Better suited to poetry classrooms than science labs.

RANDOM BODY PARTS

GROSS ANATOMY RIDDLES IN VERSE

Poetry + anatomy and physiology = an unusual combination.

Bulion has taken a series of poetry styles—sonnet, limerick, haiku, concrete poem, cinquain—as well as various rhyming schemes and uses them to provide brief, riddlelike descriptions of various organs of the human body. Although the first poem tells readers, “Some riddles will seem cinchy, / Some challengingly tough,” the answers are revealed on the same pages as the poems appear, making the guessing quite simple all the way through. Some of the spreads include humorous, cartoony illustrations, while others feature close-up or even microscopic photographic images, none of which are explicitly identified. Detailed “Poetry Notes” provide useful explanations of the styles and rhyming patterns of the poems. She relates each of them to the works of Shakespeare, although the audience that might most enjoy the hyperbole of the poems and images and the riddle format is unlikely to have yet acquired much knowledge of the Bard. The poem on teeth says, “A full set’s eight and twenty more,” although the explanation at the bottom of the page correctly identifies the number of permanent teeth as 32. While it’s hard not to admire the ick factor of couplets like, “Spuds unearthed from mud, then fried, / Mucus oozed from deep inside,” to describe the workings of the stomach, the audience for this effort may be limited.

Better suited to poetry classrooms than science labs. (Poetry. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-56145-737-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Readers will need to strap on their helmets and prepare for a wild ride.

WILD RIVER

Disaster overtakes a group of sixth graders on a leadership-building white-water rafting trip.

Deep in the Montana wilderness, a dam breaks, and the resultant rush sweeps away both counselors, the rafts, and nearly all the supplies, leaving five disparate preteens stranded in the wilderness far from where they were expected to be. Narrator Daniel is a mild White kid who’s resourceful and good at keeping the peace but given to worrying over his mentally ill father. Deke, also White, is a determined bully, unwilling to work with and relentlessly taunting the others, especially Mia, a Latina, who is a natural leader with a plan. Tony, another White boy, is something of a friendly follower and, unfortunately, attaches himself to Deke while Imani, a reserved African American girl, initially keeps her distance. After the disaster, Deke steals the backpack with the remaining food and runs off with Tony, and the other three resolve to do whatever it takes to get it back, eventually having to confront the dangerous bully. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds but are fairly broadly drawn; still, their breathlessly perilous situation keeps the tale moving briskly forward, with one threatening situation after another believably confronting them. As he did with Wildfire (2019), Newbery Honoree Philbrick has crafted another action tale for young readers that’s impossible to put down.

Readers will need to strap on their helmets and prepare for a wild ride. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64727-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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