The fascinating illustrations matched with the dazzling imagery of Medina’s tanka make this a captivating release.

READ REVIEW

THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT A BLACK BOY

In elegant tanka verse, veteran poet Medina focuses the spotlight on the beauty of black boys with the help of an all-star cast of illustrators.

A premier slate of illustrators, including Kesha Bruce, Floyd Cooper, Javaka Steptoe, Ekua Holmes, and more, give the poems life. The poems “celebrate the preciousness and creativity” of black boyhood, when the author finds that “Black boys are alive with wonder and possibility / With hopes and dreams.” The collection of tanka flows through topics such as family, spirituality, self-confidence, and the stressors of working-class life. While emphasizing their universal appeal, Medina cites that these collected poems were originally inspired by photographs of the residents of Anacostia, a historically black neighborhood threatened by gentrification in the southeast section of Washington, D.C. The title has its own genealogy, emerging from Wallace Steven’s 1952 poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and Raymond Patterson’s 1969 “Twenty-Six Ways of Looking at a Black Man,” a classic of the 1960s-era Black Arts Movement. The standout introduction, “Thirteen Ways,” attunes readers to the “three dimensions” of beauty inspired by these Anacostia black boys: “Black boys be bouquets of tanka / Bunched up like flowers / They be paint blotched into a myriad of colors / Across the canvases of our hearts.”

The fascinating illustrations matched with the dazzling imagery of Medina’s tanka make this a captivating release. (Poetry. 5-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9987999-4-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Penny Candy

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE

The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more