Vistas real and imagined blossom again in Stevenson and Foreman’s caring hands—but caregivers will want to choose the blooms...

A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES

A sumptuous reissue of the classic children’s collection.

First published in Great Britain in 1885, Stevenson’s “Garden,” Alexander McCall Smith tells readers in his enlightening new foreword, has been in print ever since. Given the privileged, white, colonialist perspective glimpsed in many of these 64 lyric poems, today’s audience may wonder what gives this volume such staying power. Stevenson’s nostalgia for the unfettered cares of childhood comes powerfully across throughout. Modern children may have a hard time envisioning his Victorian “Auntie’s Skirts” as “they trail behind her up the floor, / And trundle after through the door.” More problematically, his worldly vantage is shockingly dated at best: “Little Indian, Sioux or Crow, / Little frosty Eskimo, / Little Turk or Japanee, / O! don’t you wish that you were me?” But Stevenson’s ability to craft and describe other realms still soars, demonstrating that the imagination can transport one out of anything—illness, boredom, even loneliness. His crisp depictions of winter, causing “tingling thumbs,” and appreciation of the childhood hardship of having to go to bed in summer “When all the sky is clear and blue,” invite children of any age to “look / Through the windows of this book,” and “in another garden, play.”

Vistas real and imagined blossom again in Stevenson and Foreman’s caring hands—but caregivers will want to choose the blooms they share with care. (Poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-91095-910-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Otter-Barry

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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Both playful and enlightening, period.

A BUNCH OF PUNCTUATION

A collection of peppy poems and clever pictures explains different forms of punctuation.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s “A Punctuation Tale” kicks off the proceedings with a punny description of a day full of punctuation; goodnight is “cuddled / in quotation marks.” Ensuing poems discuss the comma, the apostrophe, the dash (“A subdued dude / in tweet and text / he signals what / is coming next”), the colon, the exclamation point, and ellipses. Allan Wolf’s poem about this last is called “…” and begins, “The silent ellipsis… / replaces…words missed.” Prince Redcloud’s “Question Marks” is particularly delightful, with the question “Why?” dancing diagonally down in stair steps. The emphatic answer is a repeated “Because!” Other poems pay tribute to quotation marks, the hyphen, and the period. Michele Kruger explains “The Purpose of Parentheses”: “inside a pair / ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) / of slender curves / we’ll hold your few / inserted words.” The final poem is editor Hopkins’ own, “Lines Written for You to Think About” (inspired by Carl Sandburg), urging young readers to write their own verses employing (what else?) punctuation. The 12 poets included work with a variety of devices and styles for an always-fresh feel. Bloch’s illustrations are delightfully surprising, both illustrating each poem’s key points and playfully riffing on the punctuation itself.

Both playful and enlightening, period. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59078-994-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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