Though touted as a child’s “first” poetry collection, Zolotow’s heartwarming seasonal verse charms all ages.

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A CHILD'S FIRST POETRY COLLECTION

A newly gathered collection of timeless seasonal poems originally published in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, with all-new illustrations.

At the time of her death in 2013, the legendary Zolotow had written almost as many children’s books as her 98 years. The present collection “celebrating the seasons” pairs 28 of her poems with vibrant mixed-media illustrations by Beeke. With signature clarity and lyricism, Zolotow captures the immensity of change in the natural world. They range from a spring snapshot brief and spare as “Crocus”—“Little crocus / like a cup, / holding all that sunlight up!”—to a more extended reminiscence of the comfort of being held by her mother during a “sleepless” winter’s night: “I remember that night, / with the snow / white, white, white, / and my mother’s arms around me / warm and tight.” Beeke employs color, texture and detail to realize these warm, inviting scenes and brilliantly captures Zolotow’s natural wonders, as in “Beetle,” where she effectively depicts how a Japanese beetle’s wings “glisten / like a small rainbow / in the sun!” with a delightfully iridescent smudge. The book’s only failing is in the sad preponderance of Caucasian children depicted in its pages.

Though touted as a child’s “first” poetry collection, Zolotow’s heartwarming seasonal verse charms all ages. (Picture book/poetry. 4 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4926-0168-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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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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An edge-of-your-seat read.

THE CANYON'S EDGE

A girl’s birthdays mark parallel tragedies for her broken family unit.

Last year’s celebration at a restaurant ended in an unexplained public shooting, and Nora’s mother died. She and her father are still wrestling with their trauma, Nora with a confirmed diagnosis of PTSD. For this year’s outing, Nora and her father head into the deserts of the Southwest on a rock-climbing expedition. They descend into a 40-foot deep slot canyon, then hike along inside until a flash flood barrels through the canyon, washing away all their supplies…and Nora’s father. She’s left to survive this symbolic and living nightmare on her own. Thankfully, she can make continuous use of her parents’ thorough training in desert knowledge. Brief sections of prose bracket the meat of the story, which is in verse, a choice highly effective in setting tone and emotional resonance for the heightened situation. Bowling’s poems run a gamut of forms, transforming the literal shape of the text just as the canyon walls surrounding Nora shape her trek. The voice of Nora’s therapist breaks through occasionally, providing a counterpoint perspective. Nora is White while two characters seen in memories have brown skin. The narrative also names local Native peoples. Elements of the survival story and psychological thriller combine with strong symbolism to weave a winding, focused, stunning narrative ultimately about the search for healing.

An edge-of-your-seat read. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49469-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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