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A Burst of Firsts: Doers, Shakers, and Record Breakers Hardcover – May 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Dial; First Edition edition (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803721080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803721081
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.4 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,325,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lewis (Good Mousekeeping, reviewed above) trolls the annals of history and trivia for this collection of paeans to subjects as varied as "The Biggest Bubble-Gum Bubble Ever Blown" (23 inches wide) to the "First American Woman in Space." The less sublime accomplishments offer Lewis a target for puns and wordplay, as in this ode to Levi Strauss, "First Person to Create Blue Jeans": "Half the world's been redesigned,/ Sew it seams, on its behind." The witty "First Parachute Wedding" concludes, "From skies above/ They fell in love./ Her wedding vow?/ A simple "Wow!" In a different vein, the highly accomplished "First Person to Break the Color Barrier in Baseball" opens with this description of Jackie Robinson: "Inching along the third-base line,/ the Prince of Easy Afternoons/ would suddenly explode for home/ in the astonished air." On the other hand, a number of entries seem overblown or stale (of an ancient redwood: "A redwood bud began to grow/ And watch the seasons come and go"). Unfortunately, the poems are underserved by Ajhar's (Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning) brittle, cartoonish illustrations. Despite the range of moods in the verses, the artwork reduces everything to caricature, as in portraits that exaggerate the features of Ruby Bridges ("First Child to Integrate an All-White School") and Elvis Presley ("First King of Rock 'n' Roll"), or to silliness, as in Lewis's awe-filled homage to Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, for which the two are portrayed as kangaroos in space suits (one phrase mentions, "They hopped like kangaroos because/ Of gravity"). Even with their whimsicality, the one-note visuals homogenize the collection's quirks and eccentricities. Ages 5-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-A collection of lithe and snappy verses. From the "firsts" of Neil Armstrong and Ruby Bridges to "The Biggest Bubble-Gum Bubble Ever Blown" and the "#1 Lunch Choice of School Kids" (pizza), Lewis celebrates "remarkable and wacky events and endeavors." His tricky rhythms are best read aloud, and exhibit a firm sense of childlike humor. "What first broke the sound barrier?/A Brontosaurus derriere." Some poems are stronger than others, and though some give less information about the subject than their title, they're still fun to read. The poem titled "First Man to Lead the NBA in Scoring for Ten Years: Michael Jordan b. 1963" reads in its entirety: "Michael/Jordan-/Just/An/Ordin-/Ary/Guy/In/The/Sky." The poet's fancy footwork here is as accomplished and apparently easy as Fred Astaire's, and Ajhar's appealing mixed-media illustrations keep right in step with Lewis's energetic and colorful humor and draw readers in. Kids will appreciate the eclectic mix of achievements gathered here. Perhaps this unusual collection works so well because it shows kids how a "simple" poem can celebrate a great achievement-and that it is part of the poet's achievement to make it seem great.
Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rodney Tate on May 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful book! The brillant illustrations fill the pages with humor! And color! And action! The poetry fills a child's mind with thoughtful imagery. But the illustrations and poetry put together are enough to spark a child's creative side into full throttle!
A Burst of Firsts brings to life in child-size quantities the feats of "the biggest", "the best", "the first". The children I have read it to wanted to know what feats they could preform to be "the first" as soon as I had put the book down. We giggled together thinking of all the possibilities! They laughed at the pictures of the fat cow blowing a bubble and of the Dino breaking the sound barrier!
All the way down to the silo on the front cover, the illustrations are big and beautiful. The poems are thoughtful and playful!
A marvelous book that children will pick up over and over again!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rod Cameron on June 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"A Burst of Firsts" is wonderfully written and illustrated in a larger than life scale which fits hand in glove with the inspiration that flows from every colorful and witty page. All the main characters, the doers, shakers and brakers are fully cranked and in real life had to be. These folks exceeded the epectations of others and themselves. Susan Montgomery Williams is clearly surprised and awed at what she can do, which underlies the theme of the book, which Susan whimsicly floats through. Brian Ajhar's pictures are hilarious and brilliantly done. I loved the first men on the moon "kangas". I was in outback Australia in 1969 when moon walking happened. With a group of miners in a picture theater we witnessed the astronauts hoping across the moon. Out of the dark came the comment which bought the house down, "They are like a coupla bloody kangas" (outback for kangaroo)
This is a great book because I think it can encourage kids by thinking bigger than the ordinary.
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Format: Hardcover
I love this book! Burst of Firsts is so much more interesting than a history book and has many great stories to share. I loved the one about the First Parachute Wedding that took place on August 25, 1940.

