A stellar idea for the idea jar, but the result may stay on the shelf.

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IDEA JAR

A child directly addresses readers and potential writers to share one way of getting stories started.

The unidentified student narrator shows off their male teacher’s idea jar, a place where all the kids contribute story ideas on slips of paper, and his words of wisdom: bad story ideas don’t exist; you can write, draw, or recite your tale. In Pilutti’s gouache-and–pen-and-ink illustrations, the slip-filled jar gradually morphs to contain the characters indicated on the papers (“Viking,” “monkey,” “unicorn”): the space robot uses rocket boots to escape the jar; the horseless cowgirl climbs over the rim into a desert landscape. But then the characters start to intrude a bit, giving advice to the diverse class and demanding to shape their stories. And when the idea jar gets tipped over? Watch out! Teachers will certainly welcome the notion of story ideas as living things that need to be written about in order to be happy, and the mix-ups that happen when the ideas escape and interact reflect some of the creative writing already going on in classrooms—for example, each student contributing a single sentence in turn. But unfortunately, Lehrhaupt and Pilutti don’t avoid didacticism, and their audience isn’t clear; the narration reaches for a younger audience than the snarky comments of the characters seem to imply.

A stellar idea for the idea jar, but the result may stay on the shelf. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5166-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures.

PIPPA'S NIGHT PARADE

Pippa conquers a fear of the creatures that emerge from her storybooks at night.

Pippa’s “wonderfully wild imagination” can sometimes run “a little TOO wild.” During the day, she wears her “armor” and is a force to be reckoned with. But in bed at night, Pippa worries about “villains and monsters and beasts.” Sharp-toothed and -taloned shadows, dragons, and pirates emerge from her storybooks like genies from a bottle, just to scare her. Pippa flees to her parents’ room only to be brought back time and again. Finally, Pippa decides that she “needs a plan” to “get rid of them once and for all.” She decides to slip a written invitation into every book, and that night, they all come out. She tries subduing them with a lasso, an eye patch, and a sombrero, but she is defeated. Next, she tries “sashes and sequins and bows,” throwing the fashion pieces on the monsters, who…“begin to pose and primp and preen.” After that success, their fashion show becomes a nightly ritual. Clever Pippa’s transformation from scared victim of her own imagination to leader of the monster pack feels fairly sudden, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The cartoony illustrations effectively use dynamic strokes, shadow, and light to capture action on the page and the feeling of Pippa's fears taking over her real space. Pippa and her parents are brown-skinned with curls of various textures.

A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9300-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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