In this rather eclectic collection of poems, the poems� narrators address inanimate objects, like skyscrapers, �A Mote of Dust,� and Black Holes, as well as animals (horses and toads) and insects (bees and mosquitoes). While the mixed-media illustrations that appear to include pen-and-ink sketches, watercolor, and photographs tie the book together visually, the unlikelihood of some of the �conversations� unite the title thematically. A kid asks a maggot in his apple whether it has a twin in Richard Edwards�s poem �To a Maggot in an Apple,� while a girl tells her soft-boiled egg how much she dislikes it in Russell Hoban�s �Soft-Boiled.� Janeczko has created some interesting pairings among the poems, including his juxtaposition of Penny Harter�s �Buffalo� against Kristine O�Connell George�s �Bison�--accompanied by a Ryevsky-illustrated horned beast on both sides of the double-page spread. And Emily Dickinson�s �Bee, I�m Expecting You� that considers the bee a signal of spring, sits opposite Nikki Grimes�s �Straight Talk,� which addresses the bee as an unwelcome invader that should find somewhere else to be. From contemplative to humorous, these poems would make great read-aloud material for teachers seeking to integrate daily poetry into their classrooms. Reviewer: Michelle H. Martin, Ph.D.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
The theme of the poetry in Janeczko's collection is that of talking to things rather than to people. As he starts readers thinking about this idea, he also encourages them to stretch their imaginations and create a poem of their own. The thirty poems are all brief, most only a page, and written by many of our finest poets for young people, including George Ella Lyon, X.J. Kennedy, Naomi Shihab Nye, Douglas Florian, and J. Patrick Lewis. Even Ogden Nash and Emily Dickinson appear. The subjects addressed a range of subjects, from sneakers and a maggot to a snowflake and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. All are worthy of reading, rereading and contemplation. Illustrating such a variety of poems is difficult. How can one extend the pleasure of the words without redundancy? Rayevsky has chosen an honest naturalism, but filtered through his imagination. The jacket street scene and its extension on the title page depict active youngsters and adults, perhaps suggesting the effort needed to appreciate the poems inside. Light-heartedness dominates almost all the pages, but each image illuminates some quality of the poem.
School Library Journal
These 30 poems by various writers were all written to their subjects, directly addressing "skyscrapers, mosquitoes, and other fun things." Yet, a ballad to the Vietnam Memorial sits between a vacuous bit of verse to a police officer's horse and a longer poem to the moon. On occasion, similar subjects will follow one another. The most interesting of these pairings are two selections to bees, "Straight Talk" by Nikki Grimes, and "Bee, I'm expecting you!" by Emily Dickinson (though the poet's original punctuation has been edited). There are several poems about sea life. Many of the better selections could be used to explore voice, address, looking at things in new ways, tone, and metaphor, but others are uninspired and flat. Norman MacCaig's "Toad" offers one of the collection's most unique poetic voices, as does Bobbi Katz's "Camel Question." Marjorie Maddox writes with zany hyperbole a letter to a mailbox. Rayevsky's watercolors are often gray without reason and rarely lend themselves to enriching readers' experience of the poems. Despite its many excellent elements, this collection is a mixed bag.
Teresa PfeiferCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From a mote of dust to the Vietnam War Memorial, from a camel to a writer's tools (pen, paper and ink), 30 short poems by nearly as many modern poets address a wide range of everyday creatures and items. Rayevsky ably captures each entry's tone and topic by placing easily recognizable figures against broadly brushed, often semi-abstract backgrounds, and casting a muted light over each scene. As a collection, this doesn't have enough individual identity to stand out from the crowd, but with a roster of contributors that goes from Emily Dickinson and Ogden Nash to Nikki Grimes and Dennis Lee, there should be something here to appeal to readers of nearly any preference or temperament. Possibly because the poets do speak to their subjects directly, this is billed as a companion to Dirty Laundry Pile: Poems in Different Voices (2001), illustrated by Melissa Sweet, in which objects themselves narrate-but the connection isn't a particularly strong one. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)