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



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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See, hear, touch, taste, smell...and imagine poetry all around you.


A neighborhood walk unleashes the power of poetry.

Kiyoshi, a boy of Japanese heritage, watches his poet grandfather, Eto, write a poem in calligraphy. Intrigued, Kiyoshi asks, “Where do poems come from?” So begins a meditative walk through their bustling neighborhood, in which Kiyoshi discovers how to use his senses, his power of observation, and his imagination to build a poem. After each scene, Eto jots down a quick poem that serves as both a creative activity and an instruction for Kiyoshi. Eventually Kiyoshi discovers his own poetic voice, and together the boy and his grandfather find poems all around them. Spare, precise prose is coupled with the haiku Kiyoshi and his grandfather create, building the story through each new scene to expand Kiyoshi’s understanding of the origin of poems. Sensory language, such as flicked, whooshed, peeked, and reeled, not only builds readers’ vocabulary, but also models the vitality and precision of creative writing. The illustrations are just as thoughtfully crafted. Precisely rendered, the artwork is soft, warm, and captivating, offering vastly different perspectives and diverse characters who make up an apparently North American neighborhood that feels both familiar and new for a boy discovering how to view the world the way a poet does. Earth tones, coupled with bright yellows, pinks, and greens, draw readers in and encourage them to linger over each spread. An author’s note provides additional information about haiku.

See, hear, touch, taste, smell...and imagine poetry all around you. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62014-958-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Readers may wish that Talk Like a Pirate Day lasted all year long.


This book could serve as a recruiting drive for pirates, mostly because of the hair.

Pirate hair, in Riddell’s illustrations, is glorious. It’s powder blue, or it’s peaked like twin mountains or forms crests like waves in the ocean. More important, the pirates have joyous, irresistible smiles. But the two children who find themselves babysat by these benign buccaneers are still suspicious. The pirates in this picture book don’t follow the rules of ordinary seagoers. When they make their titular stew, the ingredients include “a Jolly Roger” and “half a sack of gold doubloons.” If you eat it, they say, “You’ll become a pirate too!” The artwork also blithely veers from the text. Gaiman says that the chief pirate has gray hair, but in Riddell’s delicately lined cartoons his beard is a bright, cheerful blue, proving that no one should ever trust pirates or artists or children’s-book authors. But it’s hard to be afraid of buccaneers who shout things like “Toodle-pip!” The crew is diverse enough—in wardrobe and in racial presentation—that almost any reader can feel welcome. The children have brown skin and come from an interracial family, with a White mother and a Black father. The rhythm of the rhyming text is instantly catchy, though it’s so dense that a word and its rhyme occasionally become separated when the layout places them on different pages. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-15-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Readers may wish that Talk Like a Pirate Day lasted all year long. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293457-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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