ODDHOPPER OPERA

A BUG’S GARDEN OF VERSES

Cyrus (The Mousery, 2000, etc.) promises bugs and verses, and delivers plenty of both in this ground-level view of a vegetable garden's teeming residents. Depicting every creature from beetles, flies, snails, and spiders to the occasional snake ("Through the tangle, softly gliding, / Comes a long, long tummy sliding . . . ") or bird with delicious realism, he introduces such appealing characters as a confused young frog who wonders where his tail went, Mama Pitter-Patter-Pede with her "half a hundred legs," and a squad of industrious dung beetles: “ 'Papa, O Papa Bug, what will we eat?' / 'It's gummy, it's yummy, it's dung! What a treat.' ” The poems are distinct but untitled, connected both by common characters and by such running jokes as a season-long snail race, and a string of woozy ants that bonk heads to communicate. With no sacrifice of legibility, the page design is inventive too, with poems and pictures ingeniously wrapped together and occasional lines of text snaking along stems or through ground litter. Two-legged fans of Douglas Florian's Insectlopedia (1998) and J. Patrick Lewis's The Little Buggers (1998) will scurry after this verbal and visual tour-de-force. (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202205-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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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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Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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