cover image Keepers: Treasure-Hunt Poems

Keepers: Treasure-Hunt Poems

John Frank, , illus. by Ken Robbins. . Roaring Brook/ Porter, $17.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-197-3

It's reluctant poetry-readers Frank (The Tomb of the Boy King ) seems most intent on reaching with this collection of friendly, sturdy verses. He celebrates the treasures many kids have in a box somewhere: arrowheads, old coins, comic books (“Good ol' Clark Kent,/ that mild-mannered reporter,/ on sale at a swap meet,/ a buck and a quarter”). Each poem deals with a single object—a fossil, a locket, a medal—and many are illustrated with Robbins's (Pumpkins ) photos, crisp, brightly lit, intensely colored closeups of die-cast cars or smooth stones, looking almost real enough to pick up. Like his flea-market treasures or his beach finds, Frank's poems are unassuming, accessible, even rough around the edges. Some read flat-footedly (“For thousands of years,/ you've slowly grown,/ and stayed in bloom—/ a rose of stone”); a few standouts are super-charged (about a Willie Mays baseball card: “There was no fly he couldn't field,/ no base he couldn't snatch,/ no juicy pitch he couldn't clout/ no runner he could not throw out”). Humor informs Frank's writing, but the spark of his best work appears to be missing. Ages 7-up. (Apr.)