THE KITCHEN TALKS

The inanimate denizens of the kitchen nab the limelight in this somewhat uneven, amusingly illustrated collection of 20 short poems. Much of the verse employs personification—the refrigerator, pot holder and rolling pin drolly narrate their own poems. In others, the narrative voice becomes oddly anonymous, as in the two-line poem “Freezer”: “Cold as ice / But no goose bumps.” Tired initial simile aside, the question of goose bumps seems an odd introduction in a collection focused on objects. Mathers’s light touch redeems this same double spread with a funny, sneak-peek interior: A fish juggles lima beans atop a carton of strawberry ice cream, near a box of “Hungry Dude” pizza. Some poems stand out for their playful metaphors and puns: “Toaster” is “Jack-in-the-box / For bread”; “Paper Towels” enjoins “ . . . Don’t stop me now—I’m on a roll.” Mozelle brings the precision demanded by the short form to many, but not all, of these poems. Mathers’s cheerfully quirky watercolors notwithstanding, this collection neither falls flat nor rises above. (Poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8050-7143-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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ALL THE COLORS OF THE EARTH

This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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