Friday, November 8, 2019


Avery Corman celebrates canine types and personalities in “Bark in the Park!” (Orchard Books, 38 pages, $17.99), an illustrated collection of pithy poems for children ages 3 to 5. Each breed gets its own few lines of playful verse amid pictures by Hyewon Yum that radiate a warm, friendly feel. Among the streets, shops and open spaces of a town we see a wild multiplicity of dogs and people frisking and strolling. A bearded man holds a snub-faced pug, and we read: “Is the pug cute / Or is the pug ugh? / Mostly, people love / The little pug’s mug.” Elsewhere, a fit-looking fellow works out alongside his bull terrier: “A scrappy guy with lots of hustle, / He’s one part dog and one part muscle.” Illustrated endpapers show the 38 breeds featured here.

Thursday, May 23, 2019


Văn (In a Village by the Sea) sets this magical caper on Mãi Mãi Island, where Little Linh shows readers the items every witch needs (a broomstick, spell book, and winged mouse), then presents her problem: “Do you know what a clever little witch does not need? A baby brother.” Baby Phu, it seems, squalls, chews on spell books, and messes with his sibling’s broomstick. After offering Baby Phu to the island’s otherworldly creatures (they aren’t interested), Linh decides to turn him into a goldfish. He’s eaten the page the spell is printed on, so she improvises, chanting, “From the tip of your nose to the top of your toes, bubble eyes, marble size, let me see those fishy eyes.” The spell doesn’t work, and Yum (Bark in the Park!) draws the resulting mayhem as Baby Phu turns into a succession of animals, none of them goldfish. Yet when all goes awry, it’s Baby Phu who comes to the rescue. Linh has spirit and energy, even when things aren’t going her way, but the story’s real draw lies in its Southeast Asian setting—clever little witches can be found everywhere. 

CLEVER LITTLE WITCH review from Kirkus

With the help of a little magic, a young witch tries to make her annoying baby brother more tolerable.Little Linh has all she needs to be "the cleverest little witch on Mãi Mãi Island": a broomstick, a "book of powerful spells," and a "rare and magical pet" (a glowing, winged mouse). What she does not need is a baby brother. Baby brothers sneak disastrous rides on your trusty broomstick, eat your spell book, use your pets against you, and disturb your sleep. No one else seems to need or want Baby Phu either—not the troll under the bridge, not the fairy queen in the forest, and certainly not the werewolves at the Orphanage for Lost and Magical Creatures. Naturally, magic will solve the little witch's brother problem. With her spell book partially eaten, Little Linh gamely casts spell after half-concocted spell with the intent to transform Baby Phu into a nice goldfish. The results, though, are not quite what she had hoped. Her guesswork to repair the spell goes "terribly, terribly wrong"—but it turns out that having a little brother might just prove to be a lucky thing. Yum's illustrations (acrylic gouache and color pencil) alternate perspectives and angles, energetically capturing the escalating sibling situation. Readers will recognize the looks of mischief, innocence, and determination on Little Linh's and Baby Phu's faces. Creatures—familiar and fantastical alike—give clues to the impending magical misfires taking place on this Southeast Asian island. A charming take on sibling conflict. (Picture book. 4-6) 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

PW review

Bark in the Park! Poems for Dog Lovers

Corman, the author of adult novels including Kramer vs. Kramer, makes his picture-book debut with this urban dog field guide comprising short poems—some only two lines—that salute the 38 breeds a child and parent encounter on a walk through the city (mixed pups get a shout-out on the final page). The canines are as varied and cosmopolitan as their human counterparts—a street-savvy, mostly gregarious community in its own right. Corman’s rhymes could at times use more wit and metrical crackle, but they convey details about the breeds with affectionate good humor. Of one hound, he writes, “Whatever you lose, you’d better believe it,/ The Labrador Retriever is sure to retrieve it.” A few spreads help readers distinguish among similar breeds—the greyhound and the saluki, for example, appear in abutting pages. Lively art by Yum (Someday, Narwhal) is the real star, exuding spontaneity and distilled, telling detail. She portrays a leaping Jack Russell terrier and an elegant Weimaraner with the same aplomb, capturing their essential, common dogginess: self-possessed but companionable, and happy to be alive. Ages 3–5. (Mar.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

May/ June SLC Review

Bark in the Park!: Poems for Dog Lovers
Corman, Avery
Illustrated by Hyewon Yum. 2019. 48pp. $17.99 hc. Orchard Books (Scholastic, Inc). 9781338118391. Grades K-3
Follow a young girl and her father as they go for a stroll through their neighborhood in the big city to the park. The story is a marriage of illustrations and text beginning with the cover, which depicts the girl on a park bench surrounded by playful dogs, to the end pages that introduce a variety of dogs through labeled pictures which identify each breed. What follows is a story within a story, with the accompanying illustrations showcasing their adventure. Meanwhile, the reader is treated to short poems conveying characteristics of the different dogs they see as they stroll through what appears to be Central Park. Along the way, the little girl notices everything from a notice regarding a lost toy bunny to the actual toy bunny perched beneath a tree. Young readers will laugh at the tongue in cheek humor, such as the father purchasing a hot dog as his daughter pets a Dachshund, or a bearded man walking his whiskered Schnauzer and Scottish Terrier. Corman's poems, which are sassy, well-written, and rhythmically enchanting, are on target for each breed of dog and just the right length to entertain and amuse the reader. Yum's lively mixed-media illustrations elevate this book’s storyline to a whole new level. While there are many poetry books about dogs available, this one stands out as a picture book that will be read cover to cover as children find themselves engaged by what is going on throughout the pages. This is the perfect read-aloud that will have children checking out dog books from the library just to satiate the curiosity each poem evokes. Helen Burkart Presser, Educational Author, Lower School Librarian, Canterbury School, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Highly Recommended

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Bark in the Park!-review from Booklist

Bark in the Park!: Poems for Dog Lovers.
By Avery Corman. Illus. by Hyewon Yum
Mar. 2019. 48p. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338118391). K–Gr. 3. 811 
Short, spritely poems accompany the 38 varieties of dog showcased in this witty and fact-filled book. The poems range from simple rhyming couplets to freestyle verse, and some use internal rhymes to show off the dog’s primary characteristics (like “The Poodle is quick to learn a trick. / You could say the poodle can use her noodle”). A loose narrative thread connects the poems, which follow a little girl and her father on a walk through the neighborhood. They first see an Afghan hound, with its appropriately thin, long-haired owner. Then they encounter a slew of other dogs, including a dachshund “who looks like she’s a hot dog” in front of a hot dog stand, and a Great Dane stretching over two pages to sniff at a Chihuahua. The illustrations, which use heavy ink outlines with watercolors and washes of color, are engaging and filled with comic details. Corman incorporates appropriate warnings about interacting with certain breeds and brings everything to a heartwarming conclusion: “Being friends with a dog is a dream come true.” 
— Connie Fletcher