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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2008

Categories:

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

Categories:

BLOCK CITY

Echoing Ashley Wolff’s 1988 approach to Stevenson’s poetic tribute to the power of imagination, Kirk begins with neatly drawn scenes of a child in a playroom, assembling large wooden blocks into, “A kirk and a mill and a palace beside, / And a harbor as well where my vessels may ride.” All of these acquire grand architectural details and toy-like inhabitants as the pages turn, until at last the narrator declares, “Now I have done with it, down let it go!” In a final twist, the young city-builder is shown running outside, into a well-kept residential neighborhood in which all the houses except his have been transformed into piles of blocks. Not much to choose between the two interpretations, but it’s a poem that every child should have an opportunity to know. (Picture book/poetry. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-689-86964-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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