An oversized, ambitious collection of verse that, in the end, proves sadly forgettable.



Over 120 poems, with accompanying illustrations, selected to help young readers discover the pleasures of committing verse to memory.

A good anthology, like a Whitman’s Sampler, should sate an immediate desire for sweet connection with its subject while whetting the appetite for fuller indulgence later on. This collection, so full of promise given the combined talents of these longtime collaborators, falls short of that mark. Touted as a sampling of poems both “ ‘easy to remember’ and ‘worth remembering,’ ” it should present works that sit easily in the ear and/or prove memorable for their overall effect. While Hoberman does exhume a few gems from the vast corpus of British and American verse, and Emberley’s vivid characters make the space surrounding the selected works visually appealing to younger readers, the marriage of word and image here is not always a happy one. For example, next to Dickinson’s celebrated “I’m nobody! Who are you?” an overalls-clad, mouth-less boy looks quizzically at the close-lipped frog in his hands. Dickinson’s “frog,” who famously tells its “name the livelong day / To an admiring bog,” is anything but silent. Moreover, the grouping of poems throughout—sometimes by form, others by content—seems arbitrary, ultimately making the collection’s most memorable aspects Hoberman’s introduction and concluding “suggestions for learning poetry by heart.”

An oversized, ambitious collection of verse that, in the end, proves sadly forgettable. (Poetry. 8-14)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-12947-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers.



A compendium of paranormal doings, natural horrors, and eerie wonders worldwide and (in several senses) beyond.

Maladroit title aside (“…in Bed” would make more sense, cautionwise), this collection of hauntings, cryptids, natural and historical mysteries, and general titillation (“Vampire bats might be coming for you!”) offers a broad array of reasons to stay wide awake. Arranged in no discernible order the 60-plus entries include ghostly sightings in the White House and various castles, body-burrowing guinea worms, the Nazca lines of Peru, Mothman and Nessie, the hastily abandoned city of Pripyat (which, thanks to the Chernobyl disaster, may be habitable again…in 24,000 years), monarch-butterfly migrations, and diverse rains of fish, frogs, fireballs, and unidentified slime. Each is presented in a busy whirl of narrative blocks, photos, graphics, side comments, and arbitrary “Fright-O-Meter” ratings (Paris’ “Creepy Catacombs” earn just a “4” out of 10 and black holes a “3,” but the aforementioned aerial amphibians a full “10”). The headers tend toward the lurid: “Jelly From Space,” “Zombie Ants,” “Mongolian Death Worm.” Claybourne sprinkles multiple-choice pop quizzes throughout for changes of pace.

A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2841-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)


Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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