Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2008 Gr 3-6-The text of this book is a renga, a poem in which one author writes one verse (three lines) and another writes the next (two lines), linking the new verse to the previous one in some way. The poets describe with carefully crafted word images the places and people one might see walking down the main street of a small town. The connection between the verses is sometimes obvious and other times obscure. The cadence of the free verse poems feels like a slow amble and adds to the homey effect of the poetry. Realistic watercolors perfectly reflect the easygoing mood of the selections. Lippincott has managed to connect the illustrations in the same way that the authors connect the verses. Readers can find details from previous illustrations in the background of the next picture. In the introduction, Lewis and Janeczko explain the form of the poem and invite youngsters to try writing one with a friend. This lovely book will inspire readers to do just that. Birds on a Wire is more contemplative than this team's Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku (Little, Brown, 2006). It shows the versatility of the authors and is a fine addition to most collections.-Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. - Copyright 2008 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2008 These two prominent poets collaborate on a modified renga, a Japanese verse form wherein “poets take turns adding verses,” resulting in a round-robin approach to poetic sequence. In this case, each poem is a five-line unrhymed stanza that essentially breaks down to a haiku-like tercet and a closing couplet, and they trace a day in a bucolic small town, following the shopkeepers opening up their storefronts, the old folks chatting in the town square, dogs and kids playing in the park, and, eventually, families eating dinner and birds quieting down as the light dims. The project is an interesting one, and there are flashes of illuminating imagery (“basketball taps/ its message on playground—then/ silence before swish”) and touches of playfulness (one verse tips its hat to William Carlos Williams with an “old doctor” gazing thoughtfully at a red wheelbarrow “glazed with rain”). The picture is a fairly predictable one, however, and the promised linkage between verses is sometimes difficult to discern. The watercolor illustrations are uneven: at their best they approach Barry Moser’s keen particularity, and kids will enjoy the small unmentioned elements (such as the recurring appearance of a curious kitten); too often, though, the draftsmanship is stiff or strained, and the romanticized version of the small town (absolutely pristine grounds, old-fashioned presentation, and adults, if not the kids, all white) suggests a devitalized Rockwellian nostalgia. The poetry is reassuringly accessible, however, and it offers definite possibilities for emulation as well as interestingly orchestrated reading aloud. DS - Copyright 2008 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 08/01/2008 *Starred Review* In the Japanese verse form called renga, a cousin to the haiku, two or more poets take turns, each playing off the previous verse so that the narrative is propelled in constantly new and surprising directions. Lewis and Janeczko, both accomplished youth poets, prove just how compelling this form can be, switching voices gracefully and leaping from concrete imagery that works in concert with the artwork to verses that carry more abstract ideas that will fire imaginations. But the poetry is just half of the attraction here. Mirroring the verse form, each of Lippincott’s two-page spreads offers visual clues as to what the next will hold as well as echoes of the previous one, linking the images together as a sort of meditative meander about a timeless town. The vantage point sweeps and soars, providing no end of captivating details and surprise glimpses into people’s lives, community stories, and natural dramas that fade as soon as they arise. This lovely picture book is an impeccable synthesis of text and image, each simultaneously playing off the other in ways insightful and visceral. A book that demands and rewards multiple readings, viewings, and contemplations. - Copyright 2008 Booklist.