Celebrated poet X.J. Kennedy captures what it means to be a kid in a city full of zany characters and urban adventures waiting to happen. Philippe Béha’s exhuberant illustrations are a perfect match to these humourous rhymes.
Winner of the Lion and Unicorn Honor Book 2011 *Selected as the Year’s Best Fiction for Grade 3 to 6 by Resource Links magazine 2010
Veteran poet Kennedy celebrates city life from a kid’s view in this cheerful collection. Short, rhythmic selections focus on exciting places to visit (museums, zoos) and everyday experiences, such as watching the machines spin at the Laundromat. Not every selection is strong, and a few poems focusing on basic family scenarios feel thematically out of place. In some of the best entries, though, the young speaker describes neighborhood characters— “Leaflet Man” resembles “a tree / . . . shedding all its leaves” as he passes out advertising flyers—and finds beauty in city grit: graffiti is “better, after all, / Than the cold blank stare of an empty wall.” Béha’s stylized, brightly hued mixed-media images, printed against white backgrounds, add buoyant energy without overwhelming the words. Both city and rural kids will enjoy the poems’ images and beats, and they’ll recognize the elemental feeling of connection and quiet that the young speaker finds in public spaces: “All you do is stand / In front of a statue / Till, ready to talk, / It looks right at you.” — Gillian Engberg
“Jovial, whimsical rainbow illustrations and zany [rinted titles add to the bounce and verve of City Kids…[this is] not just for kids but for everyone who loves being alive.” Children’s Bookwatch
“The urban world is examined from every angle in this lively collection of verse about city life. Most can apply to cities generally, though there are some specific poems about Toronto, San Francisco, London, and others. Some rhymes are full of praise, while others don’t shy away from more mature subjects such as pollution, 9/11, and crime.” Publisher’s Weekly
“Kennedy is thought-provoking without being obscure. Although much of his work is light and whimsical, he shows a willingness to take on more serious subject matter…The book also benefits considerably from Montrealer Philippe Béha’s colourful, stylized illustrations, which interpret the work sensitively and creatively.” Quill & Quire
R32;R32;”Captures the scenes and experience of urban life, via a series of evocative poems and illustrations…It is well written and expressed and invites children to understand the urban environment through a wide variety of images…A great anthology for the urban classroom, as it celebrates the life and culture of city kids.” Resource Links
“There is plenty of child-appeal and perspective, as well as…rhymes and alliteration to catch the fancy of young listeners. Recommended.” – Library Media Connection