Whether describing a nighttime trip to the bathroom or discouraging fratricide, Miller and Santat’s fun, eminently...

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Serious poetic fun.

Dark humor abounds in Old 97’s singer/songwriter Miller’s first foray into light verse for children, where his zany poetic antics are deftly paired with the visually arresting mixed-media somersaults of Caldecott medalist Santat. Doubtless drawing on experiences from his day jobs as a rocker and father, Miller offers nearly two dozen rhymed “silly, subversive poems” aimed at capturing children at their scheming best and adults as less than perfect. The collection’s opening poem, describing the young speaker’s hidden talent for using a toe to flush the toilet, sets the irreverent tone: “I don’t have a name for my potty karate / I might call it Tae Kwon Doo / Or maybe I’ll say I’m a third degree black belt / In the top secret art of Kung Poo.” Later, in “i want a dog,” Santat employs full use of the double-page spread by depicting the speaker making her case (“I want a dog / I’ll give you until my next birthday / If there’s no dog by then I am RUNNING AWAY/ I’ll go off and live in a bog”) with the hilarious aid of a 55-slide presentation. Every facial expression displays his exceptional talent at visual characterization.

Whether describing a nighttime trip to the bathroom or discouraging fratricide, Miller and Santat’s fun, eminently contemporary collaboration will charm both kids and the adults reading with them. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-41652-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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