Hardly top-of-the-pile.

Go on an adventure with a book that’s known many readers.

Meet Book: a red, nongendered…well, book readers meet at first as a new release that’s been placed prominently on a shelf in a public library, a spot that affords Book the opportunity to meet lots of young readers and visit lots of places. After some time (and several reads), however, Book’s cover is faded, and it’s relocated to “a lower, less friendly shelf.” Yikes! It’s a rough life. Thankfully, things improve for Book once it’s withdrawn from the library and is donated to a book giveaway. There, Book is discovered by a new reader who loves the little page-turner and takes it on a series of adventures that mirror Book’s early days. This time, though, the journey ends happily, as Book is valued on a personal bookshelf as a favorite story. The story is mildly amusing and enhanced greatly by Bell’s illustrations, which give Book an expressive face and surround it with diverse human readers. But it’s hard to see a child audience for this sentimental tale, though it may make librarians weep tears for favorites that have (sadly) gone out of print. An author’s note extols book-donation projects and lists a few destinations for books that may have fallen out of use in readers’ homes. Still, as a story, it’s more a yawn than an adventure. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Hardly top-of-the-pile. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2183-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020


From the How To Catch… series

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021


From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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