This collection will encourage several giggle-filled read-throughs.

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A HATFUL OF DRAGONS

AND MORE THAN 13.8 BILLION OTHER FUNNY POEMS

A loopily meta collection of silly, interactive poetry.

Madan’s collection of rhymed verse lives up to its subtitle thanks to a poem with 12 numbered blanks and 12 lists of seven words or phrases each to insert, mix-and-match style, in those blanks…that equals seven-to-the-12th-power possible poems! You do the math. (All 13 billion rhyme.) The fun starts in the illustrations even before the poetry does, with characters that recur throughout the book. A mummy pops up on the copyright page, for instance, and is then seen running in the distance in one illustration and watching a movie in another before finally showing up in its own poem: “Mummy wrapped in / Hoary cloths— / Scrumptious feast for / Hungry moths.” On the page with the table of contents, a bespectacled, bearded white man peers out of a rock and keeps peeping in but doesn’t introduce himself until the end, when he is revealed to be “Professor Dobbleydook, / Inventor of the Page Machine, / Which lets me travel through this book / To spy on any page or scene.” The interrelations continue, as does the foolishness. There is a “cracked-concrete” poem (some of the words have fallen to the bottom of the page), a rebus chant composed entirely of pictures of Australian animals, and some poems in comic strips. The cast appears to be of many races and species.

This collection will encourage several giggle-filled read-throughs. (Poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-150-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Both playful and enlightening, period.

A BUNCH OF PUNCTUATION

A collection of peppy poems and clever pictures explains different forms of punctuation.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s “A Punctuation Tale” kicks off the proceedings with a punny description of a day full of punctuation; goodnight is “cuddled / in quotation marks.” Ensuing poems discuss the comma, the apostrophe, the dash (“A subdued dude / in tweet and text / he signals what / is coming next”), the colon, the exclamation point, and ellipses. Allan Wolf’s poem about this last is called “…” and begins, “The silent ellipsis… / replaces…words missed.” Prince Redcloud’s “Question Marks” is particularly delightful, with the question “Why?” dancing diagonally down in stair steps. The emphatic answer is a repeated “Because!” Other poems pay tribute to quotation marks, the hyphen, and the period. Michele Kruger explains “The Purpose of Parentheses”: “inside a pair / ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) / of slender curves / we’ll hold your few / inserted words.” The final poem is editor Hopkins’ own, “Lines Written for You to Think About” (inspired by Carl Sandburg), urging young readers to write their own verses employing (what else?) punctuation. The 12 poets included work with a variety of devices and styles for an always-fresh feel. Bloch’s illustrations are delightfully surprising, both illustrating each poem’s key points and playfully riffing on the punctuation itself.

Both playful and enlightening, period. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59078-994-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Readers who take silliness seriously are well-advised to “sit back and sample this humble compendium. / Begin in the middle...

UP VERSES DOWN

POEMS, PAINTINGS, AND SERIOUS NONSENSE

Fifty-odd (with and without the hyphen) new poems from a nabob of nonsense, with appropriate artplay to go with the wordplay.

“NASA has a bakery. / A spaceship in disguise. / Everybody talks about its meteoric ryes.” In between an “Intro” and an “Outro” promoting the notion that nonsense is serious business and offering pointers for readers eager to get started creating their own, Brown arranges examples cast in a variety of meters and rhyme schemes. The tone varies too, as along with clever own-sake exercises in language and lexicography (from “Borscht”: “This poem is the worscht. / The rhymes are forscht”) are verses on family ties and friendships, a “New Technique” for getting to sleep when sheep-counting palls, fretting over “Stingy” behavior, and ruminations on dust “Motes” passing in and out of sunbeams. The last is delivered by a woman in hijab, and throughout the naively stylized illustrations, human figures are likewise cast with an evident eye to diversity—even if bodies are sometimes those of insects and skin comes in gray or green as well as more likely hues. Birds surrounding the title poem carry banners welcoming all poetry readers and writers in inclusive terms: “Not ‘of a feather’ / But we flock together / Forever united / All are invited!”

Readers who take silliness seriously are well-advised to “sit back and sample this humble compendium. / Begin in the middle or go back from the endium.” (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9929-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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