Useful, if not vital, for a back-to-school collection and good for reading aloud.

SCHOOL PEOPLE

Poems about school staff aim to reassure anxious young students.

Prolific anthologist Hopkins encourages his audience with a series of poems describing school personnel, from the bus driver and crossing guard to the librarian and sympathetic nurse. He opens with the building’s welcome—“I am waiting—come on in!”—from Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Most adults are described from a child’s point of view. Matt Forrest Esenwine’s bus driver has a “good-morning smile.” In Michele Krueger’s art teacher’s room, “my imagination soars.” Irene Latham’s music teacher makes us “walk in music like morning rain.” Shi’s digital illustrations show students of varying ethnicities and a staff diverse in age and gender though not so much in race. They add significant details. The white custodian smilingly feeds a guinea pig; the brown-skinned, male librarian wears groovy shades. A small dog follows the children who walk to school and is waiting for its owner, a little brown-skinned child, at the end of the day. This surprisingly even collection includes short poems by 14 different authors including the compiler. These are mostly free verse, with two exceptions. The rhyming couplets Darren Sardelli uses to describe the custodian come as a pleasing change of pace. Alma Flor Ada takes advantage of the rhyming sounds of Spanish to celebrate learning that will “spice up / a world / twice as flavorful.”

Useful, if not vital, for a back-to-school collection and good for reading aloud. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62979-703-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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The creators’ matter-of-fact embrace of inclusion is the highlight of an otherwise uneven poetry collection.

I'M THE BIG ONE NOW!

POEMS ABOUT GROWING UP

Award-winning poet Singer explores the stumbles and triumphs that go hand in hand as preschoolers become big kids.

From a three-part poem that appears in three different sections to two poems for two voices, these 19 poems encapsulate the myriad experiences of a diverse cast of grade schoolers. Just as the featured accomplishments span a wide range of “firsts,” so do Singer’s observations span a variety of poetic forms and rhyming schemes. Free verse intermingles with snappy quatrains, and introspection mingles with shouts of joy. “We figure it out! / We let out a hoot. / We find in the doghouse / a big bag of loot!” at a “First Big-Kid Party.” However, the quality of these snapshots does not reflect the poet's previous noteworthy efforts. “Not big enough / to drive a car / (or my bike real far), / to grow a beard / (plus I’d look weird), / to stay up late / (like way past eight), / to own a phone… / But plenty big / to take a bus / without a fuss / and go to school / ALONE!” just doesn’t have her usual zing. Christy’s watercolor images capture gap-toothed grins and snaggle-brow frowns with equal aplomb. A hijab-wearing mother in a theater is pictured next to a ballpark scene featuring a baseball cap–wearing young lady.

The creators’ matter-of-fact embrace of inclusion is the highlight of an otherwise uneven poetry collection. (Picture book/poetry. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62979-169-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Ambitious but flawed.

MEAL OF THE STARS

POEMS UP AND DOWN

Jensen’s debut yields 15 skinny poems, 10 of which are meant to be read from bottom to top.

The untitled poems’ subjects range from the lofty—stars and rockets—to the mundane—a winter jacket’s zipper, a ladybug’s hike up a dandelion stem. Each line consists of just one word. Neither punctuation nor capitalization appears, rendering natural breaks tricky to discern. A waterfall poem reads “roaring / crashing / sparkling / and / white / oh / what / a / thunder / heaving / its / mighty / heart / the / waterfall / splashes / out / its / lovely / blue / music / on / the / slippery / rocks / below.” Poems soar, as in one about a kite, but they can also fall a bit flat, without rising from reportage to evocative engagement. Tusa’s quirky watercolor-and-ink illustrations invite browsing; black-and-white vignettes alternate with full-color pages. Rather than visually extending the poems, the pictures seem catapulted beyond them: A simple verse narrating an elevator ride appears against a double-page spread showing the narrator in a penthouse with a rooftop pool, a deck with a swing and a bike, an open-air bedroom and fruit trees. The choice to depict successive children throughout rather than to visually capture a consistent narrator seems a missed opportunity in a title that could have profited from more cohesion.

Ambitious but flawed. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-39007-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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