Reviews for Stanza

Booklist Reviews 2009 May #1
By day, Stanza and his two canine brothers prowl the streets of their downtown neighborhood and annoy, chase, and bully innocent bystanders. At night, when his brothers are sound asleep, Stanza writes poetry--sonnets and haiku--about beautiful, sensitive subjects. Stanza's secret is discovered when he enters a poetry contest and wins second prize. His brothers tease him mercilessly until they discover the prize is a year's supply of dog food. In an ending worthy of Hollywood, Stanza helps his brothers Fresco and Dirge "unleash" their own creative talents--painting and music--and the whole neighborhood becomes a happier place. The jaunty rhyming text and the buoyant illustrations fit the story perfectly. Even when the dogs are at their most menacing, there is an inherent cheerfulness. Muted watercolor, acrylic, and ink cartoon-style figures surrounded by all manner of objects pleasantly fill the street scenes. This belongs in the dog-and-the-arts-success story genre with such titles as Art Dog by Thacher Hurd (1996) and Max Makes a Million by Maira Kalman (1990). Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 April #1
What's a dog to do when his talent is decidedly un-canine, especially when his brothers, Dirge and Fresco, are bullies of the highest degree? Stanza has a problem. He loves to write poetry and he knows if his brothers ever discover his secret writing room or piles of poetry, he'll be in a doggone mess. But when the opportunity to write a four-line poem for a contest grabs his fancy he throws caution to the wind and pens a snappy piece. Of course, he is discovered and things look bad for our hero, but the reward for second place is better than Stanza or his teasing brothers ever expected. Davis's hilariously busy watercolor illustrations, complete with graphic elements like speech bubbles and dream sequences, are a neat match for Esbaum's rhythm and rhyme, though it's distinctly odd to see the clothed, anthropomorphized pups "nipping bottoms." Young writers and poets may well enjoy watching Stanza's creative process, however, and might even be inspired to write poems of their own. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 May

Gr 1-3--By day, Stanza is a bullying, ill-mannered scoundrel of a dog, terrorizing the city with his two brothers. But at night, his sensitive side emerges--the tender, poetry-writing side. His fear of Fresco and Dirge finding out about his expressions in verse keeps him writing his poetry in a "shadowy space" of his home. But when his favorite dog-food company announces a jingle-writing contest with a big cash prize, Stanza secretly enters a rhyming masterpiece. Does he win? Will his secret be exposed? What will his brothers think of him now? Clever, pleasing illustrations augment this oft-told tale of staying true to one's self without fear of recrimination. The message, though well seasoned, is refreshed by lively characterizations of Stanza, his brothers, and the people around them. Children will delight in the details that are often hidden on the page. Rhyming verse makes this an especially fine read-aloud, but the real fun is in up-close scrutiny of the illustrations. A welcome addition to a collection or unit about self-esteem and self-realization.--C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY

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