Review of The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog: And Other How-To Poems

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog: And Other How-To Poems
selected by Paul B. Janeczko; illus. by Richard Jones
Primary    Candlewick    48 pp.    g
3/19    978-0-7636-8168-5    $17.99

The thirty-three poems in this “how-to” collection range from the whimsical, such as Monica Shannon’s “How to Tell Goblins from Elves,” to the very practical, such as Martin Gardner’s “Barbershop”: “Don’t squirm / Like a worm / While he’s cutting your hair.” Written by many of today’s preeminent poets for children, including Nikki Grimes, Margarita Engle, and Douglas Florian, this collection also includes a few older pieces by poets such as Christina Rossetti and Robert Louis Stevenson. Some offer advice that is more funny than useful, as in Karla Kuskin’s hilarious “Rules”: “Do not wear a broom to breakfast. / Do not ask a snake’s advice.” Others are useful, such as “How to Ride a New Bike,” by April Halprin Wayland, which advises, “Feather brakes slow / bike doesn’t throw me.” Each, though, is genuine poetry and not a didactic lesson, written with rhythm, expression, and evocative phrases that often beg to be read aloud. Jones’s digitally edited paintings capture the tone and feeling of each piece while still being unified overall with color choices, soft edges, and keen observations of nature. Though some of the selections are silly, the accompanying pictures are lush, gentle, and tender, filling each large page. A varied and approachable poetry collection that children can enjoy on their own, and that adults can enjoy sharing with them.

From the March/April 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Susan Dove Lempke
Susan Dove Lempke
Susan Dove Lempke is a Horn Book reviewer and director of the Niles Public Library District in Illinois.

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