I like poetry. I like books. I like poetry books. And I love Stars in the Shadows by Charles R. Smith, Jr (illustrated by Frank Morrison) and I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus by Jack Prelutsky (illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic).
One takes poetry and helps make a historical event (a very special baseball game) accessible to all types of readers; the other makes poetry fun and a delight to reread and read aloud!
“Welcome to Chicago, welcome all. It’s a beautiful day to play baseball.” August 26. 1934 is the day the second Negro League All-Star Baseball game was played. And Smith makes that day comes alive in Stars in the Shadows. You’ll probably recognize a few names (Satchel Paige) and wonder how others got theirs (Turkey Stearns). But as Lester Roberts (announcer for Radio Station WNLB) gives you the “play-by-play in a creative way” (prose as rhyming poetry) you are transported to a very familiar thing: a baseball game. But not any game. A game that explores the historical significance of players as good as any white player (perhaps better in many cases) but not considered equal due to skin color. Smith mixes the announcement of the game, commercials and fan comments to weave together a book that will have you yelling, “Play Ball!”
Jack Prelutsky is in his usual playful form in I've Lost My Hippopotamus. And as the “Short Song of the Hungry Bookworm” tells us: “I Love books. Yes, I love books./Oh, books; it’s hard to beat you./I give you long and loving looks,/And then I slowly eat you.” And you will want to slowly devour the poems in this over 100 poem-filled book. Urbaniovics’ illustrations area as funny ,sweet and quirky as the poems about pigeons, indoor rain, screaming weemies, robot rabbits, camels, frogs, arithmetic snakes and skating potatoes!
And while both of these are delicious example of poetry, please restrain from nibbling on the pages—leave it to your eyes to have the feast!