I Saw A Starburst To Flames is a collection of amusing and insightful poetry for children, written by author J. R. Lamar and illustrated by Andrew Lamar. Totaling almost 150 poems among its bright and cheerful pages, the collection aims to take a slightly surreal stance, thinking outside the box to present interesting and funny ideas for kids (and adults) to have a giggle about. There are also some inventive re-imaginings of classic tales given new twists, new endings and rounding out the dimensions of their well-loved characters. Most verses are accompanied by lively illustrations in a modern artistic style.
Author J. R. Lamar has a flair for both humor and rhythm that carries throughout this collection from end to end. I really enjoyed the collection as a whole for its thoughtful, out of the box considerations, quirky ideas and combining of popular themes and holidays. I particularly enjoyed the Easter Bunny as a character and the inclusion of twists on popular holidays and seasonal events, as I could see those becoming treasured tales that you could share on that holiday every year. The illustrations by Andrew Lamar are as quirky and non-traditional as the verses, bringing different wacky ideas to life with a clarity that would help the reading experience for younger kids. I think I Saw A Starburst To Flames is the kind of beloved poetry book that, once owned, would be pulled out all the time to cheer up, bond and make others laugh along with children for years to come.
I Saw a Starburst to Flames by J. R. Lamar is a gorgeous collection of poems, unlike any others, written on a variety of themes and exploring the fantasies and dream places where the human soul has sometimes wandered. The very first poem captivated me both in the light and playful tone and in the beautiful imagery. The first stanza of “I Saw a Starburst to Flames” reads:
“When looking up into the sky,
I saw a Starburst to flames,
Pieces flew in my direction,
As if they had taken their aim...”
While the poems explore mature themes, like the desolation of the effective detective in a land where residents talk about him and make fun of him, there are some that will delight the minds of young readers like “I Could Have Been a Model.” In this poem, the character bemoans the fact that her eyes aren’t straight, and that she is short. J. R. Lamar picks on some of the mundane thoughts that strike the mind in the lonely hours of the day and weaves them into delightful lines of poetry. The poems are beautifully illustrated, colorful, and delightful.
I Saw a Starburst to Flames is deftly written and readers will enjoy the way the author plays with rhymes, the beautiful use of alliteration in some poems, and the symbolism that abounds. But what struck me most as I read from poem to poem is the delightful tone, at times light and at times languid. There is a clear sense of humanism in the poetry and a realism that can’t be missed. Readers are engaged in conversations on a variety of subjects and in a way that reminds them of the dreamy part of their existence. The poems are eloquent and enticing.
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.