OUTSIDE THE LINES: Poetry at Play

Brad Burg, Author, Rebecca Gibbon, Illustrator , illus. by Rebecca Gibbon. Putnam $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-23446-0

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.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
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