TAN TO TAMARIND

POEMS ABOUT THE COLOR BROWN

Helping ethnic children find the beauty in themselves is the goal of Iyengar’s celebratory cycle, which venerates various hues of brown in each poem. The brown association pulls the poems together, and each begins with the same basic three-line stanza: “Brown. / Ocher brown. / Vivid orange-brown”; “Brown. / Tamarind brown. / Deep purplish-blackish brown.” Unfortunately, the poems do little to evoke feelings or establish connections. The limited vocabulary within each makes readers feel as though they are reading the same basic poem; given that the theme is obvious, the use of the word “brown” 125 times results in a metronomic uniformity, sometimes to the point of meaninglessness (just what is “rapid spruce brown”?). Akib’s illustrations do not help, as the characters lack ethnic specificity, with only some variations in dress and hair texture. The collection’s high point is the closing poem, “Brown,” which offers readers pace, variation, rhythm and emotion. Undoubtedly well-intentioned, this effort falls regrettably flat. (Picture book/poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-89239-227-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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POCKET POEMS

With an eye toward easy memorization, Katz gathers over 50 short poems from the likes of Emily Dickinson, Valerie Worth, Jack Prelutsky, and Lewis Carroll, to such anonymous gems as “The Burp”—“Pardon me for being rude. / It was not me, it was my food. / It got so lonely down below, / it just popped up to say hello.” Katz includes five of her own verses, and promotes an evident newcomer, Emily George, with four entries. Hafner surrounds every selection with fine-lined cartoons, mostly of animals and children engaged in play, reading, or other familiar activities. Amid the ranks of similar collections, this shiny-faced newcomer may not stand out—but neither will it drift to the bottom of the class. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-525-47172-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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