A book unafraid to go on beyond choo-choo.

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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Suitable for displays of the staid, matter-of-fact sort.

VEHICLES

From the Pop-Up Guide series

From skateboards to space probes, a pop-up panorama of ways to get around.

Each of the 10 tableaux in this French import gathers a thematically unified fleet of vehicles, beginning with buses, cars, utility trucks, commuter trains, and bicycles arrayed in a spacious urban scene. They take readers along to a construction site, a traffic accident (with no visible casualties), a busy highway, a race scene, a crowded waterway, and finally into the sky and beyond. Everywhere except outer space human figures are visible, and Picard casts them as diverse in both age and race. The pop-ups are just two-dimensional cutouts without flaps or moving parts, but the openings are arranged horizontally to make the terraced scenes display well. Poulain adds brief commentary that is as generic as the vehicles themselves (“Marine vehicles are specially built to travel in water”), but both they and the background images are labeled, along with various elements in the settings, from “bale of hay” and “tires” to “Earth” and “Mars.” Some of the scenes have logical integrity, such as the construction site and the accident. At the latter, a variety of expected vehicles converge after a car rams an apartment building. Others are composites, as with the race that seems to involve a Formula One racer, a go-cart, two different kinds of bicycles, an ATV, and a bobsled.

Suitable for displays of the staid, matter-of-fact sort. (Informational pop-up picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 979-1-02760-999-4

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Ambitious but flawed.

MEAL OF THE STARS

POEMS UP AND DOWN

Jensen’s debut yields 15 skinny poems, 10 of which are meant to be read from bottom to top.

The untitled poems’ subjects range from the lofty—stars and rockets—to the mundane—a winter jacket’s zipper, a ladybug’s hike up a dandelion stem. Each line consists of just one word. Neither punctuation nor capitalization appears, rendering natural breaks tricky to discern. A waterfall poem reads “roaring / crashing / sparkling / and / white / oh / what / a / thunder / heaving / its / mighty / heart / the / waterfall / splashes / out / its / lovely / blue / music / on / the / slippery / rocks / below.” Poems soar, as in one about a kite, but they can also fall a bit flat, without rising from reportage to evocative engagement. Tusa’s quirky watercolor-and-ink illustrations invite browsing; black-and-white vignettes alternate with full-color pages. Rather than visually extending the poems, the pictures seem catapulted beyond them: A simple verse narrating an elevator ride appears against a double-page spread showing the narrator in a penthouse with a rooftop pool, a deck with a swing and a bike, an open-air bedroom and fruit trees. The choice to depict successive children throughout rather than to visually capture a consistent narrator seems a missed opportunity in a title that could have profited from more cohesion.

Ambitious but flawed. (Picture book/poetry. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-39007-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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