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STAMPEDE by Laura Purdie Salas


Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School

by Laura Purdie Salas & illustrated by Steven Salerno

Pub Date: April 6th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-618-91488-3
Publisher: Clarion Books

No food fights or bullying here; it’s not that kind of wild. But these children have some behavioral characteristics that can be likened to animals’ habits. One child tucks his face into his sweater, turtlelike, to avoid answering a question. The monkey king swings on the jungle gym and the new student is a bewildered mouse in a maze. While several of Salas’s very simple verses are sharp and clever, too many are flawed, either by tenuous child-animal connections or, in some cases, by stretching the theme to the breaking point. There is also a problem of repetition: Three poems about crowds of children in the schoolyard variously compare them to swarming bees, flocks of sparrows and stampeding elephants. Salerno’s digitally enhanced gouache illustrations are bright and spirited, but only a few succeed in complementing the poems. Instead there seems to be a level of discomfort in handling the material, as if they’re not quite sure how to balance the appearance of the child as animal. Uneven and disappointing. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)