COMETS, STARS, THE MOON, AND MARS

SPACE POEMS AND PAINTINGS

Stunning mixed-media illustrations accompany a series of poems that celebrate the wonder and mystery of space. From the universe, the sequence narrows its focus to the galaxy, the solar system and then each body in turn, from the sun to poor demoted Pluto, and beyond. The verse is characteristically playful, wrapping itself around astronomical facts with ease. Readers will learn about the temperature and size of the sun, our moon’s phases and Voyager 2’s discovery of Neptune’s rings. Delightful as the poems are, however, it’s this volume’s illustrations that surpass. Bright gouache on brown paper bags lend texture to each spread; stamped words allow the illustrations to incorporate such details as names of moons and “sun” in several different languages; collage elements add further whimsy to the whole. To top off this feast for the eyes, occasional die-cuts provide telescopic windows onto adjoining spreads, firmly establishing for the reader the truth that space is a vast continuum, with new surprises in every corner of the sky. Each poem receives a thumbnail gloss at the end, offering additional facts or extending the information presented earlier. Glorious. (Picture book/poetry. 7-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-15-205372-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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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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WEATHER

Remarking that ``nothing about the weather is very simple,'' Simon goes on to describe how the sun, atmosphere, earth's rotation, ground cover, altitude, pollution, and other factors influence it; briefly, he also tells how weather balloons gather information. Even for this outstanding author, it's a tough, complex topic, and he's not entirely successful in simplifying it; moreover, the import of the striking uncaptioned color photos here isn't always clear. One passage—``Cumulus clouds sometimes build up into towering masses called cumulus congestus, or swelling cumulus, which may turn into cumulonimbus clouds''—is superimposed on a blue-gray, cloud-covered landscape. But which kind of clouds are these? Another photo, in blue-black and white, shows what might be precipitation in the upper atmosphere, or rain falling on a darkened landscape, or...? Generally competent and certainly attractive, but not Simon's best. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-10546-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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