Scintillating! (permissions, acknowledgments) (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

FIREFLY JULY

A YEAR OF VERY SHORT POEMS

Choosing from works spanning three centuries, Janeczko artfully arranges 36 elegant poems among the four seasons.

With each poem’s relationship to its season often subtle or tangential, Janeczko avoids the trite repetition flawing some seasonal poetry collections. The initial poem, by Cid Corman for “Spring,” lauds a dawn scene: “Daybreak reminds us— / the hills have arrived just in / time to celebrate.” Emily Dickinson’s poem shimmers in the “Summer” section: “The Moon was but a Chin of Gold / A Night or two ago —/ And now she turns Her perfect Face / Upon the World below….” (The moon’s presence shines throughout, in eight poems.) Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser, whose published 2003 collaboration is represented by two poems, offer this autumnal musing: “What is it the wind has lost / that she keeps looking for / under each leaf?” The winter poems are snowy, but they are also laced with fog; nature scenes alternate with depictions of a subway, a rusting truck, harbor boats and more. Sweet’s effervescent mixed-media collages include signature elements like graph paper and saturated pinks; the large format engenders some expansive compositions, such as one showing the curve of the Earth near an enormous, smiling full moon. Inventive details abound, too: The last spread shows a child asleep under a crazy quilt that incorporates motifs from all four seasons—a perfect visual ending.

Scintillating! (permissions, acknowledgments) (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4842-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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A sweet and quiet homage to friendship, nature, and the power of words and poetry.

POETREE

A little girl enjoys writing poems and gets an unexpected surprise when she writes a poem and gives it to a tree, making “the world more splendid."

Sylvia marks the end of winter with a poem about springtime. After reading it to a squirrel, she ties it to a tree (“hoping that it didn’t count as littering”). When she passes the tree on her way to school the next day, she finds a surprise—another poem on the tree. “She never imagined the tree might write back.” Sylvia continues to write poems to the tree and waits to find the next poem. When she realizes a teasing classmate, Walt, is the author of the other poems, she is sad: “Had the tree she loved so much not given her a thing?” Not too unsurprisingly, the two poets become friends, harmoniously trading rhymes beneath the tree that has brought them together. Using precise, intelligent prose, Reynolds captures moments of a child’s innocence: “ ‘So what’s your name?’ Sylvia asked the tree. But the tree stood in silence. ‘Are you shy like me?’ The tree nodded in the breeze. Sylvia understood.” Maydani’s delicate, pencil-and-watercolor paintings, suffused with spring pastels, affectionately invest Sylvia (who has brown skin), Walt (who presents white), and even the tree with personality.

A sweet and quiet homage to friendship, nature, and the power of words and poetry. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-53912-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A poem about the pandemic with vivid illustrations and a strong environmental message.

AND THE PEOPLE STAYED HOME

During a period of quarantine, people discover new ways to live—and new lessons about how to care for the planet—in this debut picture book.

In this work’s poem, O’Meara describes lockdowns experienced by many across the world during the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning with the title phrase, the author discusses quiet activities of solitude and togetherness as well as more boisterous ways of interacting. These times of being apart give people a new perspective, and when they reunite, “they grieved their losses, / and made new choices” to restore the planet. The spare verse allows the illustrations by Di Cristofaro and Pereda to take center stage. The colorful, slightly abstract cartoons depict a rainbow of people and pets, many of them living in apartments but some residing in larger, greener spaces. Images of nature healing show the author’s vision of hope for the future. While this was written in March and originally published as an online poem, the lack of an explicit mention of the reason behind the lockdowns (and the omission of the experiences of essential workers) could offer readers an opportunity to imagine a planetary healing beyond the pandemic that inspired the piece. The accessible prose and beautiful images make this a natural selection for young readers, but older ones may appreciate the work’s deeper meaning.

A poem about the pandemic with vivid illustrations and a strong environmental message.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73476-178-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tra Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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