A REVOLUTIONARY FIELD TRIP

POEMS OF COLONIAL AMERICA

Linked by Alley’s amiably humorous scenes of a small class, led by a Ms. Frizzle–like teacher, trooping through a reconstructed colonial village and sampling hands-on activities, Katz’s poems—some rhymed, some in free verse—open windows on daily life in those olden days. The young visitors reflectively comment on such diverse experiences as dipping candles and walking on cobblestones, playing familiar games (“Rolling hoops and flying kites, / Ice skating, bird-nesting, snowball fights”), sampling unfamiliar dishes (“Hush puppies, brown betty, flummery, crowdy, / Pocket soup, syllabub, apple pandowdy—”), mingling with the dancers at a powwow demonstration, and participating in a traditional Native corn-planting ritual. Sandwiched between maps of the Eastern seaboard that show both indigenous populations and early European settlements, pleasingly varied in tempo and tone, these 20 poems form a hard-to-resist invitation to “taste a spoonful of gooseberry fool, / Hundreds of years away from school.” (glossary) (Poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-84004-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2004

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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DINOSAURS GALORE!

A dozen familiar dinosaurs introduce themselves in verse in this uninspired, if colorful, new animal gallery from the authors of Commotion in the Ocean (2000). Smiling, usually toothily, and sporting an array of diamonds, lightning bolts, spikes and tiger stripes, the garishly colored dinosaurs make an eye-catching show, but their comments seldom measure up to their appearance: “I’m a swimming reptile, / I dive down in the sea. / And when I spot a yummy squid, / I eat it up with glee!” (“Ichthyosaurus”) Next to the likes of Kevin Crotty’s Dinosongs (2000), illustrated by Kurt Vargo, or Jack Prelutsky’s classic Tyrannosaurus Was A Beast (1988), illustrated by Arnold Lobel, there’s not much here to roar about. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58925-044-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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