A fun and buoyant collection of poetry full of sweet and inspiring messages for kids.



A debut volume of poetry for young readers explores the wonders and delights of childhood.

Geared toward readers ages 4 to 12, the 61 poems in this collection are a cheerful celebration of childhood and the power of the imagination, offering characters ranging from mermaids to a curious and brave chicken. The opening poem, “Find Your Thing,” sets the tone for the assemblage in its invitation to readers to discover what they enjoy (“Do you competitive hula hoop? / Or make a delicious noodle soup? / You will see (if your heart is in it), / With your THING, the sky’s the limit”). In the title poem, the random selections from a gumball machine are a gentle and effective metaphor for the role that chance can play in life (“I guess in this game of hope and chance, / There’s a lesson to be had— / When you don’t get what you want / Sometimes it’s not so bad”). Some of the strongest poems in the volume feature fantastic characters or situations. In “Mermaid Wish,” a young girl tells her father over dinner that she wants to be a mermaid, and the next morning she gets her wish for one day. “The Legend of Marco Pollo” tells the story of a chicken whose keen sense of adventure leads him to travel the world. Wordplay also figures prominently throughout Dollar’s poems. “A Girl Named Ella Minnow” focuses on a girl who loves singing the alphabet song because “her name is halfway through it.” “On-Uh-Mot-Uh-Pee-Uh” explores onomatopoeia, with playful examples included in each stanza (“On a chilly day in winter / You let out a SHIVER, shake and say BRRR”). The poems are complemented by debut illustrator Scroggins’ whimsical images that are reminiscent of Shel Silverstein’s pictures for his poetry collections. The illustrations provide visual interest for some of the shorter poems. For example, the stanzas follow the track of a giant looping roller coaster in “Roller Coaster” and kudzu vines in “The Thing About Kudzu.”  

A fun and buoyant collection of poetry full of sweet and inspiring messages for kids.

Pub Date: March 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64388-052-5

Page Count: 110

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.


The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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