BOOKJOY, WORDJOY

The virtues of reading and playing with words collide in Mora and Colón’s latest collaboration.

Mora begins with an appeal: “Let’s read, let’s write, let’s explore galore!” The subsequent series of poems demonstrates the dual importance of bookjoy, “the fun of reading,” and wordjoy, “the fun of writing.” For the latter, see the second poem, entitled “Collecting Words,” which encourages readers to treasure words like “ding-dong” and “sssssssssssssnake.” Some poems follow a didactic arc (“Writing Secrets,” for example, aims to reassure budding writers), but most bask in wordplay and whimsy with aplomb. “Our Cottage in the Woods” focuses on a mother and her child in the woods, the garden, the “cool creek” as they watch hummingbirds and bake and read together. In the wonderful “Antelope Canyon,” the author describes the creation of a canyon, with “waterfalls / buffing sharp corners into curves, / careening around boulders.” In the accompanying illustration, Colón’s artwork shows a dark-skinned child at the bottom of a vibrant canyon gazing up at the night sky while an antelope does the same from above. Overall, the superb pictures feature a racially diverse cast—often with elongated, lively bodies—and landscapes full of curves and curls in bright, earthy colors. Not all poems hold up well, but the author peppers Spanish phrases here and there to add some new layers to a gratifying collection.

Joy indeed. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62014-286-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Some issues with design and tone but a mostly worthy appreciation of the women who stood and stand (if, sometimes, only...

HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT LADY BIRD?

POEMS ABOUT OUR FIRST LADIES

“We know Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, / but what about those other madams”?

For each first lady from Martha Washington (“Raised to be a planter’s wife, / taught how one behaves / as mistress of the household / and the household slaves”) to immigrant Melania Trump, Singer offers a thumbnail character study in verse that’s paired to an ink-and-wash figure by Carpenter. If there is any common theme, it’s mortality: Martha Jefferson, who died 19 years before her husband’s election, is represented by a framed silhouette over a silent pianoforte; Peggy Taylor lies prostrate before a tombstone; a veiled Jackie Kennedy looks out from an antique TV screen. Singer likewise often includes mention of lost husbands or children among references to favored causes and personal accomplishments. On the other hand, Mary Todd Lincoln, generously summed up as “an unlucky woman—kindly and cursed,” poses regally as her brown-skinned dressmaker (unnamed in the poem but identified in the endnotes) cuts up an American flag to make a gown while Abe stands nearby, gaping comically at a sheaf of bills. Brief profiles at the end add some detail but mostly just recap the poems’ content, and a pictorial timeline on the rear endpapers would serve as an index if the jacket flap didn’t cover a good portion of it.

Some issues with design and tone but a mostly worthy appreciation of the women who stood and stand (if, sometimes, only figuratively) next to the presidents. (Poetry/collective biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2660-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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AT THE SEA FLOOR CAFÉ

ODD OCEAN CRITTER POEMS

From snapping shrimp with bubble-shooting claws to the Osedax worm that digests whalebones on the ocean floor, intriguing and unusual sea creatures are introduced in this collection of 18 engaging poems written in a variety of forms. A paragraph or two of identification and explanation follow each poem. This attractive small volume is illustrated with hand-colored linoleum block prints set on a blue-green background that darkens page by page as the reader descends. “Dive In!” introduces the habitat, and, on the last page, “Hooray for the Sea and the ROV” celebrates the ocean and the vehicles humans use to explore its deepest parts. One piece calls for two voices, a leopard sea cucumber and an emperor shrimp. Shape poems introduce the violet snail and a swarm of krill. These poems lend themselves to reading aloud, and many are short and catchy enough to be easily memorized. Concluding with a helpful glossary, a clear explanation of the poetic forms that points out rhymes, patterns and beats, suggested further resources and acknowledgements, this is an ideal title for cross-curricular connections. This gathering of humorous poetry and fascinating facts should be welcomed as a companion to Bulion and Evans’ previous collaboration, Hey There, Stink Bug! (2006)—even the surprise among the school of krill on the endpapers will make readers smile. (Informational poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56145-565-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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