An intimidating poem lovingly interpreted.

A LITTLE CALLED PAULINE

A story illustrated around a selection from Stein’s 1914 poetry collection, Tender Buttons.

How, exactly, does one visually interpret Stein?? “I hope she has her cow” lends itself to a clear-enough image. And lines like “Nearer in fairy sea, nearer and farther” are obviously evocative. But what of “If it is absurd then it is leadish” or “little leading mention nothing?” Illustrator Stone takes words by the famed experimental poet and lets her imagination lead her to a story about “a little girl named Pauline who lives with her mom in a house on stilts by the sea.” This interpretation is as good as any other, and Stone’s loose-limbed, crudely emotional, brightly washed illustrations do a lot to create a mystifying yet comforting world where a young white girl named Pauline, her mother, and their multiracial group of friends prepare for a party that ends with Pauline paddling out to sea. Stein isn’t for everyone, of course, so there’s no use asking that this interpretation be widely accessible or appealing, but it works, somehow, nonetheless. Less successful and more patronizing is the afterword, in which Stone explains that Stein “liked to use sentences in new ways that looked different than other people’s. Why not try saying something silly while saying something serious? she must have thought.” Must she have?

An intimidating poem lovingly interpreted. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9996584-9-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penny Candy

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A tour de force of interactive two-dimensional nature.

IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY

From the Brown Bear Wood series

Four seasons’ worth of poetic exploration into the bustling woods.

Piercey presents here 16 poems containing tightly rhymed quatrains inviting young readers to follow Bear out of the confines of their homes and into the forest from spring through winter. Arranged in double-page spreads, Hartas’ sumptuously action-packed forest scenes are rife with so much fauna and flora that Piercey provides legends pointing readers toward “what to spot” on each spread. Bear narrates: “My woodland’s full of animals, / of every different kind. / So shall we stay here for a while / and see what we can find?” (A bit distractingly, some words are set in a faux handwriting typeface.) Items to find include such delights as a “baby chipmunk in a hammock” or “two birds returning from their winter break”—delicately drawn with tiny suitcases in their claws. In each kid-styled Breughel-like tableau, creatures are busy doing something—building nests, getting ready for school, or celebrating Bunny’s birthday; even Bear’s off playing hide-and-seek with mice. In summer, some go for swimming lessons while others stage a play. Autumn’s chill starts to wind down the fun, as trees turn “orange, scarlet, gold, / each leaf a tongue of flame”—perfect for inspiring art class. In Hartas’ gifted hands, Piercey’s thriving woodland society celebrates all the joys of communing with the elements and one another. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 29.9% of actual size.)

A tour de force of interactive two-dimensional nature. (nature notes, further resources) (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5158-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Magic Cat

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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In a word, a feast for the eyes, brain, and artistic imagination.

THE WORDY BOOK

Words and pictures connect in surprising, stimulating ways.

Talk about painting with words. Author/illustrator Paschkis plays with them, too, and encourages readers to do likewise. In the process, she explores the elasticity and seemingly endless possibilities of language. The vividly colored, wittily detailed, folk-style paintings on double-page spreads organically incorporate words into the artwork in wondrous, creative ways. Words frequently repeat in different sizes and colors; illustrated images include words that sound or are shaped like them, are variations of them, rhyme or nearly rhyme with them, sort of resemble them, are sort of spelled like them, etc. A bouquet of flowers in a vase sports roses exuding the scents of slumber, sultry, shush, and other evocative words beginning with S; on a daisy’s petals readers find dizzy, doozy, lazy, jazzy; lief, leap, life, and more decorate the leaves. Delightful words—many of which readers won’t know, and that’s OK—flex vocabulary and spelling muscles to the max and also enhance readers’ visual and auditory senses when the pictures are taken in. Furthermore, the spreads are connected to thought-provoking questions. Some inspired the paintings, or vice versa, and themselves contain examples of wordplay. Persons depicted have diverse skin tones. The book makes a great springboard for creative-thinking activities in writing and art units in classroom and library programs. Keep dictionaries handy. Endpapers abound with swirling words readers can savor (and look up).

In a word, a feast for the eyes, brain, and artistic imagination. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-353-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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