New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single...

HOW TO READ A BOOK

A linguistic and visual feast awaits in Alexander and Sweet’s debut collaboration.

If the mechanics of deciphering words on a page is a well-covered topic, the orchestration of finding magic between pages is an art emphasized but unexplained…until now. First things are first: “find a tree—a black tupelo or dawn redwood will do—and plant yourself.” Once settled, take the book in hand and “dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and pop the words out…[then] // Squeeze every morsel of each plump line until the last drop of magic / drips from the infinite sky.” Reading, captured here in both content and form, is hailed as the unassailably individual, creative act it is. The prosody and rhythm and multimodal sensuousness of Alexander’s poetic text is made playfully material in Sweet’s mixed-media collage-and-watercolor illustrations. Not only does the book explain how to read, but it also demonstrates the elegant and emotive chaos awaiting readers in an intricate partnership of text and image. Despite the engaging physicality of gatefolds and almost three-dimensional spreads, readers with lower contrast sensitivity or readers less experienced at differentiating shapes and letters may initially find some of the more complex collage spreads difficult to parse. Children depicted are typically kraft-paper brown.

New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single step . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-230781-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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See, hear, touch, taste, smell...and imagine poetry all around you.

KIYOSHI'S WALK

A neighborhood walk unleashes the power of poetry.

Kiyoshi, a boy of Japanese heritage, watches his poet grandfather, Eto, write a poem in calligraphy. Intrigued, Kiyoshi asks, “Where do poems come from?” So begins a meditative walk through their bustling neighborhood, in which Kiyoshi discovers how to use his senses, his power of observation, and his imagination to build a poem. After each scene, Eto jots down a quick poem that serves as both a creative activity and an instruction for Kiyoshi. Eventually Kiyoshi discovers his own poetic voice, and together the boy and his grandfather find poems all around them. Spare, precise prose is coupled with the haiku Kiyoshi and his grandfather create, building the story through each new scene to expand Kiyoshi’s understanding of the origin of poems. Sensory language, such as flicked, whooshed, peeked, and reeled, not only builds readers’ vocabulary, but also models the vitality and precision of creative writing. The illustrations are just as thoughtfully crafted. Precisely rendered, the artwork is soft, warm, and captivating, offering vastly different perspectives and diverse characters who make up an apparently North American neighborhood that feels both familiar and new for a boy discovering how to view the world the way a poet does. Earth tones, coupled with bright yellows, pinks, and greens, draw readers in and encourage them to linger over each spread. An author’s note provides additional information about haiku.

See, hear, touch, taste, smell...and imagine poetry all around you. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62014-958-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it...

FEAR THE BUNNY

A tiger can’t believe it’s being upstaged in this picture-book riff on William Blake’s famous poem.

A group of zoologically diverse animals huddle around a fire, listening to a porcupine read from a chilling poem: “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, / in the forests of the night—.” An incredulous tiger interrupts, saying that the poem is actually about it. But a squirrel matter-of-factly states that “Here, it’s ‘bunnies, bunnies.’ ” The tiger still doesn’t understand why the animals would be so afraid of bunnies but not afraid of tigers and tries to explain why it, an apex predator, is far more threatening. The smaller animals remain unimpressed, calmly telling the tiger that “In this forest, we fear the bunny” and that it should “Hide now, before it’s too late.” An amusing and well-done premise slightly disappoints at the climax, with the tiger streaking away in terror before a horde of headlamp-wearing bunnies, but eager readers never learn what, exactly, the bunnies would do if they caught up. But at the end, a group of tigers joins the other animals in their awestruck reading of the adapted Blake poem, included in full at the end. Cute, fuzzy illustrations contrast nicely with the dark tone and forest background.

A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it overcomes a weak conclusion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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