SOUNDS OF RAIN

POEMS OF THE AMAZON

Despite its good ideas, this poetic tribute to the great rain forest falls flat. The poems tend to be clunky—unrhymed but also lacking rhythm and structure—and are hard to read aloud, a mortal sin for poetry. “The Girls,” a poem that refers to zebra swallowtail butterflies, sounds patronizing: “Lazy morning, no agenda, / hanging with the sisters, / showing off their jewels, / sipping water ladylike / through a straw.” Other poems simply lack imagination: “There is no word big enough / to hold rain forest rain.” That said, the poetry is actually better than the pictures: The design of the volume incorporates what look like Polaroid shots as well as full-page, full-bleed photographs. The latter are more successful, but the photos of water, sky and wildlife rarely seem specific to the Amazon; they could be almost anywhere and are usually somewhat out of focus or too limited to capture the poem’s message. Some of the poems are printed on reproductions of paper torn from a spiral-bound notebook; slapped onto a photographic page that sometimes also holds a snapshot, it’s supposed to look like a scrapbook but instead it just hides whatever is behind it. (Poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-59078-442-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

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A poor performance, “[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE

Like the old man’s hose, Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” speech is “a world too wide” to be well-served by this paltry selection of 21 poems, three per “age.”

Hopkins tries to inject some color into the mix with Walt Whitman’s “When I heard the learn’d astronomer,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee?” and Lewis Carroll’s “You are old, father William.” Unfortunately, these, combined with passages from the speech itself, only make his other choices look anemic. To the “infant, / Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms,” for instance, Rebecca Kai Dotlich offers a bland “Amazing, your face. / Amazing”; on the facing page, a “traditional Nigerian lullaby” is stripped of music: “Sleep my baby near to me. / Lu lu lu lu lu lu.” Along with Joan Bransfield Graham’s “A Soldier’s Letter to a Newborn Daughter,” which ends with a condescending “I’m coming home / to my girls… / With All My Love, / DAD,” most of the rest are cast in prosaic free verse. Hopkins’ “Curtain,” probably written for this collection, closes the set with theatrical imagery. Billout supplies pale, distant views of small figures and some surreal elements in largely empty settings—appropriate, considering the poetry, but they lack either appeal for young audiences or any evocation of the Shakespearean lines’ vigorous language and snarky tone.

A poor performance, “[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (introduction, indexes) (Poetry. 8-11, adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56846-218-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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AN EGRET’S DAY

Poetry and short informative paragraphs combine to celebrate both the elegance and the natural history of the American egret. Haiku, free verse, rhyming couplets and even a limerick are just some of the forms Yolen masterfully uses to engage readers on both aesthetic and scientific levels. Gorgeous photography completes this carefully designed literary science piece with scenes of the egret’s daily life. Stemple captures the egret’s movements as the light of each part of the day, from the yellow-orange glow of sunrise to midday pink to late afternoon sunset blue to evening purple, is reflected on its snow-white feathers. Both the poetry and the brief fact-filled vignettes explain how egrets walk, eat, fly and preen and how their plumes, so lace-like, were once coveted for decorating clothes and hats. A final poem muses on the future of this great wading bird in a country filled with polluted wetlands. A stunning combination of scientific and ecological knowledge offered through a graceful fusion of lyrical and visual media. (Informational picture book/poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-650-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2009

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