This perfect poetical paean to pussycats makes both a fine gift for a cat lover and an excellent haiku handbook.

THE MAINE COON'S HAIKU

AND OTHER POEMS FOR CAT LOVERS

A kitty companion to The Cuckoo’s Haiku (2009) and The Hound Dog’s Haiku (2011).

Rosen presents one perfect haiku—five-seven-five with a burst of insight—each on 20 different cat breeds. The poems are split into sections called “Inside,” followed by “Outside,” then “Inside” and finally “Outside,” a pattern any human owned by a cat will recognize. The Zen of the “Abyssinian” is emblematic of the whole collection: “curled up on your book / cat won’t care what happens next / now’s the only page.” Each poem is paired with a beautiful, digitally created full-color illustration by White that sometimes is content to illustrate the poem and other times makes its image more clear, as with “Bombay”: “paired shadows prowling / in nightfall, but just two lights / pierce that darkness.” The double-page spread shows a black cat and its shadow on a dark cityscape in grays and aqua; the two yellow eyes gleam. Though it looks like there are two cats, the shadow, of course, has no eyes. Backmatter includes a few short paragraphs of information on each breed, ranging from historical to behavioral. Norwegian forest cats love to be handled, for example, and the Scottish fold originates from a single progenitor, born in 1961.

This perfect poetical paean to pussycats makes both a fine gift for a cat lover and an excellent haiku handbook. (Picture book/poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6492-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life.

ODDER

A Monterey Bay sea otter comes of age.

Odder’s mom told her to stay away from sharks, humans, and anything else she didn’t understand, but after saving her friend Kairi from a shark attack, she encounters all three. Injured herself during the rescue, Odder ends up recuperating at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or Highwater as the otters call it, where she once lived as a young orphaned pup. Last time, the humans helped her reintegrate into the wild, but because of her injuries this time the outcome might be different. Soon Kairi is there too, stricken with “the shaking sickness” and having lost her newborn pup. Now Kairi is fostering a new pup, and soon one is introduced to an initially reluctant Odder in hopes that she will help raise it so it can return to the wild. The free verse effortlessly weaves in scientific information, giving Odder a voice without overly anthropomorphizing any of the animals. The natural appeal of sea otters will draw readers in, but the book doesn’t shy away from real-world threats such as predators, disease, and pollution. Loosely based on the stories of real sea otters rehabilitated at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this novel will give readers lots to talk about, but uneven pacing and a rushed ending may leave some unsatisfied. Charming black-and-white spot art captures the world and life of the sea.

Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life. (glossary, author’s note, bibliography, resources) (Verse novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-14742-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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