A companion to Hopkins's Side by Side: Poems to Read Together, this confection-filled collection for younger readers seems slight in comparison. There are plenty of strong poems but few discoveries. The best work is the tried-and-true: the tongue-twisting fun of ""Jabberwocky"" and the carefully attuned language of Karla Kuskin and David McCord. But many other works lack freshness, as in a poem that patronizingly begins, ""See, I can do it all myself/ With my own little brush!"" Nancy Willard's original and inventive ""Magic Story for Falling Asleep"" is the only poem in a section called ""Worlds of Make-Believe"" that doesn't feature cliched images of ""small and merry"" elves, fairies, gnomes or mermaids sailing on leaves or tiptoeing in and out through the flowers. Brown (From Lullaby to Lullaby) executes a fair number of Norman Rockwell-type subjects (e.g., four kids in a claw-footed tub, being bathed by a dad in suspenders and jeans), especially in the ""Secret Places"" and ""It's So Funny"" sections, but she spikes her work with quirky cartoonlike creatures and whimsical flourishes (e.g., in the corner of a grandmother's living room, a toy donkey dressed in doll clothes sits propped in a chair). Despite the inviting art, this long-awaited collection ultimately disappoints. Ages 2-7. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998 Release date: 10/01/1998 Genre: Children's
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