HAMSTERS, SHELLS, AND SPELLING BEES

SCHOOL POEMS

This well-chosen anthology focuses on classroom and schoolyard experiences and is just right for beginning readers in primary grades. Poems both reward and challenge children with satisfying words like “pineapple” and “tarantula” (the latter successfully mastered in a spelling bee). Various poetic forms, rhyme patterns and techniques are explored. Alice Schertle’s “Question” is a haiku: “Pencil stub, I must / ask myself: How many more / poems are in you?” Louis Phillips’s existential chuckler “The Eraser Poem”—well, erases itself. Others examine the mundane (from backpack to lunch bag); the momentous (“School Play”) and the minute—Ann Rousseau Smith’s “Buzz” chronicles a bee’s classroom visit. Yoshikawa’s cheerily simple mixed-media pictures depict children, teachers and a swirl of objects against colorful full-bleed backgrounds, taking early-reader illustrations to a welcome new level. An attractive table of contents and index of authors and titles complete the package. This title in the long-standing I Can Read series should sell itself in bookstores and should be a first purchase for libraries. (Early reader/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-074112-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2008

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ALL THE COLORS OF THE EARTH

This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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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

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