A Burst of Firsts: Doers, Shakers, and Record Breakers

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Famed children's poet J. Patrick Lewis and artist Brian Ajhar team up (for the first time) to offer this surprising, informative, and wonderfully funny tribute to those who've gone before...well, everyone! A Pulitzer Prize winner and a prize-fighter, a bubble gum blower and a blue jeans maker, intrepid explorers, daredevils, and high-flying honeymooners are all a part of a gallery of awesome endeavors and notable events. A celebration of our history and the ever-striving human spirit, this upbeat homage will have...
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Overview

Famed children's poet J. Patrick Lewis and artist Brian Ajhar team up (for the first time) to offer this surprising, informative, and wonderfully funny tribute to those who've gone before...well, everyone! A Pulitzer Prize winner and a prize-fighter, a bubble gum blower and a blue jeans maker, intrepid explorers, daredevils, and high-flying honeymooners are all a part of a gallery of awesome endeavors and notable events. A celebration of our history and the ever-striving human spirit, this upbeat homage will have young readers bursting to create their own fantastic "firsts."

A collection of poems that celebrate such notable firsts as the first American woman in space, the first king of rock 'n' roll, the first man to run a four-minute mile, and the first person to create blue jeans.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lewis (Good Mousekeeping, reviewed above) trolls the annals of history and trivia for this collection of paeans to subjects as varied as "The Biggest Bubble-Gum Bubble Ever Blown" (23 inches wide) to the "First American Woman in Space." The less sublime accomplishments offer Lewis a target for puns and wordplay, as in this ode to Levi Strauss, "First Person to Create Blue Jeans": "Half the world's been redesigned,/ Sew it seams, on its behind." The witty "First Parachute Wedding" concludes, "From skies above/ They fell in love./ Her wedding vow?/ A simple "Wow!" In a different vein, the highly accomplished "First Person to Break the Color Barrier in Baseball" opens with this description of Jackie Robinson: "Inching along the third-base line,/ the Prince of Easy Afternoons/ would suddenly explode for home/ in the astonished air." On the other hand, a number of entries seem overblown or stale (of an ancient redwood: "A redwood bud began to grow/ And watch the seasons come and go"). Unfortunately, the poems are underserved by Ajhar's (Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning) brittle, cartoonish illustrations. Despite the range of moods in the verses, the artwork reduces everything to caricature, as in portraits that exaggerate the features of Ruby Bridges ("First Child to Integrate an All-White School") and Elvis Presley ("First King of Rock 'n' Roll"), or to silliness, as in Lewis's awe-filled homage to Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, for which the two are portrayed as kangaroos in space suits (one phrase mentions, "They hopped like kangaroos because/ Of gravity"). Even with their whimsicality, the one-note visuals homogenize the collection's quirks and eccentricities. Ages 5-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
The subjects of these twenty-two poems are varied. Here, one can read about the biggest bubble-gum bubble ever blown, the first lady of twentieth-century sports (Babe Didrikson), the first person to win the heavyweight boxing crown three times (Muhammad Ali), the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive, the oldest tree in America and other incredible feats. Each poem has its own cadence and aptly fits its subject. The whimsical illustrations have some refreshingly humorous touches. Elvis in his pink Cadillac is munching on a piece of pizza; Muhammad Ali is pictured as a Bee. The girl with the biggest bubble, whose poem is first, can be seen floating in the background of the poems throughout the book. Readers are fascinated by books of record-breaking events. Now they can enjoy some light verse as well. 2001, Dial Books for Young Readers, $15.99. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-A collection of lithe and snappy verses. From the "firsts" of Neil Armstrong and Ruby Bridges to "The Biggest Bubble-Gum Bubble Ever Blown" and the "#1 Lunch Choice of School Kids" (pizza), Lewis celebrates "remarkable and wacky events and endeavors." His tricky rhythms are best read aloud, and exhibit a firm sense of childlike humor. "What first broke the sound barrier?/A Brontosaurus derriere." Some poems are stronger than others, and though some give less information about the subject than their title, they're still fun to read. The poem titled "First Man to Lead the NBA in Scoring for Ten Years: Michael Jordan b. 1963" reads in its entirety: "Michael/Jordan-/Just/An/Ordin-/Ary/Guy/In/The/Sky." The poet's fancy footwork here is as accomplished and apparently easy as Fred Astaire's, and Ajhar's appealing mixed-media illustrations keep right in step with Lewis's energetic and colorful humor and draw readers in. Kids will appreciate the eclectic mix of achievements gathered here. Perhaps this unusual collection works so well because it shows kids how a "simple" poem can celebrate a great achievement-and that it is part of the poet's achievement to make it seem great.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803721081
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/28/2001
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.81 (w) x 11.31 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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