Smart and sassy poems and accessible illustrations combine for an engaging, humorous package.

AFTER THE BELL RINGS

POEMS ABOUT AFTER-SCHOOL TIME

Twenty-two light poems and accompanying illustrations explore what happens after school.

Veteran author-illustrator duo Shields and Meisel team up again (Someone Used My Toothbrush and Other Bathroom Poems, 2010, etc.) to depict the full spectrum of fun to be had after school lets out. Looking at what typically happens at the end of the school day—homework, snacking, being reunited with pets, car pools, texting friends, a little instrument practice—Shields and Meisel paint a realistic portrait of how kids feel about these activities. From the opening pair of “2:48” poems, Shields quickly establishes the collection’s light, edgy tone, showing how student and teacher alike often find the last two minutes of the day “the slowest of all.” By week’s end, Shields cleverly uses end rhyme to highlight the irony to be found in a “Friday Night” sleepover: “We call it sleeping over— / That’s not exactly true. / We bring along our sleeping bags, / But sleep? Not what we do.” Throughout the volume, Meisel’s dynamic, childlike mixed-media illustrations effectively underscore the child’s perspective these poems so often provide. But occasionally Shields also shares some important advice as a former child, enlightening young readers as to the dangers of saying, “I’m bored!” to one’s parents or trying to mask unauthorized video game usage behind a beatific smile.

Smart and sassy poems and accessible illustrations combine for an engaging, humorous package. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3805-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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An unusually mixed bag.

WHAT ARE YOU GLAD ABOUT? WHAT ARE YOU MAD ABOUT?

POEMS FOR WHEN A PERSON NEEDS A POEM

The title of Viorst’s latest collection of poetry for children provides an open invitation for readers not only to ponder feelings in general, but to examine their reactions to the assembled poems as well.

Complemented by White’s free-flowing mixed-media illustrations, the light lyric pieces cover topics ranging from “School Stuff” to descriptions of the seasons, with the most memorable poems centering on personal and familial relations. The reasons “Why Cats Are Better Than My Older Sister” include (but are not limited to) the following: “They never tell you what to do. / They never ever yell at you. / They don’t think that they’re always right. / They’re prettier to look at, too.” In “New Brother,” trenchant free-verse anti–new-sibling sentiment is hilariously underscored by White’s rendering of a smiling, swaddled babe strapped to a rocket heading “To Mars.” But some stumbles make for an uneven reading experience. There are occasional grammatical lapses, as found in “Could Somebody Please Explain This to Me, Please?,” which hinges on subject-verb disagreement, and questionable messages, as offered in “Help Me!”: “Help me please with all my / Ninety-seven other chores. / Then help me make excuses / When you ask for help with yours.” Though likely made in the service of humor or adopting a child’s persona, such poetic choices might give adult readers less to be “glad” than “mad about.”

An unusually mixed bag. (Poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2355-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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The poetry and prose form more of an uneasy détente than an integrated whole, but the comical pictures and the wordplay in...

LAST LAUGHS

PREHISTORIC EPITAPHS

“Trilobites the Dust,” and so do the rest of a cast of extinct creatures in this sequel (prequel?) to Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs (2012).

In chronological order from the Paleozoic to the Cenozoic eras, dinosaurs, prehistoric reptiles, and early mammals offer memento mori in pithy verse. “Iguanodon, Alas Long Gone,” for example runs: “Iguano dawned, / Iguano dined, / Iguano done, / Iguano gone.” With similar brevity, “Plesiosaur Sticks His Neck Out” of Loch Ness and has it chopped through by a Pict (a footnote admits the anachronism), and unknown agents leave “Pterrible Pterosaur Pterminated.” In later times, a saber-toothed cat (“Tiger, tiger, hunting bright / near the tar pits, late at night”), a dire wolf, and a woolly mammoth are all depicted trapped in the gooey muck. Each poem comes with an explanatory note, and a prose afterword titled “A Little About Layers” discusses how the fossil record works. Timmins reflects this secondary informational agenda in his illustrations without taking it too seriously—providing a spade-bearded, popeyed paleontologist who resembles a spud in shape and color to usher readers through galleries of fossil remnants or fleshed-out specimens meeting their ends with shocked expressions.

The poetry and prose form more of an uneasy détente than an integrated whole, but the comical pictures and the wordplay in these dino demises provide sufficient lift. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-706-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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