SILLY HORSE

Fourteen short, surreal poems originally published in Russian over 35 years ago see their first English versions, paired to dark, scratchy paintings featuring angular people and farm animals in countrified dress. The titular horse, depicted as a fastidious prancer with spots and a stylish perm, leads the way: “A horse has four shoes with black rubber soles, / Two of them new, but the others have holes. / If the weather is fair, no rain in the news, / The horse likes to wear her best pair of shoes.” Elsewhere, a couple crack nuts with their telescope and throw the shells off their roof, a curious cow confronts a stubborn turkey hauling a locked trunk, green “Mr. Croakley” rather ominously vanishes after “Mr. Quackley” passes by and a child yearns for a pet elephant. Some readers may be amused by the fitfully rhymed verses’ quirkiness, but this sampler is best considered a curiosity, for deeper collections. (Poetry. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-9646010-1-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pumpkin House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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FOOTPRINTS ON THE ROOF

POEMS ABOUT THE EARTH

Nineteen poems, some rhymed, are paired with So’s (Countdown to Spring, p. 50, etc.) ink drawings. The poems are sometimes dry and sometimes didactic, but most are straightforward and occasionally giddy. So’s art is by turns whimsical, wild, or reticent. The title comes from “Burrows” a poem about the creatures that live under the “roof” of the earth: rabbits, foxes, snakes. The image of a dragon under the volcano in “Dormant Dragons” is beautifully realized as So turns wash and squiggle into the beast. “Winter Solstice” connects a wintry day in America with the first day of summer in Australia most charmingly. In “Go-Betweens”: “They issue warnings / They offer praise / This is trees’ work / and they do it with such uncomplaining grace / it never seems like work at all.” A swath of soft ink and a perfectly rendered rose reflect the turning of the year in “Summer Solstice”—“The richest garden / the greenest trees / will have a different form / wearing withered leaves like memories / of days when it was warm.” Esbensen’s venerable Cold Stars and Fireflies (1984) makes a nice accompaniment. (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81094-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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