I write a blog called Quirky Marketing Calendar and this book is a great resource that I have used to create marketing ideas for my readers to use in their own businesses.

Thanks so much for writing it!

Warmest regards,

Heidi Richards Mooney, Author, Social Media Muse, Internet Marketing Conductor
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More About the Author

After nearly three decades as a professor of economics, J. Patrick Lewis turned to poetry. He is the author of more than 75 children's books including A Hippopotamusn't (1990), BoshBlobberBosh (1998), Please Bury Me in the Library (2004), First Dog (2009), Spot the Plot (2009), and The House (2009).

He has recently been named the third U.S. Children's Poet Laureate (2011-2013) by the Poetry Foundation.

His books have been published by Creative Editions, Knopf, Atheneum, Dial, Harcourt, Little, Brown, National Geographic, Chronicle Books, Scholastic, Candlewick, Schwartz & Wade, Holiday House, Sleeping Bear Press, Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, Dawn Publications, and others. Gulls Hold Up the Sky, his first book of adult poems, was published by Laughing Fire Press (2010).

Pat's children's poems have also appeared in CRICKET (26 times), SPIDER, LADYBUG, CICADA, ODYSSEY, RANGER RICK, HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN, Ms. Magazine, YOUR BIG BACKYARD, CREATIVE CLASSROOM, STORYTIME, STORYWORKS, CHICKADEE, AHOY, LANGUAGE ARTS, JOURNAL OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, BOOKBIRD, READING TODAY and over 100 anthologies. He wrote the 1992 National Children's Book Week poem, printed on one million bookmarks and distributed nationally.

Lewis has received numerous awards from the American Library Association, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and others. He was the recipient of the 2010-11 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Children's Poetry Award, presented every two years.

WHERE I'LL BE NEXT--Schools, Bookstores, Conferences

October 14-16, 2011 Poetry Foundation--TED Lecture Chicago, Illiniois
October 23-25, 2011 NY State Reading Assn. Rye Brook, New York
October 28-31, 2011 Keystone State Reading Assn. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
November 5, 2011 Buckeye Book Fair Wooster, Ohio
November 8, 2011 Ashland University Ashland, Ohio
November 15-16, 2011 St. Joseph's College Rensselaer, Indiana
November 17-20, 2011 NCTE Convention Chicago, Illinois
December 1, 2010 Hillview Elementary Newark, Ohio
December 8, 2011 West Chester University (Dan Darigan) West Chester, PA
January 18, 2012 Richard Avenue Elementary Grove City, Ohio
January 24, 2012 Fouse Elementary Westerville, Ohio
March 1-3, 2012 Charlotte Huck Ch. Lit. Conference Redlands, California
April 3-5, 2012 Holland Hall Primary Tulsa, Oklahoma
April 12, 2012 Washington-Centerville Public Library Centerville, Ohio
April 13, 2012 Stingley Elementary Centerville, Ohio
April 17-25, 2012 Anglo-American School Moscow, Russia
April 29-May 2, 2012 IRA Convention Chicago, Illinois
May 10, 2012 Wynford Elementary Bucyrus, Ohio
March 22, 2013 OCTELA Conference Columbus, Ohio