A thrilling integration of verse and image, motivating all to serious fun.

A STICK IS AN EXCELLENT THING

POEMS CELEBRATING OUTDOOR PLAY

Turning the adage that sticks and stones may break one’s bones on its ear, picture-book titans Singer and Pham team up to entice young readers to go where most Generation Xbox angels fear to tread: outside.

Here Singer presents the full spectrum of outdoor activities in rhymed poems consummately animated by Pham's vibrant drawings. No matter the diversion—playing with the dog, balancing on the curb, running through a sprinkler, making stone soup with friends—Singer’s entreaty to get out and play is unmistakable. While many of the snappy lyrics show off the pleasures of moving—“Everything’s a blast / when you do it really fast!”concludes a piece extolling the virtues of running, puddle-jumping and skateboarding—a real strength of the collection is its engagement of the imagination. For example, in the title piece, what an ordinary stick in the hand can become—a royal scepter, pen, magic wand, drumstick—is limited only by its holder’s creativity. Pham’s evocative artwork heightens the imagination’s importance in play, with her digitally colored pencil-and-ink renderings so finely textured that they radiate a warmth as arresting as Ezra Jack Keats’.

A thrilling integration of verse and image, motivating all to serious fun. (Picture book/poetry. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-12493-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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A sweet and quiet homage to friendship, nature, and the power of words and poetry.

POETREE

A little girl enjoys writing poems and gets an unexpected surprise when she writes a poem and gives it to a tree, making “the world more splendid."

Sylvia marks the end of winter with a poem about springtime. After reading it to a squirrel, she ties it to a tree (“hoping that it didn’t count as littering”). When she passes the tree on her way to school the next day, she finds a surprise—another poem on the tree. “She never imagined the tree might write back.” Sylvia continues to write poems to the tree and waits to find the next poem. When she realizes a teasing classmate, Walt, is the author of the other poems, she is sad: “Had the tree she loved so much not given her a thing?” Not too unsurprisingly, the two poets become friends, harmoniously trading rhymes beneath the tree that has brought them together. Using precise, intelligent prose, Reynolds captures moments of a child’s innocence: “ ‘So what’s your name?’ Sylvia asked the tree. But the tree stood in silence. ‘Are you shy like me?’ The tree nodded in the breeze. Sylvia understood.” Maydani’s delicate, pencil-and-watercolor paintings, suffused with spring pastels, affectionately invest Sylvia (who has brown skin), Walt (who presents white), and even the tree with personality.

A sweet and quiet homage to friendship, nature, and the power of words and poetry. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-53912-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A poem about the pandemic with vivid illustrations and a strong environmental message.

AND THE PEOPLE STAYED HOME

During a period of quarantine, people discover new ways to live—and new lessons about how to care for the planet—in this debut picture book.

In this work’s poem, O’Meara describes lockdowns experienced by many across the world during the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning with the title phrase, the author discusses quiet activities of solitude and togetherness as well as more boisterous ways of interacting. These times of being apart give people a new perspective, and when they reunite, “they grieved their losses, / and made new choices” to restore the planet. The spare verse allows the illustrations by Di Cristofaro and Pereda to take center stage. The colorful, slightly abstract cartoons depict a rainbow of people and pets, many of them living in apartments but some residing in larger, greener spaces. Images of nature healing show the author’s vision of hope for the future. While this was written in March and originally published as an online poem, the lack of an explicit mention of the reason behind the lockdowns (and the omission of the experiences of essential workers) could offer readers an opportunity to imagine a planetary healing beyond the pandemic that inspired the piece. The accessible prose and beautiful images make this a natural selection for young readers, but older ones may appreciate the work’s deeper meaning.

A poem about the pandemic with vivid illustrations and a strong environmental message.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73476-178-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tra Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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