A lighthearted, whimsical confection that will delight both kids and their parents’ inner child.

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Root Bound

EMMA & THE ELEMENTALS: VOLUME ONE

The fate of the “Under” realm lies in the hands of an “Over” girl in this entertaining children’s adventure that winks at myths and fantasies both ancient and contemporary.

It’s bad enough that 9-year-old Emma Sheridan and her jazz musician father have moved yet again, this time into a decaying brownstone, but having a mean old witch as their neighbor and a quartet of girls bullying her at school just adds to her misery. Then a pack of helpful basement-dwelling brownies arrive, and Emma departs her unhappy situation for an adventure beneath the earth, where the brownies’ world is being destroyed. Soon, it’s Emma in Wonderland, although when this girl falls down the rabbit hole—in this case, a bedroom air vent—she lands in a world that crosses Oz with Tolkien’s Mines of Moria. Recognized as a Wanderer, the one who will save Under, Emma burrows into the earth on a quest to vanquish an evil witch and restore the graying, crumbling brownie world to its former glory. She brings along her beloved storybook, a gift from her late mother, whose presence remains as close as the cherished tome Emma clutches to her chest at all times. Gough cleverly mines that book’s legends, folk tales and Greek mythology, along with the works of Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll, to create settings and challenges that pay homage to classic children’s literature. At times, the narrative, geared for children ages 10 and up, can seem a bit derivative, but the charm is genuine and the laughs are frequent, as when the goddess Ceres first appears as a female Jabba the Hutt, attended by nymphs gone to seed. Gough also makes ample use of nonsensical rhythms and onomatopoeia to keep a lively pace, and her imagining of Under’s vast framework of roots and rocks is richly realized in earthly textures and sounds. The theme of finding one’s place in the world underlies the plot in this, the first in the four-part Emma and the Elementals series. Although magic abounds, it’s satisfying to see Emma find her identity with her own power.

A lighthearted, whimsical confection that will delight both kids and their parents’ inner child.

Pub Date: June 3, 2012

ISBN: 9780987850614

Page Count: 251

Publisher: Baba Yaga Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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A simple, heartfelt and often charming collection of religious poetry.

He Is Real

A collection of rhymed poetry inspired by the author’s Christian faith.

This is Drinnon’s first widely distributed poetry collection, following a friends-and-family printing of her last book (In HIS Care, 1998) and several appearances in poetry anthologies. The author gathers poems she wrote over a 40-year span, mostly between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s. She pairs each poem with a related Bible verse and arranges the Bible verses to look like poetry as well, with deliberate line breaks. She accompanies her poem “Wonders of the Lord,” for instance, with Genesis 9:16, which describes the rainbow Noah saw at the end of the flood, and “Communicate with the Lord” with 1 John 5:14-15, which describes prayer. Several poems (“The Beauty of a Rose,” “His Art”) reflect the author’s fascination with the natural world; in an aside, she explains that her mother, to whom she dedicated the book, taught her to love nature as a part of God’s creation. Other poems (“Our Neglect,” “The Cross Within”) address darker topics but focus on the saving power of faith. The collection concludes with the first poem the author ever wrote, which, she explains, was inspired by a phrase her mother-in-law used to express her grief. Despite the broad span of time reflected in this collection, the poems have a consistent, coherent style. All feature simple rhyme schemes, and although the meters at times seem a bit forced, it doesn’t substantially impair the collection as a whole. The basic rhymed couplets render the poems earnest and unpretentious and produce a collection with a sense of homegrown simplicity. The book will resonate most strongly with readers who share the author’s Christian faith—clearly the driving force behind these poems.

A simple, heartfelt and often charming collection of religious poetry.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1465365576

Page Count: 110

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2013

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Broadly appealing. Poetry enthusiasts will delight at Held’s formal ingenuity, while those who normally shudder and run at...

AFTER SHAKESPEARE

SELECTED SONNETS

Held, George

AFTER SHAKESPEARE: Selected Sonnets ?ervená Barva Press (86 pp.) $15.00 paperback 2011 ISBN: 978-0-9831041-9-3 (paperback)   A deft collection, tragic and whimsical, that pushes back the conceptual and formal boundaries of the sonnet.   With a conceit borrowed from the Elizabethan stage (and page), Held (Phased, 2008, etc.) opens this varied and limber compilation with a four-poem “Prologue” that works to introduce the project at hand, to prebuttally question its own merits and, finally, to defend its worth in modest terms. Demonstrating the formalist’s penchant for order, he organizes the remaining fifty-eight sonnets into three thematically and rhetorically precise divisions—“Giving Place,” “Apostrophes” and “Finding My Way”—while ranging over topics as varied as aging, the Kennedy family curse, tick-borne Lyme disease, the loss of faith, nostalgic whiffs of adolescent lust and the apocalypse. Held evokes a world delineated by violent tragedy. In “How Dad Died,” he writes of “the hole over / his right ear just beginning to crust, / his Smith & Wesson cradled on his chest”; [17] in “Chuck,” a college freshman, at the very moment of all-too-rare transcendent happiness, is decapitated in a car wreck; [62] and “Walt” is found “at 33, Colt .45 / By your outstretched hand, your head crowned by blood.” [64] His response is to decoct the most essential and powerfully defiant and fully-embodied moments, to call back to life the Walt who “at 10, in a lightning storm, / . . . . . / Faced the downpour and thunder with a scream: / “Fuck you, God! Kill me now, I double dare you!” [64] His subjects rarely go gentle, and like his own slant-rhymed, sight-rhymed, sprung-rhythm verses, their best moments come when they break the rules. This defiance shines in his paean to the painter Alice Neel: “Never one to kneel / To what the age demands, ‘This is my mien / At 80,’ you declare; ‘I have no regrets!’” [14]. A few poems would not be missed if cut, such as the pun-choked “Miss Lucid” or the weakly-developed satirical “New Fears,” but these are few and do little to affect the quality of an outstanding collection.  

Broadly appealing. Poetry enthusiasts will delight at Held’s formal ingenuity, while those who normally shudder and run at hearing the very word sonnet will question those connotations when they encounter the form reimagined and reinvigorated by Held’s lively pen. 

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-9831041-9-3

Page Count: 71

Publisher: Cervená Barva Press

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

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