly states that “Here, it’s ‘bunnies, bunnies.’ ” The tiger still doesn’t understand why the animals would be so afraid of bunnies but not afraid of tigers and tries to explain why it, an apex predator, is far more threatening. The smaller animals remain unimpressed, calmly telling the tiger that “In this forest, we fear the bunny” and that it should “Hide now, before it’s too late.” An amusing and well-done premise slightly disappoints at the climax, with the tiger streaking away in terror before a horde of headlamp-wearing bunnies, but eager readers never learn what, exactly, the bunnies would do if they caught up. But at the end, a group of tigers joins the other animals in their awestruck reading of the adapted Blake poem, included in full at the end. Cute, fuzzy illustrations contrast nicely with the dark tone and forest background.

A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it overcomes a weak conclusion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems.

DIGGER, DOZER, DUMPER

Rhyming poems introduce children to anthropomorphized trucks of all sorts, as well as the jobs that they do.

Adorable multiethnic children are the drivers of these 16 trucks—from construction equipment to city trucks, rescue vehicles and a semi—easily standing in for readers, a point made very clear on the final spread. Varying rhyme schemes and poem lengths help keep readers’ attention. For the most part, the rhymes and rhythms work, as in this, from “Cement Mixer”: “No time to wait; / he can’t sit still. / He has to beg your pardon. / For if he dawdles on the way, / his slushy load will harden.” Slonim’s trucks each sport an expressive pair of eyes, but the anthropomorphism stops there, at least in the pictures—Vestergaard sometimes takes it too far, as in “Bulldozer”: “He’s not a bully, either, / although he’s big and tough. / He waits his turn, plays well with friends, / and pushes just enough.” A few trucks’ jobs get short shrift, to mixed effect: “Skid-Steer Loader” focuses on how this truck moves without the typical steering wheel, but “Semi” runs with a royalty analogy and fails to truly impart any knowledge. The acrylic-and-charcoal artwork, set against white backgrounds, keeps the focus on the trucks and the jobs they are doing.

While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5078-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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