COOL MELONS--TURN TO FROGS!

THE LIFE AND POEMS OF ISSA

Gollub (Uncle Snake, 1996, etc.) translates 33 of Issa's more than 20,000 haiku, intersperses them through a short biography, and caps it all with an explanation of some of the poems' less obvious images. With the Japanese originals running decoratively along their margins, Stone's appealing formal paintings illustrate the poems literally: children in traditional dress stand with their mouths up and open as "Mouth-watering snowflakes fall/lightly, lightly,/heaven's snack," and green melons in a basket do "turn to frogs!/If people come near." Gollub explains that the haiku are not presented chronologically, so any connections between them and specific incidents in Issa's troubled life are speculative. Nevertheless, readers will get a glimpse of the poet's extraordinary range of subject and feeling, as well as cogent instruction in how to read and understand these deceptively simple verses. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1998

ISBN: 1-880000-71-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY

This fervent but sketchy tribute to the world’s best known living athlete gives young readers stylized, spray-painted views of a comic book–style superhero with hugely exaggerated muscles and, generally, an open mouth, paired to eye-glazing captions. “As a boy, he struggled to make his way in the segregated world of the PRE-CIVIL RIGHTS SOUTH.” Shange makes a case for dubbing Ali a “hero for all time,” but aside from a later quote of the subtitle, she mentions his way with rhyme only as a boy, and ends her account of his boxing career with 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle,” seven years before his last fight. The appended chronology addresses that lack, but skips from 1981 to 1996, and refers to his Parkinson’s Disease without explaining what it is—or its probable cause. Next to the strong prose and evocative art of Walter Dean Myers’s Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins (2000), or the grandeur of Doreen Rappaport’s Martin’s Big Words, illustrated by Brian Collier (2001), this portrait of a widely admired African-American comes off as more strident than inspirational. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7868-0554-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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OTHER GOOSE

RE-NURSERIED AND RE-RHYMED CHILDREN'S CLASSICS

“Little boy blue / come blow your tuba. / The sheep are in Venice, / and the cow’s in Aruba.” Pairing frenetic and garishly colored art to familiar rhymes in “more modern, more fresh, and well…more Goosian” versions, Seibold stakes out Stinky Cheese Man territory to introduce “Jack and Jill / and a pickle named Bill,” the Old Woman Who Lived in a Sneaker (“She had a great big stereo speaker”), Peter Pumpkin Pickle Pepper and about two dozen more “re-nurseried” figures. Against patterned or spray-painted backgrounds, an entire page of umbrella-carrying raindrops float down, a bunch of mice run up (“the clock struck one; / the rest had fun”), cats fiddle for Old King Coal and others, Jack B. Nimble makes a lifelong career out of demonstrating his one trick and a closing rendition of the counting rhyme “One, Two, I Lost My Shoe” is transformed into a clever reprise as many of the characters return to take final bows. Sparkles on the cover; chuckles (despite some lame rhyming) throughout. (Fractured nursery rhymes. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6882-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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