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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single...


A linguistic and visual feast awaits in Alexander and Sweet’s debut collaboration.

If the mechanics of deciphering words on a page is a well-covered topic, the orchestration of finding magic between pages is an art emphasized but unexplained…until now. First things are first: “find a tree—a black tupelo or dawn redwood will do—and plant yourself.” Once settled, take the book in hand and “dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and pop the words out…[then] // Squeeze every morsel of each plump line until the last drop of magic / drips from the infinite sky.” Reading, captured here in both content and form, is hailed as the unassailably individual, creative act it is. The prosody and rhythm and multimodal sensuousness of Alexander’s poetic text is made playfully material in Sweet’s mixed-media collage-and-watercolor illustrations. Not only does the book explain how to read, but it also demonstrates the elegant and emotive chaos awaiting readers in an intricate partnership of text and image. Despite the engaging physicality of gatefolds and almost three-dimensional spreads, readers with lower contrast sensitivity or readers less experienced at differentiating shapes and letters may initially find some of the more complex collage spreads difficult to parse. Children depicted are typically kraft-paper brown.

New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single step . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-230781-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it...


A tiger can’t believe it’s being upstaged in this picture-book riff on William Blake’s famous poem.

A group of zoologically diverse animals huddle around a fire, listening to a porcupine read from a chilling poem: “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, / in the forests of the night—.” An incredulous tiger interrupts, saying that the poem is actually about it. But a squirrel matter-of-factly states that “Here, it’s ‘bunnies, bunnies.’ ” The tiger still doesn’t understand why the animals would be so afraid of bunnies but not afraid of tigers and tries to explain why it, an apex predator, is far more threatening. The smaller animals remain unimpressed, calmly telling the tiger that “In this forest, we fear the bunny” and that it should “Hide now, before it’s too late.” An amusing and well-done premise slightly disappoints at the climax, with the tiger streaking away in terror before a horde of headlamp-wearing bunnies, but eager readers never learn what, exactly, the bunnies would do if they caught up. But at the end, a group of tigers joins the other animals in their awestruck reading of the adapted Blake poem, included in full at the end. Cute, fuzzy illustrations contrast nicely with the dark tone and forest background.

A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it overcomes a weak conclusion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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