THE CUCKOO’S HAIKU

AND OTHER BIRDING POEMS

“Haiku and bird-watching are kindred arts,” writes the Ohio-based author on the jacket flap, “the subject of both is often a fleeting impression—a snatched glimpse.” Rosen’s poetic reflection eloquently captures the essence of this season-by-season celebration of 24 common American birds, and of haiku. Fellows’s gorgeous watercolor sketches on double-page spreads model hummingbirds, grackles and purple finches in their natural habitats, while brief avian observations (in a delicate cursive that requires a bit of squinting) evoke an enthusiastic birder’s field notes. For instance, on the American goldfinch spread, it’s noted, “funny—their song is ‘potato-chips, potato-chips’.” Each haiku mirrors one of the author’s “fleeting impressions”: That notorious mimic, the Northern mockingbird, is depicted as “the one-man bird band: / diva, choir, and orchestra / unbroken record” and, in another favorite, “wild turkeys’ snow tracks / their arrows point us one way / they go the other.” A not-to-be-ignored appendix (which highlights the book’s unfortunate lack of pagination!) lists the 24 species and expands upon the author’s personal insights—often quite wonderful—into both the birds and the words. (Poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3049-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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SPIDERS

The creepy-crawly close-up photo of a hairy spider on the cover will have kids (and adults) saying “Yuck!” while they grab the book to look for more inside. As with other Simon photographic nonfiction, this presents information on spiders in easy, understandable prose. The facts are made relative—for example, “jumping spiders can leap a distance of 40 times the length of its own body, the same as if you jumped the length of two basketball courts and made a slam dunk.” Examples interestingly describe the facts, e.g., “some spider silk is three times stronger than steel wire of the same thickness.” This is casual nonfiction, no chapters, categories, or index, but the amazing close-up color photos make the almost conversational text captivating. A subject that both fascinates and repels at the same time, this mini-documentary will have kids spinning their own stories about the spiders they’ve now discovered. (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-028391-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2003

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