A magnificent exploration of the poetic imagination.

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OUT OF WONDER

POEMS CELEBRATING POETS

Powerhouse poet Alexander, along with friends Colderley and Wentworth, offers a culturally rich collection of poetic tributes that extends the legacies of poets from around the globe.

With mixed-media illustrations by Caldecott honoree Holmes that are just as vibrant as the words and stories that accompany them, the anthology brings readers through a time- and world-traveling adventure of the poetic imagination. Eras, places, and cultures represented include ancient times, 20th-century, contemporary, Japan, Uganda, African-American, Native American, Latino, and white, too. This cross-cultural exploration embraces the timeless power of poetry, as Alexander’s preface makes clear, “to reach inside of you, to ignite something in you, and to change you in ways you never imagined.” The tributes to such legendary poets as Rumi, Emily Dickinson, and Maya Angelou both serve as homage, transparent in their honest gratitude for their inspiration and wisdom, and emulate their distinctive styles. “Snapshots,” Colderley’s poem celebrating Nikki Giovanni, reads in part, “poetry is…barbecue…cotton candy…purple skin beets from Daddy’s garden… / blues…the Birdland jazz club…Sunday morning gospel…chasing justice…freedom…,” capturing Giovanni’s subject matter and stylized punctuation use. This book is sure to be an educator’s lucky charm for a survey-of-poetry unit and is also a perfect entryway for families to wonder and explore together. Brief notes introduce the three sections, and thumbnail biographies of the poets celebrated are appended.

A magnificent exploration of the poetic imagination. (Picture book/poetry. 8-14)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8094-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • National Book Award Winner

BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Compassionate optimism for a boy who can’t control the chaos around him.

WHAT ABOUT WILL

What can a good kid do when his big brother starts being a problem?

Twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds, who is White and Puerto Rican, wants to get noticed for the right reasons: good grades, Little League, pulling weeds for Mr. Cobb next door. Seventeen-year-old Will used to be the best brother, but now he’s so angry. He’s played football since he was a little kid and has been tackled plenty; when he gets horrifically hurt in a JV game, it’s just one too many head injuries. It’s been a year and a half since Will’s traumatic brain injury, and he’s got a hair-trigger temper. He has chronic headaches, depression, and muscle spasms that prevent him from smiling. Trace knows it’s rotten for Will, but still, why did his awesome brother have to give up all his cool friends? Now he argues with their dad, hangs out with losers—and steals Trace’s stuff. At least Trace has a friend in Catalina Sánchez, the new girl on Little League. Her dad’s a retired major leaguer, and she has sibling problems too. Observations from Trace frame Cat as praiseworthy by virtue of her not being like the other girls, a mindset that conveys misogynistic overtones. The fears of stable, straight-arrow athlete Trace are clarified in lovely sparks of concrete poetry among Hopkins’ free verse, as he learns to tell adults when he sees his beloved brother acting dangerously.

Compassionate optimism for a boy who can’t control the chaos around him. (author's note) (Verse novel. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-10864-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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