The poet’s definitely up on his Star Wars canon, and readers had better be, too, to keep pace.



The author of The Empire Striketh Back (2014) tries his hand at light verse.

For all that he experiments with a villanelle, a shaped poem, and other forms, overall Doescher keeps to a rolling beat as he spins out a hefty 79 poems thick with names, places, and references to events in the films and other media. “G is for Greedo, that green guy’s the worst! / H is for Han (who, with no doubt, shot first).” One poem addresses race directly (“Jeff has Poe-colored skin, / While Joseph’s more like Finn”), and another wishes that, whatever’s going on in a galaxy far, far away, “Star Peace” would come to this one. In rather odd contrast, “If I were a stormtrooper,” writes a child, “I’d practice my aim anytime there’s a break / (So I wouldn’t miss every shot that I make”). Nevertheless, in general the verses’ actual subjects tend toward conventional domestic matters, from the titular bedtime verse, which begins “I wish I had a Wookiee, / To keep the monsters out,” to little Mackenzie Hale, who “would not eat her kale.” Budgen’s ink, wash, and occasionally color scenes of licensed characters or of smiling, racially diverse children, often in costume or with licensed toys, are likewise benign. Like a celebrity tell-all, the collection is capped by an index of, mostly, characters and creatures.

The poet’s definitely up on his Star Wars canon, and readers had better be, too, to keep pace. (Poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59474-962-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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“He called on me. / My answer’s wrong. / Caught like a squirrel / on an open lawn. / Standing alone, / twiddling my paws, / frozen in place, / working my jaws. / I’d like to bolt, / but where? / I moan. / Could anyone / be more / alone?” Poet, educator and storyteller Holbrook returns with a collection of 41 poems about school worries and classroom problems. Here readers find substitutes and pop quizzes, bullies and homework storms. Nearly half of the poems have appeared in previous collections, but here the white space around each poem is filled with poetry facts, definitions and challenges to get young poets writing. Some entries are more successful than others; a few have odd rhymes, others a jangle in the rhythm. The title, too, is quite misleading: There is only one zombie poem. However, the subjects will resonate, and the hints and tips will excite young writers whether they currently love poetry or not. Sandstrom’s serviceable pen, ink and faded watercolor spot illustrations are as hit-and-miss as the poems. This is good classroom poetry, though, if not verse for the ages. (Poetry. 9-11)



Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-820-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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Child readers and educators will find themselves enthralled by short, punchy poems and the science behind them.


The amazing antics of amphibian acrobats unfurl.

Bulion and Meganck (Superlative Birds, 2019, etc.) again combine their literary and artistic wits (and scientific knowledge) to create a completely satisfying package for young people who want to learn about frogs (toads are classified with frogs), salamanders, and caecilians. Bulion not only appeals to their interest in poetics, but encourages kids to “Get Your Boots Wet!” It’s impossible not to warm to herpetology after reading aloud poems with lines about star-fingered toads like: “Her skin grows pockets, capped with lids, / to shield her embryonic kids, / whose tails shrink as they sprout four legs, / no tadpoles hatch—they stay in eggs, / ’til star-shaped toe and pointy snout / poke through Mom’s skin…pop, pop they’re out!” Meganck’s wry cartoons amplify the humor. The backmatter, strong as the main text, serves young readers well but will also spur teachers interested in multidisciplinary units on to new heights, serving as a model for many subjects. The poetry notes will provide lots of fodder for adults who want to introduce poetry in a systematic way, discussing both familiar forms and more esoteric poetry types, such as kyrielle and Skeltonic verse. The backmatter also includes a map (unlabeled) and a combined key to endangered status and relative size but no index.

Child readers and educators will find themselves enthralled by short, punchy poems and the science behind them. (glossary, resources) (Informational picture book/poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-098-3

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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