VACATION

WE’RE GOING TO THE OCEAN

In this slim volume of rather bland poetry, Harrison introduces readers to a boy named Sam and takes them along on his family vacation. Written from Sam’s point of view, the poems cover a wide range of subjects—including getting lost, a stop at an art museum, a fast-food excursion, staying over at a relative’s house and camping—but the majority of them are devoted to the family’s visit to the beach. For instance, in one of the cleverer selections, “Sunburn,” Mommy warns the kids about getting burnt before taking matters into her own hands; she “lathers on / enough / lotion / to leave rings / around / the ocean.” The volume ends with a predictable final poem called “Home at Last!” and the less-than-memorable lines, “Home at last! I’m glad we’re here / but I can’t wait / until next year!” Shepperson’s cartoon-like illustrations add a bit of pizzazz to the collection but not enough to raise it above mediocre. Try Mike Thaler’s Pig Little (2006) for a wittier day at the poetic beach. (Poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59078-568-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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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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