STAMPEDE

POEMS TO CELEBRATE THE WILD SIDE OF SCHOOL

No food fights or bullying here; it’s not that kind of wild. But these children have some behavioral characteristics that can be likened to animals’ habits. One child tucks his face into his sweater, turtlelike, to avoid answering a question. The monkey king swings on the jungle gym and the new student is a bewildered mouse in a maze. While several of Salas’s very simple verses are sharp and clever, too many are flawed, either by tenuous child-animal connections or, in some cases, by stretching the theme to the breaking point. There is also a problem of repetition: Three poems about crowds of children in the schoolyard variously compare them to swarming bees, flocks of sparrows and stampeding elephants. Salerno’s digitally enhanced gouache illustrations are bright and spirited, but only a few succeed in complementing the poems. Instead there seems to be a level of discomfort in handling the material, as if they’re not quite sure how to balance the appearance of the child as animal. Uneven and disappointing. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-618-91488-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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HONEY, I LOVE

Iffy art cramps this 25th-anniversary reissue of the joyful title poem from Greenfield’s first collection (1978), illustrated by the Dillons. As timeless as ever, the poem celebrates everything a child loves, from kissing Mama’s warm, soft arm to listening to a cousin from the South, “ ’cause every word he says / just kind of slides out of his mouth.” “I love a lot of things / a whole lot of things,” the narrator concludes, “And honey, / I love ME, too.” The African-American child in the pictures sports an updated hairstyle and a big, infectious grin—but even younger viewers will notice that the spray of cool water that supposedly “stings my stomach” isn’t aimed there, and that a comforter on the child’s bed changes patterns between pages. More problematic, though, is a dropped doll that suddenly acquires a horrified expression that makes it look disturbingly like a live baby, and the cutesy winged fairy that hovers over the sleeping child in the final scene. The poem deserves better. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009123-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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TRACES

What leaves bubbles of water and air on a lily pond? What leaves a path across the sand to the sea? What leaves shadows on the ground? The “wattled” and “warty” bullfrog creates bubbles on the lily pond. The turtle drags its way across the sand to the sea. Children playing follow the leader cast shadows on the ground. These questions and more are raised and answered in this quiet exploration of the traces different creatures and things leave as they pass on their way. The fox leaves its trace in a wooded glade. The snake leaves its trace in the tall wild grass. A jet airplane leaves its own trace across the sky. Even prehistoric dinosaurs and the wind leave unique marks on nature. Kuskin’s watercolor-and-collage illustrations brilliantly follow bubbles, tails, footprints and shadows across double-page spreads tracking clues left by the not-quite invisible passage of someone or something. A fascinating look at an overlooked part of nature. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-932425-43-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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