cover image Street Music: City Poems

Street Music: City Poems

. HarperCollins, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021522-4

Like beatnik scenes from '50s Hollywood movies, the poems in this self-consciously hip collection strain to be stylish and modern. Adoff (All the Colors of the Race; Sports Pages) loads his writing with details city-dwellers will easily recognize but the particulars he chooses (``Boys on skateboards, girls on in-line skates./ Joggers in shorts, joggers in sweats. An old/ woman walks with a cane'') and the e.e. cummings-style line breaks and letter spacing frequently seem arbitrary. Often the poems lend themselves to coffee house parody, e.g., the narrator describes street musicians and then says, ``We snap fingers./ We snap fingers./ We snap/ fingers.'' Barbour's (Little Nino's Pizzeria) cleverly composed retro illustrations appear against densely saturated backgrounds-deep red to match a poem about fire trucks, Easter-egg blue to match a poem about Sunday breakfast. More consistent than the text, they vibrate a jazzy fluidity and rhythm. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)