From School Library Journal
Grade 2–6—Hughes penned more than 250 poems expressly for children, which were previously published in The Mermaid's Purse, The Cat and the Cuckoo, Season Songs
, and others. Now they are gathered together in one book beginning with the volumes most suited for elementary-age children and progressing in complexity. Some of Hughes's witty and irreverent verses require sophisticated and patient readers because he includes creative grammar when he wants them to rhyme ("Far undergrounded, Moon-miners dumbfounded") and uses mixed cadences within a single poem that confound reading aloud without practice. Words more commonly used in England, "your telly's there," and "pans spitting by sixes" may slow some American children; however, the sheer variety of poetic styles will please many others. Briggs's stellar ink, mostly realistic illustrations suffuse the sections for younger children, where animals and family are the subjects, and become sparer for longer narrative poems. Although the audience may be somewhat limited, this is an important addition to any large poetry collection.—Kirsten Cutler, Sonoma County Library, CA
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For reading aloud at home and in the classroom, this collection of 250 poems by the late English poet laureate Ted Hughes begins with those he published for younger children in collections such as Meet My Folks
(1961) and The Cat and the Cuckoo
(1987) before moving on to more sophisticated works, which he said he wrote "within hearing" of children. From the eyelash of a baby hare to the gruesome action of the Loch Ness monster, the images swing from tenderness to farce, and in some verses the two come together: in "My Brother Bert," "The very thought makes me iller and iller: / Bert's brought home a gigantic gorilla." Children will love the sounds of the rhythmic lines, and Briggs' scattering of small black-and-white drawings perfectly captures the tiny details in the words. Some poems will be read over and over again. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved