Safe, mostly conservative choices in an expansive gathering, with dazzling visuals.

THE POETRY OF US

MORE THAN 200 POEMS THAT CELEBRATE THE PEOPLE, PLACES, AND PASSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES

Some 200-plus short poems about U.S. places, people, and events are superimposed on big, bright landscape and other photographs.

Notwithstanding Lewis’ grandiose claim that these “chiseled words and fabulous photos” present “the underside, backside, inside, and other side of America,” the general tone is blandly celebratory, with only occasional, mild dissension. Robert Frost’s paternalistic “The Gift Outright” (“The land was ours before we were the land’s”) is paired, for instance with Carole Boston Weatherford’s protest litany “Power to the People” (“You Are On Stolen Land”); and Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” appears, rather obviously, side by side with Langston Hughes’ “I, too, sing America.” The poetry largely steers clear of abstractions, violent imagery, or even, aside from a strongly rhythmic final chant by Leigh Lewis, declamatory slam or hip-hop language. Topics range from natural wonders to local festivals, regional food, salutes to celebrities including John Wayne and Willie Nelson, elegies for Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin, sports, religious observances, and statements of ethnic or national identity. Nods to the diversity of American voices include frequent entries by immigrant and minority writers as well as poems in Spanish, Arabic, and Korean with accompanying translations into English by, usually, the poets themselves. The photos, gorgeous as they are, largely serve a decorative function as only a handful bear identifying captions.

Safe, mostly conservative choices in an expansive gathering, with dazzling visuals. (bibliography, indexes) (Poetry. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3185-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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AT THE SEA FLOOR CAFÉ

ODD OCEAN CRITTER POEMS

From snapping shrimp with bubble-shooting claws to the Osedax worm that digests whalebones on the ocean floor, intriguing and unusual sea creatures are introduced in this collection of 18 engaging poems written in a variety of forms. A paragraph or two of identification and explanation follow each poem. This attractive small volume is illustrated with hand-colored linoleum block prints set on a blue-green background that darkens page by page as the reader descends. “Dive In!” introduces the habitat, and, on the last page, “Hooray for the Sea and the ROV” celebrates the ocean and the vehicles humans use to explore its deepest parts. One piece calls for two voices, a leopard sea cucumber and an emperor shrimp. Shape poems introduce the violet snail and a swarm of krill. These poems lend themselves to reading aloud, and many are short and catchy enough to be easily memorized. Concluding with a helpful glossary, a clear explanation of the poetic forms that points out rhymes, patterns and beats, suggested further resources and acknowledgements, this is an ideal title for cross-curricular connections. This gathering of humorous poetry and fascinating facts should be welcomed as a companion to Bulion and Evans’ previous collaboration, Hey There, Stink Bug! (2006)—even the surprise among the school of krill on the endpapers will make readers smile. (Informational poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56145-565-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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Put it back to bed, it’s underslept.

AT THE HEIGHT OF THE MOON

A BOOK OF BEDTIME POETRY AND ART

The poetry of bedtime in words and images.

Divided into six sections that examine various aspects of sleep (“Dreamland,” “Mind Ablaze,” and “Creepy Crawlies and Things That Go Bump in the Night,” for instance), this anthology pairs a variety of topical poems with a curated group of famous paintings meant to capture the moods expressed by the poets. It’s an exciting idea, especially as poetry is often incorrectly perceived as serious and intimidating. Sadly, though, the result of this curation is a Eurocentric period piece that reinforces more stereotypes about poetry than it dismantles. Practically every artist represented is White (Utagawa Hiroshige, represented by two works, is a lonely exception), and every human face depicted, except those in Karl Friedrcih Christian Welsch’s Crossing the Desert at Sunset, is White. There is equally scant diversity among the poets. Children should be exposed to poetry and artwork, but when every major museum in the free world is engaged in conversations about equality, representation, and inclusivity, this book isn’t going to open any doors or advance any conversations. This is a title destined to collect dust in a gift shop—not to engage readers looking to learn more about art and its various forms of expression. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Put it back to bed, it’s underslept. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-3-7913-7480-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Prestel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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