BIRDS ON A WIRE

A RENGA ’ROUND TOWN

Nostalgic images and low-key observations characterize this collaboration. The authors preface their work with a brief definition of the probably unfamiliar form called renga. A traditional Japanese verse form, renga can be simply translated as “linked verse,” though the rules governing its creation are apparently considerably more complicated. In this case, Lewis and Janeczko took turns writing five-line verses that take readers on both a temporal and physical journey. From the banks of a country creek through a series of encounters among small-town citizens, to the eponymous birds, the poems illuminate a single day. Realistic paintings in muted colors show the world from a variety of perspectives and help readers find connections between verses that follow one another as well as those that appear farther apart. Even with these visual cues, young listeners may need some assistance following the flow (and they may find the generally old-fashioned feel a bit off-putting). Once they grasp the concept, however, it seems likely that they would enjoy following the poets’ advice and trying their own hands at renga. (Poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59078-383-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

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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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HONEY, I LOVE

Iffy art cramps this 25th-anniversary reissue of the joyful title poem from Greenfield’s first collection (1978), illustrated by the Dillons. As timeless as ever, the poem celebrates everything a child loves, from kissing Mama’s warm, soft arm to listening to a cousin from the South, “ ’cause every word he says / just kind of slides out of his mouth.” “I love a lot of things / a whole lot of things,” the narrator concludes, “And honey, / I love ME, too.” The African-American child in the pictures sports an updated hairstyle and a big, infectious grin—but even younger viewers will notice that the spray of cool water that supposedly “stings my stomach” isn’t aimed there, and that a comforter on the child’s bed changes patterns between pages. More problematic, though, is a dropped doll that suddenly acquires a horrified expression that makes it look disturbingly like a live baby, and the cutesy winged fairy that hovers over the sleeping child in the final scene. The poem deserves better. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009123-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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