A book unafraid to go on beyond choo-choo.

READ REVIEW

CLACKETY TRACK

POEMS ABOUT TRAINS

A poetry book for the early-elementary train lover looking for some clever verbiage to complement the cabooses.

It’s no mean feat to conjure up an original train book for kids, but, by gum, Brown and Christoph manage it. With both old favorites (freight, steam, bullet) and some new eclectic additions (zoo train, whistle-stop tour, shoulder ballast cleaner), young train enthusiasts will have plenty here to whistle at. Thirteen poems touch on a wide range of train travel and experiences. From the quiet of the early morning train yards through the power of a train snowplow to the comfort of a sleeper car, each poem is worked in a different form of verse, paired to the type of train that fits it best. There’s certainly some sophisticated wordplay at work here, as in “Electric Train”: “Power from the wire. / Pantograph required. / Cabled Line of Fire. / Tethered Train Flyer.” Don’t know the word “pantograph”? The “Train Facts” tucked in at the back of the book offer further information that is bound to be adored by expository-nonfiction readers. Digital art reveals a multiracial array of train enthusiasts, in both historical and present-day views. The overall package is a beautiful gift for locomotive lovers.

A book unafraid to go on beyond choo-choo. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9047-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Useful, if not vital, for a back-to-school collection and good for reading aloud.

SCHOOL PEOPLE

Poems about school staff aim to reassure anxious young students.

Prolific anthologist Hopkins encourages his audience with a series of poems describing school personnel, from the bus driver and crossing guard to the librarian and sympathetic nurse. He opens with the building’s welcome—“I am waiting—come on in!”—from Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Most adults are described from a child’s point of view. Matt Forrest Esenwine’s bus driver has a “good-morning smile.” In Michele Krueger’s art teacher’s room, “my imagination soars.” Irene Latham’s music teacher makes us “walk in music like morning rain.” Shi’s digital illustrations show students of varying ethnicities and a staff diverse in age and gender though not so much in race. They add significant details. The white custodian smilingly feeds a guinea pig; the brown-skinned, male librarian wears groovy shades. A small dog follows the children who walk to school and is waiting for its owner, a little brown-skinned child, at the end of the day. This surprisingly even collection includes short poems by 14 different authors including the compiler. These are mostly free verse, with two exceptions. The rhyming couplets Darren Sardelli uses to describe the custodian come as a pleasing change of pace. Alma Flor Ada takes advantage of the rhyming sounds of Spanish to celebrate learning that will “spice up / a world / twice as flavorful.”

Useful, if not vital, for a back-to-school collection and good for reading aloud. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62979-703-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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The creators’ matter-of-fact embrace of inclusion is the highlight of an otherwise uneven poetry collection.

I'M THE BIG ONE NOW!

POEMS ABOUT GROWING UP

Award-winning poet Singer explores the stumbles and triumphs that go hand in hand as preschoolers become big kids.

From a three-part poem that appears in three different sections to two poems for two voices, these 19 poems encapsulate the myriad experiences of a diverse cast of grade schoolers. Just as the featured accomplishments span a wide range of “firsts,” so do Singer’s observations span a variety of poetic forms and rhyming schemes. Free verse intermingles with snappy quatrains, and introspection mingles with shouts of joy. “We figure it out! / We let out a hoot. / We find in the doghouse / a big bag of loot!” at a “First Big-Kid Party.” However, the quality of these snapshots does not reflect the poet's previous noteworthy efforts. “Not big enough / to drive a car / (or my bike real far), / to grow a beard / (plus I’d look weird), / to stay up late / (like way past eight), / to own a phone… / But plenty big / to take a bus / without a fuss / and go to school / ALONE!” just doesn’t have her usual zing. Christy’s watercolor images capture gap-toothed grins and snaggle-brow frowns with equal aplomb. A hijab-wearing mother in a theater is pictured next to a ballpark scene featuring a baseball cap–wearing young lady.

The creators’ matter-of-fact embrace of inclusion is the highlight of an otherwise uneven poetry collection. (Picture book/poetry. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62979-169-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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