AN OLD SHELL

POEMS OF THE GALÁPAGOS

Spun from a 1995 visit, these 34 short poems are largely meditations on the wildlife of the Gal†pagos Islands and their past: after a long voyage, a rice rat arrives on a tangle of floating vines, a tall flamingo “drinks from its/cool green reflection,” a Sally Lightfoot crab comes “skibbling over the sand/in/delicate/dressage,” and Darwin’s ship, The Beagle, harbinger of so much destructive change, returns, ghostly, to bob like a shell in the offshore mist. Using a variety of verse forms and rhyme schemes, Johnston conveys her visions and observations in easy, everyday language; Pohrt’s drawings capture a sense of the locale’s isolation in depictions of a single creature clambering over flotsam, or small stretches of rocky coastline. This is a quiet, low-key celebration of a remote, endangered natural community. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 1999

ISBN: 0-374-35648-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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THE BUG IN TEACHER'S COFFEE

AND OTHER SCHOOL POEMS

PLB 0-06-027940-0 Dakos’s collection of 23 poems from the perspective of items found at school satisfies the I Can Read requirements of simplicity and word repetition, but may not lure beginning readers back for a second time. The material is uninspiring: The school’s front door says, “Keep me shut,/I have the flu,/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Keep me shut,/I have the flu.” A book sings “Happy Birthday” to a ruler, then sings “Happy Unbirthday” when the ruler says that it is not its birthday. Also appearing are a couple of clever items—one on a kidnapped pencil and another on a comb pulling hazardous duty—along with some typographic elements that amiably convey the idea that words are malleable; Reed’s illustrations possess geniality and character, making some inanimate objects very personable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-027939-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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ISN'T MY NAME MAGICAL?

SISTER AND BROTHER POEMS

Leaving behind much of the lyricism found in his previous collections, Berry (First Palm Trees, 1997, etc.) pens poems in the voices of a sister, Dreena (who has the magical name), and brother, Delroy, on their experiences in the family with a dour sister, mother (“A teacher, Mom has lots of pens/and home and school jobs”), and father, who “drives a train,/sometimes in a heavy jacket.” This father is not really poem-material: “And, sometimes, Dad brings us gifts./Sometimes, he plays our piano.” The brother, Delroy, who tenders three autobiographical poems, can’t sit still and can’t stop talking about it. There is a good declarative poem, about a strong friendship he shares with another boy. Otherwise, he is dancing like a madman (“doing body-break and body-pop”) or skateboarding under the influence of a fevered imagination (“I want one owl on each my shoulder/hooting out as I leap each river”). In her first book, Hehenberger takes a literal route, anchoring every poem in domestic scenes of family and friends; the deep colors and finely sculpted forms become set pieces for Berry’s earthbound images. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-80013-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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