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Children's Book Reviews



Kate Marley

While all of the following are new books, parents shouldn’t forget the classics when reading poetry to their children. Mother Goose, Milne, Stevenson, Frost, Dunbar, Lear…yes, don’t forget to include adult poetry. Not only does it make more sense, but it’s so much more fun, just like the following offerings!

Peephole Rhymes by Harriet Ziefert. c 2000, Price Stern Sloan. Nice for toddlers and babies, this collection of simple couplets leaves the last rhyming word hidden by a flap with a peephole. Cute, cartoony pictures are by Emily Bolam.

Snow? Let’s Go! by Karen Berman Nagel. c 2000, Scholastic. A simple but endearing picture book in rhyme of a little girl preparing to go out and play in the snow. Carolyn Croll did the bright illustrations.

Pieces by Anna Grossnickle Hines. c 2001, Greenwillow. A beautiful book, the subtitle “a year in poems and quilts” explains it best. Both by the author, small quilts and rhymes combine to show the year’s passage with joy and serenity.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen. c 2000, Blue Sky Press. An adorable rollicking rhyming story filled with petulant, willful dinosaurs who just don’t seem to want to go to bed…or do they? The amusing illustrations are by Mark Teague.

Wake Up House! By Dee Lillegard. c 2000, Knopf. Extremely three dimensional art in primary colors by Don Carter immediately capture one’s attention in this unique collection of poems about parts of a house.

Robots are Coming by Andy Rash. c 2000, Scholastic. No cute little bunny rabbits, no flowers, no warm fuzzies here – just a few poems chronicling the darker side of the imagination, such as pirates, mummies and androids. Only a little bit scary, this will still appeal to any kid who enjoys roller coasters or Halloween. The weird but comical illustrations are by the author.

Short Takes by Charles R. Smith Jr. c 2001, Dutton This self-described book of “fast-break basketball poetry” might convince some kids (notably boys) that this is definitely stuff worth reading. Visually engaging as well, the combination of real life photographs with a jazzy, hip hop rhythm makes for a rather original poetry book.

Stone Bench in an Empty Park. selected by Paul B. Janeczko. c 2000, Orchard Books. Subdued black and white photographs of the city by Henri Silberman illustrate this quiet assortment of haiku by various writers such as Nikki Grimes, Alan Pizzarelli, and Issa.

Words with Wings selected by Belinda Rochelle. c 2001, HarperCollins This handsome “treasury of African American poetry and art” features such famous writers as Alice Walker, Lucille Clifton, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Maya Angelou. The vibrant artwork is supplied by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Allan Rohan Crite and Augusta Savage, among others.

Daddy Poems compiled by John Micklos, Jr. c 2001, Boyds Mills Press Touching and heartwarming, this collection by various writers celebrates one of the most important bonds in a child’s life – their father. Definitely meant to be read aloud and shared, these poems are further enhanced by the warm pastel drawings of Robert Casilla. And yes, there is another book called Mommy Poems.

Ferocious Girls, Steamroller Boys, and Other Poems in Between by Timothy Bush. c 2000, Orchard Books. Quirky and fun, this collection of rhyming poems will be great reading for the elementary set. Amusing and colorful illustrations by the author are great.

Voices. selected by Barbara Brenner. c 2000, National Geographic. Filled with stunning artwork and photos, this beautiful book is a visual and poetical smorgasbord from around the world.

Movin’ edited by Dave Johnson. c 2000, Orchard Books These poems were selected from poetry workshops offered at the New York Public Library and from an Internet link where teen writers everywhere can submit work as well ( Distinctive black and white drawings by Chris Raschka highlight the wide range of subjects.

Learning to Swim by Ann Turner. c 2000, Scholastic. “With these poems, I have taken a silent, painful time in my childhood and transformed it into something healing and life-giving.” the author writes. Sexual abuse is a difficult topic, but the lyrical free verse here conveys the dark range of emotions brought on by the abuse and then later by the healing.

You Hear Me? edited by Betsy Franco. c 2000, Candlewick Press. A collection of poems and writings by teenage boys, this gives an unflinching look into the stark lives of so many today. Be warned that there ARE some poems with some strong, even bad language. But somehow, (although I hate to admit this), it seemed in context.

Within and Between by Robert H. Deluty. c 2000, Gateway Press. Published in Baltimore by a Baltimorean, this collection of poems range in subject matter from Holocaust survivors to raising children. Most are short, evoking a poignant imagery of the dual frailty and toughness of life.

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