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

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: March 18, 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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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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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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