The poems in this high-energy debut collection mimic the shapes and forms of the children's games they celebrate. A poem about a girl on a swing follows her arc as she flies through the air, leaving a trail of words across the page; the poem "Tic-Tac-Toe" requires some knowledge of the game in order to follow the verse's flow (or else it teaches the rules as readers go along). First-time illustrator Gibbon's understated watercolor spreads and vignettes accent Burg's whimsy without overshadowing it. "Pin the Tail on the Donkey," for instance, shows only the guiding hands of the onlookers around the edges, together with a subtle sprinkling of balloons and confetti to imply a party atmosphere. In a tour-de-force, one of Burg's briefest poems puts words to the act of looking at sky and ground while rolling down a hill: "Green/ green/ blue/ blue/ green/ green/ blue/ blue/ dandelion!/ green/"; a dizzy boy lies at the bottom of the slope as his panting dog comes running. The adventurous verses try everything from kite-flying to castle-building. Young readers will identify with most, if not all of them, and will appreciate the way their experiences can be preserved on the page. Ages 5-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 1-3-A visually delightful book of concrete poems that celebrate playtime pursuits like swinging, Frisbee, and softball. The words glide, bounce, or are stacked over the page, reinforcing the movements and activities they describe. Full-page watercolors combine with small, decorative illustrations to create a playful impression. The poems range from a repetition of words ("Bubbles") to a story ("Sand Castle") to a collection of sensations ("Fireflies"). Some of them may be hard for kids to read on their own if they're worried about the correct sequence since the selections seem to jump all over the pages. Most of the time it doesn't matter. In "Softball," for example, team members are pictured out on the field, with a small verse next to each of them. Although the first letter of the pitcher's words is set in a noticeably larger font, indicating that readers should start there, they can start anywhere. Others are more visually confusing, but that seems to be the point, as the seemingly haphazard placement of words replicates the high energy of the playground. This collection is similar in approach to Joan Bransfield Graham's Flicker Flash (Houghton, 1999) and J. Patrick Lewis's Doodle Dandies: Poems That Take Shape (Atheneum, 1998). With many collections the oral experience is key; here it's the visual experience.-Jane Marino, Scarsdale Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children trying to navigate these cheery concrete poems would be well-advised to follow the rhymes, because the words might read back and forth to evoke a game of "Catch"; up from the bottom, down from the top, or both ("Slide"); in spirals, swoops, or even from the center out ("Tic-Tac-Toe [A Battle Plan]"). Gibbons gives the verses plenty of elbowroom, setting them against spacious stretches of lawn, sand, wide, city streets or, sometimes, unadorned white space. Musician/songwriter Burg writes of happy times on ball fields, playgrounds, and beaches, in bedroom and back yard. If he closes with an invitation to "Connect the Dots" that may have children reaching for a pen or pencil, still the visual challenge of reading this poetry can be engrossing, and to judge from the popularity of Paul Janeczko's collection, A Poke in the I (2001), concrete poetry may be enjoying a renaissance. (Poetry. 7-10)