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Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
I Saw a Starburst to Flames by J. R. Lamar comprises about a hundred poems formed as quatrains. This has the effect of giving them a rhythm that draws the reader inexorably onwards. Each is colorfully illustrated, very often with a wry sense of humour compatible with the subject of the poem. My favourites include A New Pet Mouse, which took me in completely until I reached the last line and realized it was an electronic mouse intended to be attached to a computer. The picture deliberately misleads, showing a chunk of tempting cheese! I liked An Unlikely Duo, and Proud Pet Owner made me laugh aloud. According to my niece, leprechauns are delightful creatures, but this one ends wearing a muzzle. And yes, I did get trapped in A Reading Cage.
The ideas behind the poems in J. R. Lamar’s I Saw a Starburst to Flames are incredibly diverse and likely to hold the attention of children around eight to eleven or twelve, and this is necessary; the language used is demanding. There is a delightful irreverence in poems like My Pet May Be Smarter Than Me, which will certainly appeal to young readers. The “pet” in that one is Mother! Shrinking Real Estate shows growth and you will never guess how cleverly; it involves words, drawings, and the changing size of font. I suggest you buy this book for the children in your life, but not so it arrives just in time to gift wrap; time to read it yourself is essential.