Young people lucky enough to find this miraculous collection in their hands will indeed look.

READ REVIEW

THE PROPER WAY TO MEET A HEDGEHOG

AND OTHER HOW-TO POEMS

This anthology provides instruction on an eclectic sprawl of topics: walking on Mars, toasting marshmallows, telling the difference between goblins and elves, and more.

A table of contents readies readers and makes this zany collection feel orderly. “How to Build a Poem” comes first, celebrating the craft that underpins poetry and “words that hammer, / words that nail, / words that saw, / words that sail, / words that whisper, / words that wail.” Children immediately feel the pull of all the verse ahead. Contemporary poems make up the bulk of this collection, but a few poems reach across swaths of time. Robert Louis Stevenson’s brilliantly evocative “The Swing” proves how a great poem endures. Children will soar hearing, “Up in the air I go flying again, / Up in the air and down!” All of the poems offer exhilarating construction while speaking directly to children about topics young people hold close to their hearts (haircuts, riding a new bike, rules). Depicting a diverse gathering of children, these mellow painted illustrations feel at once soft and gravely, with crosshatching, textures, and lines. The engaging artwork nudges the poems into the foreground, giving them ample room to breathe. The collection closes with “How to Pay Attention,” just two lines that are almost a sacred offering. “Close this book. / Look.”

Young people lucky enough to find this miraculous collection in their hands will indeed look. (Picture book/poetry. 6-11)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8168-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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