FRANKENSTEIN TAKES THE CAKE

A snort-inducing companion to 2006’s Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, Rex’s return to horror-poetry finds the green-skinned monster getting ready for his wedding, complete with a comic-strip visit to his future mother-in-law (“I’m not trying to be mean, but I never thought my little girl would be marrying someone green”) and best man Dracula encountering garlic bread at the buffet. In between, Edgar Allan Poe struggles repeatedly to find a rhyme scheme, the Headless Horseman blogs about the difficulties of using a pumpkin for a head and a quartet of haiku celebrates Japanese monster cinema (“A winter wager: / Will Godzilla’s tongue freeze to / Mechagodzilla?”). It’s a dizzying pastiche of artistic and poetic styles that includes an advertisement for witch diet products (“...with only one bucket of water a day!”) and a faux-Peanuts Sunday strip featuring a Charlie Brown–like Dracula Jr. Some of the humor will resonate more with adults than kids, but there’s something in here for just about everyone—even a grouchy raven. (Picture book/poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-206235-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

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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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DINOSAURS GALORE!

A dozen familiar dinosaurs introduce themselves in verse in this uninspired, if colorful, new animal gallery from the authors of Commotion in the Ocean (2000). Smiling, usually toothily, and sporting an array of diamonds, lightning bolts, spikes and tiger stripes, the garishly colored dinosaurs make an eye-catching show, but their comments seldom measure up to their appearance: “I’m a swimming reptile, / I dive down in the sea. / And when I spot a yummy squid, / I eat it up with glee!” (“Ichthyosaurus”) Next to the likes of Kevin Crotty’s Dinosongs (2000), illustrated by Kurt Vargo, or Jack Prelutsky’s classic Tyrannosaurus Was A Beast (1988), illustrated by Arnold Lobel, there’s not much here to roar about. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58925-044-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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