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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Tender to tongue-in-cheek, a broad showcase for a versatile writer.



A compact gathering of new verse on diverse topics, from a British poet born in Jamaica.

Within thematic groupings, Bloom writes of children newly born or bored (“Family and Friends”), of erupting volcanoes (“Our World”), of extinct animals (“Animals”), and of dreams (“Unbelievable?”). In the family section, a child muses on her parents, who are apparently at odds: “They say that they’ll always / Love me forever. / I only wish / They could love me together.” Another section, titled “Fun With Forms,” offers samples of an elfje and of skeltonic verse among more familiar constructions—but, alas, there is no explication of these. Though her casual approach to rhyming and metrics does result in some stumbles (“Once I held inside my palms / the curviness of a bow, / and listened in the cornfield / to the sadness of a scarecrow”), the selections offer a range of moods and some choice wordplay to boot, like this from “Praying Mantis”: “Before a meal, what it will say / Is not ‘Bless this food’ but ‘Let us prey’.” The child on the cover and many of the human figures in the illustrations that accompany nearly every poem are people of color. Outside of anthologies, very little of the veteran poet’s work has made it to the States, so count this for most U.S. readers an unjustly tardy introduction.

Tender to tongue-in-cheek, a broad showcase for a versatile writer. (Poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-91307-467-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Otter-Barry

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Striking photographs of birds that might be seen in the eastern United States illustrate this new collection of 14 poems in varied forms. From bald eagle to marbled godwit, the range is wide. It includes familiar feeder birds like chickadees, birds of ponds and shores like wood ducks, hooded mergansers and sandpipers, as well as less-common birds like the great horned owl, rufous-sided towhee and cedar waxwings. Semple's splendid photographs show birds in the wild—flying, perched in trees or on slender reeds, running along the sand and even bunched on a boardwalk. The colors are true, and the details sharp; careful focus and composition make the birds the center of attention. Yolen’s poems comment on these birds’ appearances and their curious actions. An eastern kingbird is "a ninja of the air," and “...oystercatchers, unafraid, / Continue on their stiff parade.” The mockingbird’s “Threesome Haiku” matches his triple repetition of the tune he mocks. Some of the poetry limps, making an easy point rather than enlarging the reader’s understanding, but some is memorable. Perhaps most effective is the rhythmic “Terns Galore”: "Turning terns are all returning / There upon the shore." Short sidebars add interesting, informative details about each species and Donald Kroodsma, a well-known ornithologist, has added a short foreword. This is a welcome companion to A Mirror to Nature and An Egret’s Day (both 2009). (Informational poetry. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59078-830-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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