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Imagination stretchers, likely to appeal most to introspective readers fond of finding unexpected pairings and connections.

Free-verse meditations, mostly on rural and country subjects, with atmospheric illustrations.

Mingling their unsigned entries, Kooser and Wanek use similar language and cadences to write of marshmallows on a blue plate (“They’re partly cloudy!”), a harpist on a stage playing “a great golden moth,” tadpoles as punctuation marks, a book as a sandwich with “a few words of mustard introducing / the chewy salami of history,” and like transformations of familiar, or at least recognizable, sights. The tone is generally solemn, though glints of humor shine through—“One summer day I was boiled and salted / like a peanut. I was the meat / in a heat sandwich, the dog in a hot”—and the sensibility is so attuned to outdoors and country experiences that the one real miss here is a wry remark about city people never getting to step in a cow pie. (No, in cities it’ll come from a dog.) In the accompanying paintings, Jones incorporates images from each poem into subdued landscapes or domestic settings…often to lovely effect, as in one scene of brown ponies amid birches on a snowy hillside and another of sinuous, nearly bare trees with intimately interwoven branches. A child on the cover has brown skin; the rest of the rare human figures either appear light-skinned or face away from the viewer.

Imagination stretchers, likely to appeal most to introspective readers fond of finding unexpected pairings and connections. (dual afterwords) (Illustrated poetry. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0303-5

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Personal but personable, too, with glints of quiet humor.

In a wryly introspective vein, a cartoonist offers a four-season round of illustrated observations on topics as varied as clouds, school, and the search for a perfect pumpkin.

“I want to put down / on paper the feeling / of fresh possibilities,” Snider writes in his “Spring” section. With reflections on the tricky art of writing poems serving as a thematic refrain, he goes on in a seasonal cycle to explorations of nature (“How do the birds / decide where / to alight?”), indoor activities (“In wool socks on thick carpet / I am MR. ELECTRIC”), and common experiences, from loading up a gigantic backpack with new books for the first day of school to waiting…and waiting…and waiting for a bus in the rain. He also invites readers to consider broad ideas, such as the rewards of practicing and the notion that failure can lead to the realization that “I’m still a work in progress.” Snider writes mostly in free verse but does break into rhyme now and then for the odd sonic grace note. Though he identifies only one entry as an actual haiku, his tersely expressed thoughts evoke that form throughout. His art is commensurately spare, with depictions of slender, dot-eyed, olive-skinned figures, generally solitary and of indeterminate age, posing balletically in, mostly, squared-off sequential panels making up mini-narratives of one to three pages.

Personal but personable, too, with glints of quiet humor. (Graphic poetry. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9781797219653

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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