The final stanza of Cynthia S. Cotten’s “My Card” says it all: “My library card / unlocks the world / and more / with a...

JUMPING OFF LIBRARY SHELVES

The title of this book of 15 poems will immediately grab the attention of teachers and librarians.

All together, the listing of titles in the table of contents forges a lyrical look at what libraries mean to individuals. Many of the poets are well-known in children’s literature, and the poems are personal and heartfelt. “Enchantment,” by Jane Yolen, revels in the power of a library card; “Internet Explorer,” by J. Patrick Lewis, makes a metaphorical nod at the integration of computers into library services; “The Poetry Section” by Alice Schertle, celebrates “that poetry sound”; “I’d Like a Story,” by X.J. Kennedy, consists of the energetic plea of an eager reader to a helpful librarian. The page composition and text placement add playfulness, while the gouache-and-pencil illustrations are buoyant and imaginative. Wispy backgrounds and splotches of color add ebullience. Hopkins, a master anthologist, has compiled an excellent collection and includes one of his own poems, a tribute to distinguished librarian and storyteller Augusta Baker (whom he knew personally). The overall effect is an endearing accolade for fellow book and library mavens.

The final stanza of Cynthia S. Cotten’s “My Card” says it all: “My library card / unlocks the world / and more / with a single / scan.” Amen. (Picture book/poetry 5-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59078-924-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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An emotional and powerful story with soaring poetry.

LAND OF THE CRANES

A fourth grader navigates the complicated world of immigration.

Betita Quintero loves the stories her father tells about the Aztlán (the titular land of cranes), how their people emigrated south but were fabled to return. Betita also loves to write. She considers words like “intonation,” “alchemy,” and “freedom” to be almost magic, using those and other words to create picture poems to paint her feelings, just like her fourth grade teacher, Ms. Martinez, taught her. But there are also words that are scary, like “cartel,” a word that holds the reason why her family had to emigrate from México to the United States. Even though Betita and her parents live in California, a “sanctuary state,” the seemingly constant raids and deportations are getting to be more frequent under the current (unnamed) administration. Thinking her family is safe because they have a “petition…to fly free,” Betita is devastated when her dad is taken away by ICE. Without their father, the lives of the Quinteros, already full of fear and uncertainty, are further derailed when they make the small mistake of missing a highway exit. Salazar’s verse novel presents contemporary issues such as “zero tolerance” policies, internalized racism, and mass deportations through Betita’s innocent and hopeful eyes, making the complex topics easy to understand through passionate, lyrical verses.

An emotional and powerful story with soaring poetry. (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-34380-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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An edge-of-your-seat read.

THE CANYON'S EDGE

A girl’s birthdays mark parallel tragedies for her broken family unit.

Last year’s celebration at a restaurant ended in an unexplained public shooting, and Nora’s mother died. She and her father are still wrestling with their trauma, Nora with a confirmed diagnosis of PTSD. For this year’s outing, Nora and her father head into the deserts of the Southwest on a rock-climbing expedition. They descend into a 40-foot deep slot canyon, then hike along inside until a flash flood barrels through the canyon, washing away all their supplies…and Nora’s father. She’s left to survive this symbolic and living nightmare on her own. Thankfully, she can make continuous use of her parents’ thorough training in desert knowledge. Brief sections of prose bracket the meat of the story, which is in verse, a choice highly effective in setting tone and emotional resonance for the heightened situation. Bowling’s poems run a gamut of forms, transforming the literal shape of the text just as the canyon walls surrounding Nora shape her trek. The voice of Nora’s therapist breaks through occasionally, providing a counterpoint perspective. Nora is White while two characters seen in memories have brown skin. The narrative also names local Native peoples. Elements of the survival story and psychological thriller combine with strong symbolism to weave a winding, focused, stunning narrative ultimately about the search for healing.

An edge-of-your-seat read. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49469-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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