While the Irish connections are often opaque, repeated recitations are a must.

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A SAILOR WENT TO SEA, SEA, SEA

FAVOURITE RHYMES FROM AN IRISH CHILDHOOD

Webb and McCarthy present 69 nursery rhymes, poems, songs, and verses in a humorously illustrated read-aloud anthology.

The subtitle is meant literally, as the anthologist is Irish, rather than as a promise of all-Irish content. Many familiar and not iconically Irish rhymes, such as “She’ll Be Coming ’round the Mountain” and “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,” are here, as well as Irish staples like “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” Many of the verses selected are anonymous, but in addition to William Butler Yeats, such Irish notables as James Joyce and Padraic Colum are included. Non-Irish poets of renown also appear, with Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Happy Thought” and Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussycat,” among others. Although Webb’s introduction alludes to research that yields Irish connections, she provides little expatiation beyond informing readers that Irish-born labor organizer Mother Jones may have been that woman coming around that mountain. One verse per page is the norm, although on occasion a second complementing verse or one-liner is added. For example, Oscar Wilde’s “Symphony in Yellow,” about a yellow omnibus crawling across a bridge like a yellow butterfly, shares a page with the quip “What is a butterfly? At best, he’s but a caterpillar dressed.” Digitally composed illustrations featuring cartoonishly quirky animal and human characters (racially diverse) in muted, opaque colors decorate the book.

While the Irish connections are often opaque, repeated recitations are a must. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-84717-794-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: O'Brien Press/Dufour Editions

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Both playful and enlightening, period.

A BUNCH OF PUNCTUATION

A collection of peppy poems and clever pictures explains different forms of punctuation.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s “A Punctuation Tale” kicks off the proceedings with a punny description of a day full of punctuation; goodnight is “cuddled / in quotation marks.” Ensuing poems discuss the comma, the apostrophe, the dash (“A subdued dude / in tweet and text / he signals what / is coming next”), the colon, the exclamation point, and ellipses. Allan Wolf’s poem about this last is called “…” and begins, “The silent ellipsis… / replaces…words missed.” Prince Redcloud’s “Question Marks” is particularly delightful, with the question “Why?” dancing diagonally down in stair steps. The emphatic answer is a repeated “Because!” Other poems pay tribute to quotation marks, the hyphen, and the period. Michele Kruger explains “The Purpose of Parentheses”: “inside a pair / ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) / of slender curves / we’ll hold your few / inserted words.” The final poem is editor Hopkins’ own, “Lines Written for You to Think About” (inspired by Carl Sandburg), urging young readers to write their own verses employing (what else?) punctuation. The 12 poets included work with a variety of devices and styles for an always-fresh feel. Bloch’s illustrations are delightfully surprising, both illustrating each poem’s key points and playfully riffing on the punctuation itself.

Both playful and enlightening, period. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59078-994-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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This posthumously published bilingual collection will be welcomed by Alarcón’s many admirers.

FAMILY POEMS FOR EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK / POEMAS FAMILIARES PARA CADA DÍA DE LA SEMANA

Set within a loose mythological framework, each poem is partnered with a day of the week, playing with its etymology in both Spanish and English.

Alarcón juxtaposes this classical imagery with a child’s limitless perspective of place. “Thursday / this day is for Jupiter / the largest planet of all / and god of thunder Thor— / like Jupiter and Thor / I feel big and mighty / on Thursday.” Daily ritual and mundane activities take on the patina of legend as time molds the character of what a family is and what it becomes. Equating the distinct characteristics of each day with the uniqueness of each family member, the poems embrace the strength of individuality while recognizing the power of the whole. “I begin to see / every day as part / of one big family // where every family / member is unique / so worthy and special.” And just as straightforward as Alarcón’s uncomplicated language and style are Gonzalez’s bold, geometric illustrations rendered in watercolor, gouache, and acrylic markers. From Wednesday’s Talavera-inspired rabbit to Saturday’s Huichol-like design, the colorful double-page–spread layouts complement the poems’ simplicity. Recalling the warmth of family gatherings on the sun’s day and the joy of unstructured play on Saturn’s day, each tribute resonates with nostalgia for a time when personal interactions were done face to face.

This posthumously published bilingual collection will be welcomed by Alarcón’s many admirers. (illustrator’s note, introduction) (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-89239-275-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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