THE WISHING BONE

AND OTHER POEMS

Plainly channeling Edward Lear and maybe Lewis Carroll too, Mitchell (Hans Christian Andersen’s Nightingale, illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline, 2002, etc.) offers nine rhymed ruminations, daffy episodes, and glimpses of imaginary wildlife, all illustrated, and sometimes illuminated, by Pohrt’s (The Tomb of the Boy King, 2001, etc.) small, clean-lined, delicately exact figures. In the lengthy centerpiece, an expedition in search of “The Last of the Purple Tigers” sets out from Bangalore to track down “the very rarest animal / that you could ever find. / Just three men had set eyes on her / (and two of them were blind).” In other poems, a trial for an unspecified crime ends in an acquittal thanks to a huge bribe of food, the poet has a polite conversation with the Sun, receives nonsense answers from a white rhinoceros, and a transformative blow on the head from a frog—“A light went on inside my brain: / ‘Aha!’ I cried with glee. / The world was bright and boisterous, / And I—released, rejoisterous— / Felt rounder than a pea.” Mitchell’s rhymes roll easily off the tongue, and as in the title poem, in which a weary wisher ultimately wishes away a magic bone’s ability to grant them, there’s a pervasive philosophical cast that will give thoughtful readers something to chew on. A handsomely packaged, nicely diverse gathering of words and art. (Poetry. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7636-1118-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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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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Compassionate optimism for a boy who can’t control the chaos around him.

WHAT ABOUT WILL

What can a good kid do when his big brother starts being a problem?

Twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds, who is White and Puerto Rican, wants to get noticed for the right reasons: good grades, Little League, pulling weeds for Mr. Cobb next door. Seventeen-year-old Will used to be the best brother, but now he’s so angry. He’s played football since he was a little kid and has been tackled plenty; when he gets horrifically hurt in a JV game, it’s just one too many head injuries. It’s been a year and a half since Will’s traumatic brain injury, and he’s got a hair-trigger temper. He has chronic headaches, depression, and muscle spasms that prevent him from smiling. Trace knows it’s rotten for Will, but still, why did his awesome brother have to give up all his cool friends? Now he argues with their dad, hangs out with losers—and steals Trace’s stuff. At least Trace has a friend in Catalina Sánchez, the new girl on Little League. Her dad’s a retired major leaguer, and she has sibling problems too. Observations from Trace frame Cat as praiseworthy by virtue of her not being like the other girls, a mindset that conveys misogynistic overtones. The fears of stable, straight-arrow athlete Trace are clarified in lovely sparks of concrete poetry among Hopkins’ free verse, as he learns to tell adults when he sees his beloved brother acting dangerously.

Compassionate optimism for a boy who can’t control the chaos around him. (author's note) (Verse novel. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-10864-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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