Care and research are evident throughout this poignant book, which is much more than its subtitle, “Poems of the Sea”; in...




A collection of illustrated poems explores human travel across oceans through history.

Poems by 12 different poets explore, from the 15th century up to the present, human travels on the “blue road”—the oceans. Spanning Columbus’ voyage to “a new world” and the refugee crisis of the 21st century, and including the middle passage slave trade, Jewish Holocaust refugees, the Titanic, the Mariel boatlift, and the Irish Potato Famine migration, along with many others, the poems tell stories that are beautiful, sad, thought-provoking, and necessary. The full-bleed illustrations—drawings based on archival images and finished with some digital manipulation—aim to be the “visual equivalent” rather than “literal illustration” of the poems, but some are more successful than others—in particular the stark, vulnerable image that accompanies Jane Yolen’s twinned poems about the Jewish refugee ship St. Louis. Many illustrations offer the same full-bleed dark blue palette, which, through repetition, becomes numbing rather than evocative. Historical notes, such as a statement on the devastating effect of Columbus’ legacy of exploitation of the native inhabitants of the Caribbean, are relayed in the book’s backmatter, which also includes short bios on the poets and, interestingly, the typefaces used.

Care and research are evident throughout this poignant book, which is much more than its subtitle, “Poems of the Sea”; in essence and in sum, it is a history of inhumanity. (Picture book/poetry. 8-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63322-276-2

Page Count: 35

Publisher: Seagrass/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Visually attractive but cursory.



Readers are invited to wander Regent Street in London, La Rambla in Barcelona, Rynok Square in Lviv, Ukraine, and Hàng Bac in Hanoi, among others.

A well-traveled adult or even an armchair traveler may appreciate the lively sketches, emphasizing the architecture, transportation, and crowds in these busy urban sites. Will children? Perhaps not, despite the inclusion of some unusual global locales, such as the Rue de Bougounni, a large marketplace in Bamako, Mali, and Hatogaya, in Shirakawa, Japan, a historic street with “sloping, thatched roofs [that] prevent snow from piling up on top of the houses.” A few children are pictured having fun: Two kids play soccer in the Calleja de las Flores in Córdoba, Spain, and two other children make a snowman in the Japanese spread. Other kids are depicted walking alongside adults. The facts accompanying the illustrations are sometimes inadequate. The Anne Frank House receives prominent mention in the paragraph about Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht, but it’s impossible to tell whether it’s in the picture. The text about Calle 3 in Medellín, Colombia, mentions that “ten years ago, its residents barely dared to go outside” due to “the constant clashes between the army and drug gangs.” Without a specific year, the reference will be meaningless in the future. There is no map showing the various cities, nor any resources for readers motivated to learn more.

Visually attractive but cursory. (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-3-7913-7403-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Prestel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



From snapping shrimp with bubble-shooting claws to the Osedax worm that digests whalebones on the ocean floor, intriguing and unusual sea creatures are introduced in this collection of 18 engaging poems written in a variety of forms. A paragraph or two of identification and explanation follow each poem. This attractive small volume is illustrated with hand-colored linoleum block prints set on a blue-green background that darkens page by page as the reader descends. “Dive In!” introduces the habitat, and, on the last page, “Hooray for the Sea and the ROV” celebrates the ocean and the vehicles humans use to explore its deepest parts. One piece calls for two voices, a leopard sea cucumber and an emperor shrimp. Shape poems introduce the violet snail and a swarm of krill. These poems lend themselves to reading aloud, and many are short and catchy enough to be easily memorized. Concluding with a helpful glossary, a clear explanation of the poetic forms that points out rhymes, patterns and beats, suggested further resources and acknowledgements, this is an ideal title for cross-curricular connections. This gathering of humorous poetry and fascinating facts should be welcomed as a companion to Bulion and Evans’ previous collaboration, Hey There, Stink Bug! (2006)—even the surprise among the school of krill on the endpapers will make readers smile. (Informational poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56145-565-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet