The poems in this book celebrate the small things. Butterflies appear as the ghosts of pumpkins... Children take note of the world around them, talking to plants, or putting old Christmas trees up in a schoolyard before the first snow. The world presented here is seasonal, simple, quiet—but aware. Ideally suited for a classroom setting, where children can enjoy the poems one by one, savoring them individually as the year progresses, this book has widespread appeal, and could be used in primary grades as well as junior high. Its encouragement to consider the small things that surround us is refreshing in a world often filled with distraction and chaos, and its playful tone helps to avoid sanctimony. While it is not rollicking or hilarious, as are so many other books of poetry for children, the poems presented here will make them think—and, hopefully, will push them to notice what a wide, strange, and wonderful world we live in. It is a lovely work.
A collection of 23 nature poems cycles through the seasons, emphasizing the play between the outward and the hidden realms. The vocabulary and imagery stretch the maturing apprehension of young readers: "Botanical Jazz," about a sunflower, says, in part, "you're breaking our eyedrums / trumpeting all that color and sun / blowing that blazing yellow jazz . . . ." The use of contrasts-"heavy pumpkins and light butterflies"-vividly convey an observant look at what is often overlooked. Bright orange endpapers mirror pumpkin color, prefacing the title poem. Reynish's decorative illustrations reflect a thoughtful and purposeful artistic hand. A fuzzy chick in an outstretched hand, cherries scattered across another page, a pile of decaying leaves, a wintry scene and a starry-night-filled room enhance the more accessible poems. While some poems are readily within readers' grasp, others are more obscure, with a sophistication that exceeds the young-looking format. Guided reading will expand understanding and appreciation of these lovely, often challenging poems. (Picture book/poetry. 8-14)
“Heaven might be this / dark and wet and dangerous.” The excitement of the natural world, from a thrilling lightning storm to butterflies “untethered from earth,” is a child’s joyful discovery in this poetry collection. At home in his yard, the child enjoys playing with the falling leaves“mounding and drifting and trickling and piling / curling and crumbling and blowing and flying.” The bright watercolor, oil, and tempera illustrations extend the metaphors, with delicately detailed images of petal-soft, tiny, pink, cherry-tree blossoms pedaling toward summer or the literal image of the young speaker’s hoarse throat (the horse may be thirsty for lemon and honey, “but if I feed him / he’ll whinny and fly away”). Far from any solemn reverential view of nature, the poems are filled with fun action that is always rooted in physicality, whether it is shooting a cherry pit missile out of the park (“spitwhistle summerfun home run”) or making frozen angels in the snow.