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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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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