MOON, HAVE YOU MET MY MOTHER?

Here are anthologized some 309 pages worth of poems from one of children’s literature’s most well-established poets. Arranged thematically, the collection moves chapter by chapter from consideration of dogs, cats, and other animals, to the seasons, to contemplation of the self, and finally to the moon of the title. Kuskin (The Animals and the Ark, 2002, etc.) has been recognized for her sense of rhythm and her ability to fine-tune a poem for the youngest audiences; indeed, many of these poems appeared in Harper’s “I Can Read” books for beginning readers. When she is at her best, she can form, very simply, an image that will allow a reader to see what is being described in new ways: “There is a bed / inside my head / and when the day is long / I curl within / my outside skin / and sing myself a song.” Unfortunately, the encyclopedic nature of this collection results in an inevitable feeling of sameness about many of these poems; the poet’s frequent habit of undercutting a poem in its coda—“Dear shell, / you curve extremely well / . . . / Dear shell, / you also smell”—repeated over and over loses its freshness and becomes nothing but a cute device. Despite the thematic arrangement, one gets the sense that many of these poems, which when originally published bore some relationship of form to one another (there are a great number of riddle-poems, for instance, here scattered among the others, as well as the very simple verses for beginning readers), were simply dumped in with little regard for how they relate to their neighbors in this new incarnation. Kuskin’s verse is best when presented intimately, to specific audiences; this mammoth collection makes what can be delightful in small servings cloying and tiresome when biggie-sized. Ruzzier’s (Don’t Know Much About Space, not reviewed, etc.) cartoons are fanciful but occasionally rather grotesque—they do not noticeably contribute to the success of the volume, but neither do they materially detract. For those who want it all in one place. (Poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-027173-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ALL THE COLORS OF THE EARTH

This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

VISITING LANGSTON

A little girl is going with her daddy to visit the home of Langston Hughes. She too is a poet who writes about the loves of her life—her mommy and daddy, hip-hop, hopscotch, and double-dutch, but decidedly not kissing games. Langston is her inspiration because his poems make her “dreams run wild.” In simple, joyful verse Perdomo tells of this “Harlem girl” from “Harlem world” whose loving, supportive father tells her she is “Langston’s genius child.” The author’s own admiration for Hughes’s artistry and accomplishments is clearly felt in the voice of this glorious child. Langston’s spirit is a gentle presence throughout the description of his East 127th Street home and his method of composing his poetry sitting by the window. The presentation is stunning. Each section of the poem is part of a two-page spread. Text, in yellow, white, or black, is placed either within the illustrations or in large blocks of color along side them. The last page of text is a compilation of titles of Hughes’s poems printed in shades of gray in a myriad of fonts. Collier’s (Martin’s Big Words, 2001, etc.) brilliantly complex watercolor-and-collage illustrations provide the perfect visual complement to the work. From the glowing vitality of the little girl, to the vivid scenes of jazz-age Harlem, to the compelling portrait of Langston at work, to the reverential peak into Langston’s home, the viewer’s eye is constantly drawn to intriguing bits and pieces while never losing the sense of the whole. In this year of Langston Hughes’s centennial, this work does him great honor. (Poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6744-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more