Enjoyable scenarios where silliness rules.

CALL IN WELL

Nonsense verse for young readers explores a comical world.

In his debut collection, Orley imagines humorous, often absurd situations, presented in no particular order. While all the verses rhyme, the scheme varies, usually scanning well with a good rhythm. Sometimes the perspective is from a grown-up, sometimes that of a child. For example, in the title verse, an adult bemoans having to go to work, so he phones his boss to call in well. He then goes on to enjoy his day, which includes chocolate milk and cake for breakfast, taking an enjoyable walk in the park, chatting with people he meets in the city square, and expressing his joie de vivre. He’s even happy to greet a snake in the park, discovering that “The more friendly that you are to snakes, / The more friendly they [are] to you.” Though bosses and parents might disagree, readers of any age can appreciate the desire to skip responsibilities and thoroughly explore what life has to offer. Some verses offer moral reflections, as in “Dear Santa,” in which the speaker requests an extravagant list of gifts (castle, roller coaster, pet dinosaur), but finally asks “So just keep my family safe and warm, / And this will be enough.” That’s a bit pious, but the effort is more effective in “Good News,” where the speaker—upset by the news on TV—goes out to observe the neighborhood and sees much to encourage him: “A lady picking up some trash and cleaning up the street; / A little boy with his dog, feeding him a treat.” That’s a useful reminder for anyone, child or adult. But most verses simply describe absurdities, as with “Ben Backward” (every sentence is written with the word order reversed) or “My Very Own Language,” which is enjoyably Jabberwockian, including an entire stanza of nonsense: “Herpa ma vert, / Nop flock hocktoodle, / Sim sim malim, / Kicky kapoodle.” The uncredited illustrations are colorful and depict diversity but are flat and lack background detail.

Enjoyable scenarios where silliness rules.

Pub Date: July 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5462-3174-5

Page Count: 78

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

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An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and...

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THE UNDEFEATED

Past and present are quilted together in this innovative overview of black Americans’ triumphs and challenges in the United States.

Alexander’s poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson’s detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations chronicling “the unforgettable,” “the undeniable,” “the unflappable,” and “the righteous marching ones,” alongside “the unspeakable” events that shape the history of black Americans. The illustrator layers images of black creators, martyrs, athletes, and neighbors onto blank white pages, patterns pages with the bodies of slaves stolen and traded, and extends a memorial to victims of police brutality like Sandra Bland and Michael Brown past the very edges of a double-page spread. Each movement of Alexander’s poem is a tribute to the ingenuity and resilience of black people in the U.S., with textual references to the writings of Gwendolyn Brooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, and Malcolm X dotting stanzas in explicit recognition and grateful admiration. The book ends with a glossary of the figures acknowledged in the book and an afterword by the author that imprints the refrain “Black. Lives. Matter” into the collective soul of readers, encouraging them, like the cranes present throughout the book, to “keep rising.”

An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78096-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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FALLING UP

Well, finally. In this long-overdue follow-up to A Light In The Attic (1981), Silverstein once again displays the talent for wordplay and idea-play that keeps his poetry evergreen. In bumptious verse that seldom runs more than three or four stanzas, he introduces a gallery of daffy characters, including the Terrible Toy-Eating Tookle, a hamburger named James, blissfully oblivious Headphone Harold, and the so-attractive folk attending the "Rotten Convention''—"Mr. Mud and the Creepin' Crud / And the Drooler and Belchin' Bob,'' to name but a few. The humor has become more alimentary with the years, but the lively, deceptively simple art hasn't changed a bit. Its puzzled-looking young people (with an occasional monster or grimacing grown-up thrown in) provide visual punchlines and make silly situations explicit; a short ten-year-old "grows another foot''—from the top of his head—and a worried child is assured that there's no mouse in her hair (it's an elephant). Readers chortling their way through this inspired assemblage of cautionary tales, verbal hijinks, and thoughtful observations, deftly inserted, will find the temptation to read parts of it aloud irresistible. (index) (Poetry. 7+)

Pub Date: May 31, 1996

ISBN: 0-06-024802-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1996

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