THE CANTILEVER RAINBOW

It was off-beat off Broadway first and it comes as a surprise to find these poem-plays and happenings being listed by the publishers at the 11 to 13 age level. But it's really not such a shocking surprise, after all. There is exceptional humor here, different and fresh, visual and vital. You also have to run to get with it, and kids do manage to run better than adults. When there was a Greenwich Village vogue for this sort of production, part of the pleasure in attending was to hear the comments of the more earnest, intense members of the audience. Some of them were desperate to locate an exact, profound revelation of cosmic truth. That attitude seems as deadly as its obverse, which would dismiss the whole undertaking without recognizing its ability to entertain, stir the mind to puzzlement and finally, to influence art. Here's an example of the sort of poem play that drives commentators to take extreme positions in praise or blame: A Beautiful Day. "Girl: What a beautiful day! The Sun falls down onto the stage. End." The woodcuts of Antonio Frasconi lend a strong, happy support and follow the sun theme of the poems. The audience doesn't wait, it's in the process of being formed and the book's greatest use among youngsters will probably come from talented teachers. It should also find its way to what seems to us the most logical appreciative readership—college students with a taste and curiosity for the avant garde.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1965

ISBN: 0394910532

Page Count: -

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1965

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PLANTING A RAINBOW

LAP-SIZED BOARD BOOK

From the artist who created last year's shoutingly vivid Growing Vegetable Soup, a companion volume about raising a flower garden. "Mom and I" plant bulbs (even rhizomes), choose seeds, buy seedlings, and altogether grow about 20 species. Unlike the vegetables, whose juxtaposed colors were almost painfully bright, the flowers make a splendidly gaudy array, first taken together and then interestingly grouped by color—the pages vary in size here so that colored strips down the right-hand side combine to make a broad rainbow. Bold, stylish, and indubitably inspired by real flowers, there is still (as with its predecessor) a link missing between these illustrations with their large, solid areas of color and the real experience of a garden. The stylized forms are almost more abstractions than representations (and why is the daisy yellow?). There is also little sense of the relative times for growing and blooming—everything seems to come almost at once. Perhaps the trouble is that Ehlert has captured all the color of the garden, but not its subtle gradations or the light, the space, the air, and the continual movement and change.

Pub Date: March 21, 1988

ISBN: 0152063048

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988

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A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist.

HOW TO WRITE A STORY

This follow-up to How To Read a Story (2005) shows a child going through the steps of creating a story, from choosing an idea through sharing with friends.

A young black child lies in a grassy field writing in a journal, working on “Step 1 / Search for an Idea— / a shiny one.” During a walk to the library, various ideas float in colorful thought bubbles, with exclamation points: “playing soccer! / dogs!” Inside the library, less-distinct ideas, expressed as shapes and pictures, with question marks, float about as the writer collects ideas to choose from. The young writer must then choose a setting, a main character, and a problem for that protagonist. Plotting, writing with detail, and revising are described in child-friendly terms and shown visually, in the form of lists and notes on faux pieces of paper. Finally, the writer sits in the same field, in a new season, sharing the story with friends. The illustrations feature the child’s writing and drawing as well as images of imagined events from the book in progress bursting off the page. The child’s main character is an adventurous mermaid who looks just like the child, complete with afro-puff pigtails, representing an affirming message about writing oneself into the world. The child’s family, depicted as black, moves in the background of the setting, which is also populated by a multiracial cast.

A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5666-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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