AWFUL OGRE’S AWFUL DAY

In 18 poems, grisly enough to delight the taste for the macabre in any child, Prelutsky takes the Awful Ogre through his predictably awful day. From early rising to evening rest, everything that is grotesque is Ogre’s idea of grand . . . breakfast of “ghoul on toast,” a beloved ogress with greasy green tresses, a garden of well-sharpened thorns and poisonous plants, a precious collection of bones. The rhymes are wickedly rich in vocabulary (his weeds are scrofulous) and wordplay (at TV time, Ogre adores “The Chopping Channel”), and the scansion rarely goes wrong. As depicted gleefully by Prelutsky and Zelinsky, this ogre is a huge, lovable innocent who is unaware of any offense he might give. He seems not to notice that his left nostril houses a skunk. Happily, the illustrations are as blissfully unfettered by the demands of good taste as the poems. They command repeated and close scrutiny, containing ironic humor never mentioned in the text (the limbs on the fire have feet and most of Ogre’s household appointments are satisfyingly monstrous). Far different from the painterly style we associate with the Caldecott-winning Zelinsky, his looser style reveals a surprisingly fiendish sense of humor with only the formal borders to remind you of his other renowned works. Of course, even the borders are filled with various forms of unpleasantness. Programmers, let yourselves go, this is a dramatic reader’s delight and you’ll find your listeners in your lap, not trembling with fear but with laughter, and clamoring to get a closer look at the illustrations. A bad day has never been a better romp. (Poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-07778-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001

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VISITING LANGSTON

A little girl is going with her daddy to visit the home of Langston Hughes. She too is a poet who writes about the loves of her life—her mommy and daddy, hip-hop, hopscotch, and double-dutch, but decidedly not kissing games. Langston is her inspiration because his poems make her “dreams run wild.” In simple, joyful verse Perdomo tells of this “Harlem girl” from “Harlem world” whose loving, supportive father tells her she is “Langston’s genius child.” The author’s own admiration for Hughes’s artistry and accomplishments is clearly felt in the voice of this glorious child. Langston’s spirit is a gentle presence throughout the description of his East 127th Street home and his method of composing his poetry sitting by the window. The presentation is stunning. Each section of the poem is part of a two-page spread. Text, in yellow, white, or black, is placed either within the illustrations or in large blocks of color along side them. The last page of text is a compilation of titles of Hughes’s poems printed in shades of gray in a myriad of fonts. Collier’s (Martin’s Big Words, 2001, etc.) brilliantly complex watercolor-and-collage illustrations provide the perfect visual complement to the work. From the glowing vitality of the little girl, to the vivid scenes of jazz-age Harlem, to the compelling portrait of Langston at work, to the reverential peak into Langston’s home, the viewer’s eye is constantly drawn to intriguing bits and pieces while never losing the sense of the whole. In this year of Langston Hughes’s centennial, this work does him great honor. (Poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6744-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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DINOSAURS GALORE!

A dozen familiar dinosaurs introduce themselves in verse in this uninspired, if colorful, new animal gallery from the authors of Commotion in the Ocean (2000). Smiling, usually toothily, and sporting an array of diamonds, lightning bolts, spikes and tiger stripes, the garishly colored dinosaurs make an eye-catching show, but their comments seldom measure up to their appearance: “I’m a swimming reptile, / I dive down in the sea. / And when I spot a yummy squid, / I eat it up with glee!” (“Ichthyosaurus”) Next to the likes of Kevin Crotty’s Dinosongs (2000), illustrated by Kurt Vargo, or Jack Prelutsky’s classic Tyrannosaurus Was A Beast (1988), illustrated by Arnold Lobel, there’s not much here to roar about. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58925-044-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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