Penguin Young Readers Group will issue two new book for grammar school students in February.
"Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems' ($16.99) by Marilyn Singer will be released Feb. 7. The illustrator is Josee Masse. The book is written for those six years old or older.
Singer invented the reverso poem, a form in which a poet writes a poem and then reverses the order of the words from the bottom up to create a whole new poem. Singer retells fairy tales in her books. Sometimes her reverso poems end up showing the story from a different character's perspective. Other times the same character has two completely different viewpoints, depending on which poem is used.
Although this novelty won Singer many awards when she introduced it in 2010 in her "Mirror Mirror" book, this new work feels contrived and artificial. The language is jerky and the effort to do the reversal is labored. Children do not find the stories entertaining and are bored quickly with the book. This book has a no-star rating.
"A Tangle of Knots" ($16.99) by Lisa Graff also employs literary devices but with greater success. She unites one plot around multiple story lines. Although not always easy to follow, the various adventures are interesting and in the end tie together. Graff's book is intended for children 8-to-12-years old, although it is likely the older children will enjoy it most. The book will be published Feb. 5.
Cady is an orphan and the best baker in her magical world. Baking is her Talent. In this magical world, everyone eventually has a Talent, although some people live many years before discovering theirs. Cady's secret is she knows exactly which cake each person will enjoy most, so those who eat her cakes are always happy.
This book is part cookbook. Graff includes a cake recipe representing each major character. The simple recipes are easy to use and young bakers will enjoy trying Cady's recipes.
However, Cady does not know which cake is her own favorite, and this is because she does not know who she really is. She has no idea who her father and mother were. The keeper of the orphanage, whose Talent is making matches, has always found foster homes for her other orphans, but has not found Cady a home.
Talent can be stolen. The owner of the lost luggage shop freezes his customers' talents and keeps them in glass jars in his shop. He is search of his deceased mother's recipe for making perfect peanut butter which was lost years ago in an old piece of luggage. One day his luggage supplier brings the case in but the recipe is not in it.
Cady finds the recipe and bakes him a cake. She gives him the recipe for the peanut butter, but he fails to make it. He realize he must steal her Talent.
Add to this mix a boy whose Talent is getting lost, his pet ferret, another boy who steals and breaks all the Talent jars and an old woman who finds a picture explaining the whole story.
The plot line truly is tangled, but it is a rich tale about the different gifts people have and the secrets of life which can go undiscovered for years. This book has a five-star rating.