cover image The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems

Ed. by Paul B. Janeczko, illus. by Richard Jones. Candlewick, $19.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-8168-5

Who can resist a good how-to? Janeczko, an astute editor of children’s poetry, capitalizes on his readers’ natural curiosity and yearning for autonomy while opening up the possibilities for what a how-to—both the question and the answer—can be. The selections are giddily eclectic: J. Patrick Lewis offers pointers on distinguishing the Dromedary from the Bactrian camel; Irene Latham tells readers how to walk on Mars (“Don’t take off your helmet,/ whatever you do”). Kwame Alexander’s “Basketball Rule #2” uses abrupt, imperative rhythms (“Hustle dig/Grind push/Run fast”). And Douglas Florian goes for full-on silliness, advising readers who are tired of their hair to “Mail it in first class in a letter;/ Weave it in your cashmere sweater.” Digitized paintings by Jones (The Squirrels’ Busy Year) have silk-screened textures and create visual cohesion even as they range as widely as the verse. One spread offers an everyday, ordinary scene: a boy rides his bike through a sunlit park; in another, a tiny, solitary astronaut gazes into a vast, yellow-orange Martian landscape. The entire book becomes a how-to , instructing readers not only in various activities but also in all the ways poetry can resonate. Ages 6–9. (Mar.)