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TIE YOUR SOCKS AND CLAP YOUR FEET

Laugh-out-loud nonsense poetry combine with cutting-edge paper collages for an irresistible picture book. Hort, familiar to readers as the author of the far more sober Reading Rainbow selection How Many Stars in the Sky? (1991) here reveals his wacky, endearing side. This book should come with a disclaimer: “Warning: Regular classroom read-alouds from this perky collection of 18 poems could cause a room full of second graders to dissolve into uncontrollable giggles.” And who could resist “When Groundhog Slides Down the Chimney,” which reminds readers that it’s time to “carve your eggs and paint your pumpkins” as “Columbus, it will soon be Christmas!” Beware—if you’re trying to soothe little ones before bed, do not read “Lullaby,” which urges kids to first “open your eyes” and then “close your eyes, it’s time to wake. . . . Come taste your breakfast rattlesnake.” Readers will enjoy the delicious “Broccoli Pie” and the “peppery cool / and lemony sweet” taste of “A Pair of Purple Oranges.” “I Drove Over Oceans,” with its pleasing echo of the old jump rope favorite “Johnny over the ocean, Johnny over the sea . . .” could sweep 21st-century playgrounds. Kids and teachers may be inspired to try their own hands at nonsense verse. But caution is recommended. Kids might find these poems too sidesplitting to settle down and write. Kroninger’s bright and wacky cut-paper collages vibrate with energy. Incorporating eye-popping magazine photo images, they fairly burst from the pages and never fail to ratchet up the hilarity. (Poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-83195-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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A LIBRARY

A lushly illustrated homage to librarians who provide a welcome and a home away from home for all who enter.

A love letter to libraries.

A Black child, with hair in two puffballs tied with yellow ribbons, a blue dress with a Peter Pan collar, and black patent leather Mary Janes, helps Grandmother with the housework, then, at Grandmother’s suggestion, heads to the library. The child’s eagerness to go, with two books under an arm and one in their hand, suggests that this is a favorite destination. The books’ wordless covers emphasize their endless possibilities. The protagonist’s description of the library makes clear that they are always free to be themselves there—whether they feel happy or sad, whether they’re reading mysteries or recipes, and whether they feel “quick and smart” or “contained and cautious.” Robinson’s vibrant, carefully composed digital illustrations, with bright colors that invite readers in and textures and patterns in every image, effectively capture the protagonist’s passion for reading and appreciation for a space where they feel accepted regardless of disposition. In her author’s note, Giovanni states that she spent summers visiting her grandmother in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she went to the Carnegie Branch of the Lawson McGhee Library. She expresses gratitude for Mrs. Long, the librarian, who often traveled to the main library to get books that Giovanni could not find in their segregated branch. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lushly illustrated homage to librarians who provide a welcome and a home away from home for all who enter. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-38765-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Versify/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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I TALK LIKE A RIVER

An astounding articulation of both what it feels like to be different and how to make peace with it.

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A young boy describes how it feels to stutter and how his father’s words see him through “bad speech day[s].”

Lyrical, painfully acute language and absorbing, atmospheric illustrations capture, with startling clarity, this school-age child’s daily struggle with speech. Free verse emulates the pauses of interrupted speech while slowing down the reading, allowing the words to settle. When coupled with powerful metaphors, the effect is gut-wrenching: “The P / in pine tree / grows roots / inside my mouth / and tangles / my tongue.” Dappled paintings inspire empathy as well, with amorphous scenes infused with the uncertainty that defines both the boy’s unpredictable speech and his melancholy. Specificity arrives in the artwork solely at the river, where boy and father go after a particularly bad morning. Scenery comes into focus, and readers feel the boy’s relief in this refuge where he can breathe deeply, be quiet, and think clearly. At this extraordinary book’s center, a double gatefold shows the child wading in shimmering waters, his back to readers, his face toward sunlight. His father pulls his son close and muses that the boy “talk[s] like a river,” choppy in places, churning in others, and smooth beyond.  (Father and son both appear White.) Young readers will turn this complex idea over in their minds again and again. The author includes a moving autobiographical essay prompting readers to think even further about speech, sounds, communication, self-esteem, and sympathy.

An astounding articulation of both what it feels like to be different and how to make peace with it. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4559-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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