cover image GIANT CHILDREN


Brod Bagert, , illus. by Tedd Arnold. . Dial, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2556-0

This deliciously over-the-top poetry collection explores the nerve-wracking world of school-age children. The narrator of the opening titular poem is the classroom hamster: "Pages turn at giant speed/ As giant children learn to read." Bagert's (Chicken Socks: And Other Contagious Poems) uncomplicated style of verse addresses such diverse topics as sibling feuds and wild imaginations, monster trucks and the Tooth Fairy, as it humorously handles the more anxious side of growing up, including the mixed blessing of landing the lead in the school play. Arnold's signature style seems particularly well suited to the stage-frightened fellow waiting in the wings ("So here I am on stage,/ And the play's about to start./ My life was so much simpler/ Before I got this part"). The squiggling lines seem to indicate the actor's nerves gone haywire. Bagert delivers the requisite gross-out with "Booger Love" (complete with warning label that the poem "not, under any circumstances, be recited to a grown-up!"). The characters' pop-eyes sitting atop oversize heads help express the ever-changing emotions of childhood. Arnold selects just the right moment in each poem to dramatize and his exaggerated portraits help readers focus on the hyperbole of the poetry. A funny peek at the pleasures and (growing) pains of childhood. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)