Review: A Bunch of Punctuation selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

A Bunch of Punctuation selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

A Bunch of Punctuation selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Serge Bloch (9781590789940)

This poetry anthology celebrates the various forms of punctuation. It begins with a poem that looks at the range of different punctuation and then moves on to poems about specific types of punctuation. The exclamation point is a superhero in a poem with lots of sounds and naturally, exclamations. The dash gives one a bit of pause. The hyphen creates new combinations. The period is a traffic officer demanding a full stop. The popular apostrophe works hard to show possession and create contractions. One after another, these forms of punctuation are given their own voice and uses it to explain what they do with humor.

Anytime you pick up an anthology by Hopkins, you know you are in for a treat. He has a knack for creating poetry books for children that have child-friendly poetry but also have an arc that gets pages turning. Here the punctuation poems follow one after another in a way that displays their full range and results in a journey rather than a simple series of poetry.

The illustrations by Bloch use punctuation to create bodies for the various characters. He also uses words to create them too. They have the loose feel of doodles, which creates a look at that adds to the friendliness of the book.

Another winner of an anthology from Hopkins. This one will be useful in the classroom and will be enjoyed as a full anthology by readers. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

Review: I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell

I Yam a Donkey by Cece Bell

I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell (InfoSoup)

This silly little book is a read-aloud gem. A donkey declares on the cover “I yam a donkey!” But unfortunately, he’s speaking to a yam and a rather persnickety one at that. The yam can’t leave the donkey’s odd grammar alone, and tries to correct him, but that quickly devolves into a “Who’s on first” type of exchange where misunderstandings pile up and the silliness does too. When the yam finally manages to explain that he is not a donkey (as the donkey has been misunderstanding) but actually a yam and all of the other characters are also vegetables, the ending takes a deliciously dark turn.

Bell uses impeccable comedic timing to make this picture book work so well. The vaudeville like comedy works perfectly here, playing up the stodgy yam and the enthusiastically confused donkey. The two are divergent personalities and make for a book that is such a strong read aloud that you really can’t read it silently. It begs to be shared and done with exquisitely different and wild voices since it’s written entirely in dialogue.

Bell’s illustrations are large and funny. Again, the two characters are shown as very different and the donkey mistaken the rather wrinkly and orange yam as a donkey is made all the funnier thanks to the illustrations. The final twist is wonderful and will have children who are a little older than preschool enjoying the grammar jokes and the ending together.

Funny, wildly silly and completely satisfying, this picture book will work best with elementary aged children who will get the dark humor as well as the grammar jokes. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: An Ambush of Tigers by Betsy R. Rosenthal

Ambush of Tigers by Betsy Rosenthal

An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns by Betsy R. Rosenthal, illustrated by Jago (InfoSoup)

Using wordplay and clever illustrations, this book celebrates the unique and fascinating world of collective nouns used for groups of animals. From a leap of leopards jumping through the trees near a tower of giraffes to a labor of moles working alongside a business of flies, the animals and their respective collective nouns are matched up to maximize both understanding and humor. Children will enjoy exploring these words and will puzzle over why certain animals are referred to in specific ways.

Rosenthal has carefully chosen the collective nouns she highlights in her book. She also has managed to pair them with interesting imagery in her poetry, such as a troop of kangaroos selling cookies and collecting money in their pouches. She uses rhyming couplets to make the book even more fast-paced and jaunty. The result is a book that is both fascinating and educational but also great fun.

The art by Jago takes the imagery from Rosenthal’s rhymes and turns it into pictures which add to the inherent humor. The sleuth of bears is hot on the heels of the murder of crows. His paintings make the collective nouns tangible and real, creating scenarios that are memorable.

A nice addition to the Ruth Heller books that are in most libraries, this book has a fresh tone and lots of humor. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.