An uncommon introduction to poetry.

READ REVIEW

COMMON CRITTERS

THE WILDLIFE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

Ordinary creatures are celebrated in verse.

Some mammals, birds, insects, and other creatures receive their charming due in this bouncy collection of brief rhymes. The poems read and generally scan very well; each critter is the star of its own verse. Featured creatures, familiar as glimpsed (mostly) in yards, gardens, parks, or on neighborhood strolls, include ants, robins, spiders, squirrels, honeybees, both caterpillars and butterflies, skunks, earthworms, and more. The poems are fun, and independent readers will enjoy the jaunty rhymes and rhythms. Poetry’s pleasures are best savored when recited, however, so kids who are already readers as well as listeners in laps and groups will relish hearing these selections aloud. These verses will well reward memorization, especially when lines like these (from “Crow”) are involved: “And could this fact be much absurder? / A group of you is called a murder!” Educators and parents will appreciate that the poems also provide interesting, easily digestible nuggets of scientific information. Delightful watercolor-and-ink cartoons add uncommon whimsy throughout and feature lush surroundings, shown additionally in lovely opening and closing spreads. Rhymes appear on verso pages with humorous portraits of critters; facing pages depict the animals in their accustomed settings. Further notes in the backmatter about the critters and poetry lend weight to the volume.

An uncommon introduction to poetry. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-88448-691-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Both playful and enlightening, period.

A BUNCH OF PUNCTUATION

A collection of peppy poems and clever pictures explains different forms of punctuation.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s “A Punctuation Tale” kicks off the proceedings with a punny description of a day full of punctuation; goodnight is “cuddled / in quotation marks.” Ensuing poems discuss the comma, the apostrophe, the dash (“A subdued dude / in tweet and text / he signals what / is coming next”), the colon, the exclamation point, and ellipses. Allan Wolf’s poem about this last is called “…” and begins, “The silent ellipsis… / replaces…words missed.” Prince Redcloud’s “Question Marks” is particularly delightful, with the question “Why?” dancing diagonally down in stair steps. The emphatic answer is a repeated “Because!” Other poems pay tribute to quotation marks, the hyphen, and the period. Michele Kruger explains “The Purpose of Parentheses”: “inside a pair / ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) / of slender curves / we’ll hold your few / inserted words.” The final poem is editor Hopkins’ own, “Lines Written for You to Think About” (inspired by Carl Sandburg), urging young readers to write their own verses employing (what else?) punctuation. The 12 poets included work with a variety of devices and styles for an always-fresh feel. Bloch’s illustrations are delightfully surprising, both illustrating each poem’s key points and playfully riffing on the punctuation itself.

Both playful and enlightening, period. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59078-994-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups.

WOLF PUPS JOIN THE PACK

From the First Discoveries series

A photo album of young wolves running, playing, and growing through their first year.

Light on factual details, the uncredited text largely runs to vague observations along the lines of the fact that “young wolves need to rest every now and then” or that packs “differ in size. Some are large and have many wolves, while others are small with only a few.” The chief draws here are the big, color, stock photos, which show pups of diverse ages and species, singly or in groups—running, posing alertly with parents or other adult wolves, eating (regurgitated food only, and that not visible), howling, patrolling, and snoozing as a seasonal round turns green meadows to snowy landscapes. In a notably perfunctory insertion squeezed onto the final spread, a wildlife biologist from the American Museum of Natural History introduces himself and describes his research work—all with animals other than wolves. Budding naturalists should have no trouble running down more nourishing fare, from Seymour Simon’s Wolves (1993) to Jonathan London’s Seasons of Little Wolf (illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, 2014) and on. Baby Dolphin’s First Swim follows the same formula even down to profiling exactly the same wildlife biologist.

A bland also-ran trailing a large litter of like-themed pups. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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