Some spry and inspired grave humor here, but weighed equally with some unimaginative efforts.

LAST LAUGHS

ANIMAL EPITAPHS

Cracked epitaphs from Lewis and Yolen.

This is a collection of 30 tombstone remembrances with an eye for the emphatically stamped exit visa. Ushered along by Timmins’ smoky, gothic artwork—and sometimes over-reliant upon it for effect—these last laughs take on a variety of moods. Sometimes they are gruesome, as with the newt, “so small, / so fine, / so squashed / beneath / the crossing / sign.” There are the macabre and the simply passing: “In his pond, / he peacefully soaked, / then, ever so quietly / croaked.” Goodbye frog—haplessly, hopelessly adrift in the olivy murk, a lily flower as witness and X's for eyes. When writers and artist are in balance, as they are here, or when the Canada goose gets cooked on the high-tension wires, the pages create a world unto themselves, beguiling and sad. It works with the decrepitude of the eel and the spookiness of the piranha’s undoing. But there are also times when the text end of the equation lets the side down. “Firefly’s Last Flight: Lights out.” Or the last of a wizened stag: “Win some. / Lose some. / Venison.” Or the swan’s last note: “A simple song. / It wasn’t long.” In these cases, brevity is not the soul of wit, but lost chances at poking a finger in the eye of the Reaper.

Some spry and inspired grave humor here, but weighed equally with some unimaginative efforts. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-260-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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OTHER GOOSE

RE-NURSERIED AND RE-RHYMED CHILDREN'S CLASSICS

“Little boy blue / come blow your tuba. / The sheep are in Venice, / and the cow’s in Aruba.” Pairing frenetic and garishly colored art to familiar rhymes in “more modern, more fresh, and well…more Goosian” versions, Seibold stakes out Stinky Cheese Man territory to introduce “Jack and Jill / and a pickle named Bill,” the Old Woman Who Lived in a Sneaker (“She had a great big stereo speaker”), Peter Pumpkin Pickle Pepper and about two dozen more “re-nurseried” figures. Against patterned or spray-painted backgrounds, an entire page of umbrella-carrying raindrops float down, a bunch of mice run up (“the clock struck one; / the rest had fun”), cats fiddle for Old King Coal and others, Jack B. Nimble makes a lifelong career out of demonstrating his one trick and a closing rendition of the counting rhyme “One, Two, I Lost My Shoe” is transformed into a clever reprise as many of the characters return to take final bows. Sparkles on the cover; chuckles (despite some lame rhyming) throughout. (Fractured nursery rhymes. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6882-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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An uplifting feline tale with bumpy rhymes; well suited for families looking for Nativity stories.

JORDAN, THE CHRISTMAS KITTEN

A kitten dreams of being part of the original Christmas story in this rhyming picture book.

A kitten named Jordan lives with his brothers, sisters, and aunt in a small town in a valley. As Christmas Eve approaches, the kittens have hung their mittens, hoping for gifts from Santa Claws. Jordan can’t sleep, wondering about the best present he’ll get, but when he finally dozes off, he dreams of being present at the birth of Jesus. Snuggling with the Christ child, Jordan watches others give gifts and worries that he has nothing to contribute until Mary assures him: “Your gift was your purr, / Your adornment for my babe, / and the warmth of your fur.” When Jordan wakes, he realizes that the best gift isn’t a thing; it’s a small kindness given out of love. This sweet message is likely to appeal to young churchgoers who celebrate the religious parts of Christmas. The small, uncredited, traditional illustrations feature friendly-looking felines done in a childlike style. The diverse humans are shown as shapes rather than detailed figures, much like the pieces in a Nativity scene. Terrell’s rhyme scheme changes regularly, with the patterns varying in the different stanzas, which can make the scansion hard to follow. The accessible vocabulary, with only a few difficult words (crocheted, sublime), makes the poetry accessible to independent readers, especially those already familiar with the Christmas story.

An uplifting feline tale with bumpy rhymes; well suited for families looking for Nativity stories.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-973690-82-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2021

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