Young people lucky enough to find this miraculous collection in their hands will indeed look.

THE PROPER WAY TO MEET A HEDGEHOG

AND OTHER HOW-TO POEMS

This anthology provides instruction on an eclectic sprawl of topics: walking on Mars, toasting marshmallows, telling the difference between goblins and elves, and more.

A table of contents readies readers and makes this zany collection feel orderly. “How to Build a Poem” comes first, celebrating the craft that underpins poetry and “words that hammer, / words that nail, / words that saw, / words that sail, / words that whisper, / words that wail.” Children immediately feel the pull of all the verse ahead. Contemporary poems make up the bulk of this collection, but a few poems reach across swaths of time. Robert Louis Stevenson’s brilliantly evocative “The Swing” proves how a great poem endures. Children will soar hearing, “Up in the air I go flying again, / Up in the air and down!” All of the poems offer exhilarating construction while speaking directly to children about topics young people hold close to their hearts (haircuts, riding a new bike, rules). Depicting a diverse gathering of children, these mellow painted illustrations feel at once soft and gravely, with crosshatching, textures, and lines. The engaging artwork nudges the poems into the foreground, giving them ample room to breathe. The collection closes with “How to Pay Attention,” just two lines that are almost a sacred offering. “Close this book. / Look.”

Young people lucky enough to find this miraculous collection in their hands will indeed look. (Picture book/poetry. 6-11)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8168-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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A substantive and affirming addition to any collection.

THE ABCS OF BLACK HISTORY

An impressive array of names, events, and concepts from Black history are introduced in this alphabet book for early-elementary readers.

From A for anthem (“a banner of song / that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong”) to Z for zenith (“the top of that mountain King said we would reach”), this picture book is a journey through episodes, ideas, and personalities that represent a wide range of Black experiences. Some spreads celebrate readers themselves, like B for beautiful (“I’m talking to you!”); others celebrate accomplishments, such as E for explore (Matthew Henson, Mae Jemison), or experiences, like G for the Great Migration. The rhyming verses are light on the tongue, making the reading smooth and soothing. The brightly colored, folk art–style illustrations offer vibrant scenes of historical and contemporary Black life, with common people and famous people represented in turn. Whether reading straight through and poring over each page or flipping about to look at the refreshing scenes full of brown and black faces, readers will feel pride and admiration for the resilience and achievements of Black people and a call to participate in the “unfinished…American tale.” Endnotes clarify terms and figures, and a resource list includes child-friendly books, websites, museums, and poems.

A substantive and affirming addition to any collection. (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0749-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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