VOICES

POETRY AND ART FROM AROUND THE WORLD

“Our garden / doesn’t spread out very far, it’s a little affair / in which we won’t lose each other. / For you and me it’s enough.” Though hung on a geographical framework, with a section for each inhabited continent, this generous array of short poems, gathered from dozens of countries, covers a universe of topics, as do the accompanying folk- and fine-art illustrations. The selections are mostly free verse, mostly less than a century old, and although the work of many translators, form a harmonious chorus, whether the poet is singing to the sun-as-warrior (“The fearful night sinks / trembling into the depth / before your lightning eye . . .”) or chasing a wind-blown bagel down the street, mourning a lost child, or joyfully exclaiming, “my stomach / shouts with hunger / when I smell / the delicious / tortillas.” The art, too, forms a seamless tapestry, despite diverse visions and styles, so that a lush Diego Rivera scene shares a spread nicely with a riotously colored Aztec bas-relief, a piece of kente cloth with an ancient bust of Nefertiti. The poetry is all reprinted, and there is seldom information about poets or artists beyond country of origin and dates, but this handsome, readable collection outdoes even Kenneth Koch’s and Kate Farrell’s Talking to the Sun (1985) in demonstrating the unity beneath the diversity of human artistic vision. (credits, index) (Poetry/art. 8+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7922-7071-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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An intimate novel that beautifully confronts grief and loss.

RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE

It’s 1983, and 13-year-old Indian American Reha feels caught between two worlds.

Monday through Friday, she goes to a school where she stands out for not being White but where she has a weekday best friend, Rachel, and does English projects with potential crush Pete. On the weekends, she’s with her other best friend, Sunita (Sunny for short), at gatherings hosted by her Indian community. Reha feels frustrated that her parents refuse to acknowledge her Americanness and insist on raising her with Indian values and habits. Then, on the night of the middle school dance, her mother is admitted to the hospital, and Reha’s world is split in two again: this time, between hospital and home. Suddenly she must learn not just how to be both Indian and American, but also how to live with her mother’s leukemia diagnosis. The sections dealing with Reha’s immigrant identity rely on oft-told themes about the overprotectiveness of immigrant parents and lack the nuance found in later pages. Reha’s story of her evolving relationships with her parents, however, feels layered and real, and the scenes in which Reha must grapple with the possible loss of a parent are beautifully and sensitively rendered. The sophistication of the text makes it a valuable and thought-provoking read even for those older than the protagonist.

An intimate novel that beautifully confronts grief and loss. (Verse novel. 11-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304742-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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