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Children's Fiction Stories In Verse

City Kids

Street and skyscraper rhymes

by (author) X.J. Kennedy

illustrated by Phillippe Béha

Tradewind Books
Initial publish date
Sep 2010
Stories in Verse, Poetry (see also Stories in Verse), General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2010
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 8
  • Grade: 1 to 3
  • Reading age: 6 to 8


From street hockey to baguette duels, award-winning 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 whimsical illustrations add delight to these lighthearted rhymes. These poems are set in cities around the world from London to Toronto to New York. Funny and poignant, these stories should amuse and delight children and teachers alike.

About the authors

X.J. Kennedy is one of America's celebrated poets for children, he has published numerous works including more than 10 collections of verse and two novels. He is the winner of the 2009 Robert Frost Medal awarded by the Poetry Society of America for distinguished lifetime of service to American poetry and the prestigious National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.


X.J. Kennedy's profile page

Philippe Béha has illustrated more than 200 children's books. He is a three-time recipient of the Governor General’s Literary Award and a winner of the Mr. Christie's Book Award. He has also been a finalist for the IBBY Hans Christian Andersen Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in Quebec.


Phillippe Béha's profile page


  • Short-listed, Lion and the Unicorn Award nominee
  • Commended, Children’s Poet Laureate Monthly Book Picks
  • Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"

Excerpt: City Kids: Street and skyscraper rhymes (by (author) X.J. Kennedy; illustrated by Phillippe Béha)

Like taxis at curbside
they're waiting for hire.
Does nobody need them
to put out a fire?

A hydrant-like doorman
in red, buttoned up,
regards with suspicion
an innocent pup.

On days when it heatwaves
us kids scamper out
in swimsuits. Then hydrants
unscrew, spurt, and spout.

Editorial Reviews

"The urban world is examined from every angle in this lively collection of verse about city life…Béha's illustrations have a naïf, crayon-scrawled exuberance, and most match the upbeat tone of Kennedy's verse."

Publishers 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

"There is plenty of child-appeal and perspective, as well as end rhymes, internal rhymes, and alliteration to catch the fancy of young listeners. The layout sets each poem opposite boldly outlined images that channel the animated whimsy and unexpected colors of Chagall....Recommended."

Library Media Connection

"An eclectic collection of poems about life for kids in a vibrant city…Jovial, whimsical rainbow illustrations and zany printed titles add to the bounce and verve of City Kids…Not just for kids, but for everyone who loves being alive."

Midwest Book Review

"Beha's lively and vibrant illustrations of Kennedy's short poems have just the right amount of quirkiness to enhance the poet's sense of fun…A welcome addition to poetry collections in the elementary school library as well as a good choice for parents and grandparents who enjoy reading poems to small listeners…Highly recommended."

CM Magazine

"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

"A beautifully designed book of clever and mischievous verse for 8-12 year-olds from a virtuoso of children's (and adult) poetry. The much-laureled Kennedy is at his best in this roundup of new and older poems that celebrate the joys and pitfalls of growing up urban the world over."

Poetry Foundation

Librarian Reviews

City Kids: Street and Skyscraper Rhymes

City Kids is a collection of selected previously published poems of city-themed free verse and rhythmic rhyming poems. Topics span subway rides and traffic jams; aquarium, zoo, and museum visits; market shopping; apartment living; and family and school. “Leaflet Man”, “Singapore Shorty”, “Street Performers” and “The Man With the Tan Hands” capture the life of busy, big city downtown sidewalks. Some references to known aspects of Canadian cities are woven into poems, such as Toronto’s Yonge Street and Windsor’s Landsbury Park. With a balance of seriousness and fun, this collection of poems allows the reader to experience city life through a variety of perspectives.

Kennedy is the recipient of several awards for poetry including the 2009 Robert Frost Medal for a distinguished lifetime of service to American Poetry.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2010-2011.

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